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Game Profile


EA Playground

Stage 1 : First Impressions
by Rob Galbreath (2007-10-31)

Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation

EA Playground appears to be another Wii Sports rip-off at first glance, but don't be fooled. What seems like an easy method of making money for Electronic Arts is actually a game that people might enjoy just as much as, if not more than, Wii Sports - and certainly more than Wii Play.

Set in an after-school playground, players select among a few pre-made characters. Although there is no Mii inclusion and no character creation in this game, the included characters are a lot more detailed and fun-looking than the typical Mii. Each has his or her own personality, like a rimmed-glasses dweeb who performs The Robot after a win. As childish as it seems, the music, kung-fu animations, and expressive art style truly provide a game for everyone. When these kids play dodge ball, they're out for both survival and revenge.

These kids have more personality than a typical Mii.

Dodge ball is among the several games available. Paper airplane racing, operated by holding the Wii Remote like a pencil, offers special moves for boosts and items along the way. A bizarre twist of soccer and volleyball offers a few special attacks in the standard remote motion, allowing dodges, jumps and creative hits. In the slot car game, a jump-frenzy, twist-turning track (like the ones you would build with MicroMachines) offers special items by pressing the buttons or twisting the Wii Remote left or right to change tracks. In Wall Ball, similar to a half-court game of tennis, players can hit the ball up into worm holes that appear in the brick wall to surprise the other player.

Best of all, the entire game is played with only the Wii Remote. Using only one hand, players can manipulate the motions of childhood games in a really engaging way. In any game requiring character movement, the d-pad is very responsive and eliminates any need for analog control.

So far, games include Basketball, Slot Car Racing, Wall Ball, Dodgeball, Tetherball, Kicks (a soccer and volleyball combination), Dart Shootout (which is much like a on-rails arcade shooter), and Paper (airplane) Racers. Minus Basketball, each of these games are available in multiplayer of up to four players. This appears to be the entire list so far, but more might be available. There are a few surprise games like bug catching and dribbling in the adventure mode.

Those are tacks in your inventory, and a boost meter!

Speaking of, unlike most compilation games, there is an adventure mode game equipped with exploration and upgradeable moves for each game, like speed boosts, special abilities, and various extras. The upgrades are a necessity, but we'll get to that in Stage 2.

The music is both fitting and exciting, ranging from easy flow music to some surprises like bass-filled disco for Tetherball, hard rock for Kicks, and some fast-tempo music for Slot Car Racing. The sound effects utilize Dolby Pro Logic II audio, particularly when using special moves and pivotal moments. The voices are pretty cool, although reminiscent of a less gibberish Sims speak. After all, EA did assist in The Sims as well as EA Playground.

The bright colors and text prove to be widescreen and progressive scan, though neither of them are mentioned on the back of the box. It's quite evident from the text that it is in widescreen, as well as the images provided by Electronic Arts, so don't worry about seeing stretched text on your new television. However, the animation style might annoy some players needing realism. It's not exactly lifelike and it's not cel-shaded graphics, but the bright colors and E-for-Everyone personality lend the game a feel similar to Super Mario Sunshine on GameCube. Even for a older game like myself, the art style is both fitting and nice to watch.

Will the game remain fun, or do playground games grow dull as time passes? Find out in Stage 2!

Stage 2: Analysis >

Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation