Summer Stars Review (Wii)
You would think a game based on the games of the Summer Olympiad would release with a bit more fanfare, but Summer Stars 2012 seems to have slipped in under the radar. Perhaps it is the lack of any official licensing -- or, you know, “Stars” -- that has driven the game into oblivion. I had trouble finding it in any local stores.
But, regardless of lack of press or publicity, if you enjoy track and field games, this one may be one to try.
Summer Stars features 18 different disciplines, most of which have been seen before. Sprinting, swimming, high jumping, pole vaulting, fencing, etc., are fairly standard for this genre. In full, there's no real surprise in the event selection.
Nor are the controls that surprising. Unless you are using the Move controller (still a functional but unwieldy choice), you’ll be timing button presses and wiggling control sticks as usual. That said, there are some nice variants that keep things a little more interesting.
In race events, there’s a risk/reward system that makes getting a good start quite a gamble. I found the high jumping, pole vaulting and trampoline timing games way more fun than they should be. Even archery was surprisingly satisfying.
Again, Move support (for the ten of you who bought that controller) is a possibility, but, in my opinion, doesn’t add enough to move furniture around for solo play. This is a better option for multiplayer sessions.
There’s no mistaking the fact that this isn’t a real Olympic game. Sure, it features an international sports competition, with some events taking place in the shadow of London’s landmarks, but it is bereft of any official symbols, music, or athletes.
That isn’t to say that the game has poor presentation. Most of the graphics are adequate, especially the broadcast style elements and the event locations. I really like the relatively subtle use of onscreen guides.
Still, it’s not a gold medal recipient in the area either. Loading times are too long. Some background items look really bad (trees for instance), and character movement out of the events is shaky.The character themselves are passable, but faces often looks weird, especially the eyes of the on screen commentators. Speaking of commentary, it’s bad.
The game’s career mode, which tells a (boring) story of two athletes from the country of your choice, is actually not bad. You are presented with a honeycomb of events -- clearing one usually unlocks one or two more events to the right until you are eventually filtered to a trophy level tournament.
Along the way, you’ll earn points which will upgrade your athletes. For instance, gaining an archery skill might let you zoom in farther or focus (slow time) a bit longer. There are also “rivals” that you can beat to upgrade your equipment.
What’s more, there are plenty of variations to basic events that keep things fresh. I had to laugh at the “verbal” fencing event: you score hits by selecting the right comeback from a list of on-screen dialog options.
Make no mistake -- this stuff isn’t to the level of something like Road to the Show, Tiger Woods career, or even Madden’s Be a Pro mode. But it is certainly better than most other mini-event games, including the main mode of Nintendo’s recent official Olympic game.
If you’ve read this far, hopefully you are getting the impression that Summer Stars 2012 is a surprisingly competent but no where near earth-shattering game. What tips the scale in the game’s favor is its low price. For a budget title ($20), there’s a lot of gameplay here -- if you like these types of sports games.
Learning Curve: On-screen guides and interactive tutorials helps things out, but it might take some practice to get good at many events
Control Scheme: Move or standard controller, this game controls as you’d expect. Lots of (sometimes painful) wiggling, timing, and mashing. Not sure how good that is for your controllers, though.
Visuals: Quite the mixed bag, but good enough to look at.
Audio: Bad commentary backed up by ok music, though the commentators like to point out that “Some might say that ok is next door to bad.” Ugh.
Online: Just leaderboard, disappointingly.
Lasting Value: Decent multiplayer and career options for a budget price makes this game a tempting buy. Lots of record keeping and in-game achievements