This article was originally published at Aussie-Nintendo.com
Despite Wii Play being little more than a tech demo, many Wii owners own it. The extra $10 on top of a Wii remote is definitely worth it and it is still a game I go back and play occasionally. The reason I mention Wii Play is because EA Playground is very similar except it is full price, doesn’t include a remote and has less mini-games.
EA Playground includes seven mini-games (Dodgeball, Kicks, Slot Car Racing, Tetherball, Paper Racers, Wall Ball and Dart Shootout) that are set against the background of a… playground! When you begin the game you create a profile and select from a variety of different caricatures and name your character. Your character (who looks much better than any Mii you could make) then has to travel around the playground and challenge various people to one of the seven games. In this playground there is the schoolyard, an open park, a stadium and a semi-wilderness. These areas are unlocked as you pass mini-games and collect special stickers.
EA Playground is played entirely with a single remote. Your character travels through the playground with the d-pad and all the mini-games use Wii functions from the pointer to the motion controls. Each mini-game plays slightly different and like with other games in the genre: to vastly varying levels of enjoyment. It becomes clear early why Dodgeball is advertised as “Included” on the front as this is certainly the most enjoyable game. The overall gameplay is tight though there are some issues with unresponsiveness on motion controls. Overall the entire package is neat, simplistic and easy which is also its overriding problem.
EA Playground is entertaining but it is also so appallingly short that the fun is virtually over in one sitting. To put things in perspective: I had unlocked everything, tried every mini-game and completed most of the side-games in under two hours. All that was left for me to do was do things I had already done again, only with a slight difficulty increase or with modified rules. There is multiplayer for up to four players but there are also only seven games to choose from and only three or four that are fun enough to try again and again.
The visuals and sound-effects are all suited to the playground atmosphere. The colours are bright, varied and pleasing to the eye. The characters are nicely animated and I appreciate EA didn’t just cheap out with Mii’s. However the overworld is very small and some of the areas surprisingly lack polish. The stadium for example has a 2D still-images for the crowd, something I thought I’d seen the last of on Nintendo 64. The music is catchy but some might find it a little repetitive in certain games but it can be turned off. Throughout the overworld you can hear kids laughing, which is a nice touch.
This is probably the shortest review I’ve ever written but EA Playground is also one of the shortest games I have played in recent memory. What is more insulting than surprising is that this game is a full priced Wii Game with less content than Wii Play – the remote package tech demo that came out on launch. The Wii has had very few decent party games but even the constantly rehashed Mario Party series beats the pants off EA Playground. If this game included a remote and cost full price it could have been worth it but at full price and with less content than almost anything it is just a rip off. I’d usually recommend a game like this for rental but out of spite I’m not going to this time.