Yes, this article is actually going to be about Sports Party!
I know that everybody is excited about this weekend's "surprise" announcement of Diablo III; it's the dungeon hack millions of computer players have been waiting years to play. But maybe you can put your swords and potions away, because I have real breaking news: nobody remembers Summer Sports: Paradise Island!
Okay, so maybe that isn't as big as another story about Diablo III (or Ninja Gaiden), but this seems to be the one news story that nobody seems to care about. You see, it all started a couple weeks ago when Ubisoft announced that they would be publishing a game called Sports Party. It is a mini-game collection that is being aimed squarely at the casual game market, the same people that made Wii Sports (and the Wii in general) a runaway hit. Featuring
When I reviewed the game back in the spring I complained that the sports were wildly inconsistent. Sadly that fact has not changed!
everything from lawn darts to horseshoes to badminton, Sports Party will offer players a number of unique sporting events and a beautiful tropical location.
There's only one problem, the game I just described is published by Destineer and currently available at retailers nationwide. That's right, Sports Party is nothing more than Summer Sports: Paradise Island, renamed for a different region. It's the exact same game; the only difference is the publisher and the name. This is no different from Capcom publishing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in Japan or StarFox becoming StarWing in Europe.
So why is this middling Wii mini-game
It doesn't matter if you called it StarFox or StarWing, the simple truth is that this Nintendo franchise hasn't been relevant for years!
collection breaking news? Because the only way you would learn any of this information is by reading Defunct Games. For some odd reason every single major video game website has forgotten about Summer Sports: Paradise Island. And to make matters worse, none of them figured it was important enough to mention that Ubisoft is only publishing the game in Europe. Apparently in the 21st century, things like "facts" and "investigative reporting" means nothing to America's top video game journalists.
But you don't need to take my word on it. I have assembled a series of quotes from the biggest video game websites in the United States. Below you will find only the relevant parts, which involve the game announcement and, more importantly, the release date. Notice how none of them seem to worry about clarifying the release date or mentioning Summer Sports: Paradise Island.
GameSpot - Ubisoft opens casual Play Zone:
"Signaling an intent to better tap into the Wii market's casual-leaning tastes, Ubisoft said today that it will be establishing the Play Zone label. The division's purpose will be to create Wii-exclusive party games and minigame compilations that "provide immediate entertainment and recreation." The first title to bear Play Zone branding will be Sports Party, due out for the Wii on July 11. The game offers a variety of different athletic ventures--such as basketball, croquet, lawn darts, badminton, volleyball, horse shoes, and minigolf--and will primarily involve gesture-based gameplay using the Wii Remote."
IGN - Ubi Readies Sports Party for Wii:
"Sports Party will be the first game to be released within the PLAY ZONE label. Located in a tropical paradise Island, Sports Party proposes 9 sports mini-games that can be played head-to-head or
cooperatively. With 3 different difficulty levels and using intuitive gestures with the Wii Remote the games can be enjoyed again and again. [...] Sports Party will be available on July 11th 2008."
Kotaku - Ubisoft Enters The Play Zone With Sports Party:
"Finally a publisher comes right out and says it - we're gonna crank out mini-games for the Wii like there was no tomorrow. [...] The first game to appear under the Play Zone label is Sports Party, which features nine different mini-games with varying difficulty levels. Included are three variations on basketball, croquet, lawn darts, badminton, volley-ball, horse shoes, and mini-golf. Sounds perfect for parents who've grown jaded over this whole fresh-air and sunshine nonsense."
Hey Ubisoft, what do we have to do to make sure that your "Imagine" line of DS games stays in Europe and only Europe?
After surveying each and every one of the major video game websites, I was stunned to learn that not a single one mentioned Summer Sports: Paradise Island. These sites were also scoreless when it came to mentioning that this was a Europe-only product. GameSpot, Kotaku, 1up and every other site I went to had the game listed with a July 11 release date, not once mentioning that this is a European street date.
Actually, GameFAQs manages to go one step further. As of this writing GameFAQs lists the Sports Party release date at July 11 ... and it specifically says that this is the U.S. release date. Clearly nobody got the memo that Sports Party is a European game and that this is one game that has already been released ... under the name Summer Sports: Paradise Island.
I don't think I'm asking too much when I expect my video game websites to remember a game that came out less than three months ago. I know that most game "journalists" actively avoid these Wii mini-game collections, but there's no reason not to pay close enough attention and see that this brand new
Couldn't Limbo of the Lost have ripped off some underappreciated games like Psychonauts and Beyond Good & Evil? Those games could be helped with all this talking about plagiarism!
game is exactly the same as something released back in April. And even if they didn't remember the Destineer game, at least they should mention that the July 11 date is for Europe, and not North America.
What is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this whole story is that these game journalists can do a good job when they want to. Earlier this month a scrappy reporter from GamePlasma noticed that Limbo of the Lost stole complete set-pieces from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Once this was uncovered the whole internet went crazy, calling for the developer's heads and email all of their friend's side-by-side comparison shots. The media was all over this, giving us daily updates of the back and forth with the developers, publishers
Ninjabread Man, now that's shovelware!
and customers. For a few seconds it seemed like the games journalists were doing something noble.
But don't expect the same kind of attention when nobody can link Summer Sports: Paradise Island and Sports Party. Because we're not dealing with triple-A products they figure that nobody cares. They can half-ass writing a news story, generally writing it off as nothing more than shovelware. Well, Summer Sports is not shovelware, and, by relation, neither is Sports Party. They may not be the greatest sports games to hit the Wii, but they show some promise and are no worse than any other mini-game collection on Nintendo's console.
Even if these companies have no desire to treat this product with respect, the least they can do is get their facts right. It isn't that hard to simply mention that the July 11th street date is for Europe and that American gamers can check the game out now, under the name Summer Sports. See, if somebody had done that I wouldn't be forced to write a thousand words chastising the major media outlets. All I'm asking is for somebody to remember Summer Sports: Paradise Island.