A Wii Curling Travesty

Posted on Wednesday 21 May 2008

A bit of background here for you.

I’ve been a curler at heart since I first watched my dad slide down the ice at the age of 10 or so. I started curling when in High School, in the school boy league and quickly graduated in skill to the level of skip (team leader for those who aren’t aware of the nomenclature ) and have “skipped” games (on and off ) for well over 40 years. I may not be the best, but I’m no where near the worst.

Unfortunately, while I can still hang in there for a game or two of my favorite sport, my wife is not so lucky, having been struck with arthritis enough to hamper her playing ability and our mutual enjoyment.

The Setup

So we were both quite excited, when after acquiring a Wii (which we both really enjoy playing…. albeit me much more so than her ), we heard that Hudson Software was developing a new Wii game called Deca Sports. One of the games within the sports package was to be Curling . Wow!

We checked all the reviews and online pre-release video’s and everything looked really, really great. So when it became available this month, I rushed out and got a copy.

The Disappointment

Actually, the Curling game within Deca Sports was much more than a disappointment, it is a travesty. It was no where near anything close to the real game. Had they called it a “Funspiel” (a fun version of a Curling game, where the rules are intentionally and dramatically changed for the “fun of it” ) I would have forgiven them and probably enjoyed the game more. But as things currently stand – I’m ticked!

Deca Sports – Curling Review

This game does not give anything close to a fair representation of what curling is like. What were they thinking? Didn’t anyone research the game before they programmed it?

Here are just a few of the glaring issues/problems with the game:

  • The number of players on a curling team is 4, the number on Deca Sports is 3
    • Okay, maybe they were trying to keep the numbers down for programming purposes, but heck they created eight different teams with each team having five people, so the players were there already!
  • The player positions are Lead, Second, Vice, Skip the Deca Sports positions are 1st, 2nd, 3rd.
    • Imagine if they had created a baseball team and named all the positions 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. I don’t think a lot of baseball fans would have been happy about that! Not a big deal, but it irritates.
  • Each team had only 6 rocks to throw, versus the actual 8 per team
    • This is probably related to the 3 player restriction put on each team, but again in curling, if you have only 3 of your 4 players available, the first person (the lead) usually throws 4 rocks and everyone else throws 2! Again, not a show stopper, but it’s like playing baseball with only two outs!
  • The players don’t throw their rocks in proper sequence. Instead of the 1st team member throwing 2 rocks, then the second and finally the third, they have each throw one rock then the next member, which entirely changes the game! Different positions have different styles and skills for different reasons in this game the 1st team member (who usually throws light rocks for guards or setting up the game ) throws the 1st and the 4th rock! Arg!! This one sucks and should never have happened!
    • This is tantamount to designing a football game where the quarterback throws on the 1st and 3rd downs and the kicker kicks on the 2nd and 4th! This basically changes the game, it is no longer curling!
  • The throwing of the rock has to be the worst design I’ve ever seen. You push the “B” button to have the player kneel and then a little gauge pops up (so that you can adjust your power/strength/weight of your throw ) and it bounces up and down faster than a yo-yo. What on earth were they thinking!! The weight or power of the throw is one of the most important aspects of the game and they left it completely to random luck (there is no possible way to accurately control the strength of your throw. )
    • Try playing a golf game where you could randomly hit or putt a ball between 50 metres and 500 metres – it wold kind of ruin the game don’t you think! This “feature” completely ruins the game.

There are lots of other issues, like the actual instructions in the book for throwing and releasing the rock don’t match what you actually have to do (nor does it work very well .) There is also so much more that they could have done, like having the ice actually influence the game and/or change from game to game and have a real sliding release which lets you control the rock that much more, and on and on and on. All they had to do was talk to someone who knew the game ….

The Mind Cramp

Back when I had a design team, I insisted that they meet with the client and find out exactly what their needs were before designing a program. Then, once the design had started, to meet with them on a frequent basis to ensure that we actually captured what it was that they needed and how they needed things to work.

The Curling game designed by Deca Sports shows no indication of even trying to use this procedure. I don’t even think that they talked to a curler about it. It looks more like someone watched a game on TV went home and designed what they thought a Curling game was like… Shuffleboard on ice…

If you are going to design a program that is designed to attract a certain type of person/player/individual, should you not at least talk to that person (or better yet someone who really, really understands what it is that the program should do ) to ensure that you meet their needs?!

Bottom Line

There are two bottom lines to this rant…

  1. For those of you who are looking to buy Deca Sports for the Wii because of the Curling game – DON’T! You will regret it…
  2. For those of you who are programmers, engineers or even clients of such, let this game be a chilling reminder to you. Talk to your target community before you publish something that may not even resemble what it was you were trying to deliver! Get involved and stay involved, otherwise there is no guarantee of getting anything close to what it was that you really wanted to deliver…
End Article
  1. Kevin Said,

    Thanks, I was considering Deca Sports, just for Curling. Now I’m not. I think I’ll wait for the Manitoba company called Complex Games to finish their dedicated curling game.

  2. Rick Said,

    Awesome – glad I saved another curler…. some of the other games my grandsons like, but curling…. even they don’t like it!
    The programming department would have been better off turning their efforts to shuffleboard!

    Let me know the name of that game and how it turns out!

    A curling game coming out of a Western Province – should be real good! Can’t help but be good right?

    Keep me in the loop on that one please!

  3. Ed Said,

    The curling game on Deca Sports is actually the only one of the ten games that I enjoy on this collection — their other games range from frustrating to horrible.

    Yes, I would’ve preferred a realistic setup — 8 rocks per end, 2 shots by position at a time, etc. — but the gameplay itself is not too bad. Even the hardest throwers are unable to throw truly heavy weight, but otherwise, the sweeping genuinely makes a difference, the curl of the ice seems pretty good, and I was able to figure out how to consistently control the power of the rocks — it definitely isn’t “random luck”.

    As expected, the AI is quite poor. Even on the hardest level, the AI shuns guards for crazy raises that never stand a chance. But to be fair, I’ve never played a curling video game with even remotely intelligent computer players.

    No, it isn’t a great curling game, and with a craptastic collection of events, I wouldn’t recommend Deca Sports to anyone, either. It’s MAYBE worth buying if you see it for under 5 bucks at a hock shop. Maybe.

  4. Rick Said,

    Yeah, this set of games doesn’t get much action in our house and I have two grandsons who are sports crazy and even they don’t like this Wii game LOL.

    I’m not sure what they were thinking about when they designed this set – except to maybe make a quick killing while the Wii phenomenon was still hot – a real pity for sure!

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