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Celebrity Sports Showdown

I’ve always wondered a lot of things. I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to sky dive. I’ve always wondered what swimming with dolphins would be like. I’ve even wondered what it would be like to travel into space – the final frontier. I have, on the other hand, never wondered who would win in a gladiator-style duel between Sugar Ray Leonard and Paul Pierce. I have never wondered what would happen if control to a jet was handed over to Nelly Furtado. And as sure as I am that the sun will rise and set in the next 24 hours – I’m positive I have never wondered, or cared, about Kristi Yamaguchi’s horse riding skills.

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For those that might be even slightly interested, Celebrity Sports Showdown is nothing but Wii Sports, sans all the ingenuity and craft that made that game a genuine revolution. Swapped in exchange for hackneyed controls, N64-quality visuals and a severe lack of personality. Admittedly, there are quite a few more events to try out (12 to be exact), and while I’m waiting for my problems-phaser to recharge, it must be said that some of them are quite fun. Volleyball for instance – for the 15 minutes before its novelty wears thin – is actually an entertaining activity, especially with a few friends to join in. It’s partly because the actions you’re required to perform feel like they make some kind of sense. Pushing your arm upwards slightly for the set up only to slam it down for the spike immediately after is a more gratifying exercise than pretty much every other event put together. Cliffhangers – while a blatant rip-off from the event in the Mario Party titles – makes for a rather tense multiplayer affair, and like volleyball, it’s because there doesn’t appear to be any lag between flailing the arms, and seeing the results on the television screen.

However, past the two/three somewhat interesting events, the rest of them are abysmal. Air racers involves steering a plane through gates to gain speed boosts, but the controls are so unresponsive doing it with any skill is an almost impossible task. Slalom is just a terrible SSX imitation, but you have no control over the tricks you do when coming off a slope and you can sure as hell forget about generating any sense of speed or velocity. Continuing on, Dodgeball: the sport that’s probably claimed the self-esteem of more school children that any other, is a spirit sapping droll. There is no skill to hitting the opponent; you just flick your wrist any which way and the game’s auto lock-on will do all the work for you. Water canoeing is an incredibly frustrating event, not just because it’s like trying to steer a cow on ice, but also because it had real potential to be the best event, but unresponsive controls and repetitive course design sully any kind of fun. Ultimately, making it just like the majority of the other events, where you’ll find yourself jumping around like a Wacky Wavy Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man – minus all the satisfaction yet still looking totally ridiculous.

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And while Wii Sports was never much of a looker, it at least had the innovation and draw of being the first of its kind to make it forgiveable. Going back to earlier, Wii Sports had the personality that Celebrity Sports Showdown quite obviously lacks to get it through its visual downsides. At least in Wii Sports, players could create their own faces (albeit not entirely photo accurate) and watch their virtual selves smash an ace, hit a home run, or sink a hole in one. In addition, however, to the very blocky, ugly, ugly arenas and courses, the celebrities on show here look nothing like their real-life counterparts. There is very little exciting about seeing Avril Lavigne doing her best elephant man impression whilst swinging a badminton racket. And the fact that this is game’s gimmick and biggest selling point tells you more than I ever could.

But if any of the events take your fancy, then the game gives players the option of practising until your wrists are ready to fall off. And if – God forbid – you can bear it, then there’s the obligatory tournament mode where players can fight off competition from the likes of Mia Hamm, Fergie, or Keith Urban for the top spot and a lovely little trophy at the end as some sort of compensation for going through it all. Rest assured, you won’t want to; I honestly can’t even see the game’s intended youthful, motor skill abundant demographic wanting to spend more than a couple of minutes with this.

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You can pick this game up for a seemingly measly £17.99 if you try hard enough. But with that money you could, I don’t know – buy two really good films. You could buy a couple of videogame magazines and read about the titles that are actually good, as opposed to playing the one that isn’t. With £17.99, you could buy a bucket of paint, throw it all over your bedroom walls and watch it dry. For a game packed with so many so-called “celebrities”, Celebrity Sports Showdown is a big non-event.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in May 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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