EA Playground Review


EA Playground is essentially a collection of mini games tied together by the kind of playground that only exists in the wildest dreams of seven year olds. Well, minus the stuff of parental nightmares such as monkey bars, that is. As you roam the playground you'll find that some of the frolicking children have cartoon-style word balloons over their heads. These are the kids that serve to launch you into one of Playground's mini games which include slot car racing, paper airplane gliding, dodgeball, tetherball, wall ball, kicks, and darts.

Slot car racing has you racing against three other kids on a closed-loop slot car track. The remote is used to power your car by pressing the A button and you can flick the remote to one side or the other to change lanes or give a nearby car a nudge. There are plenty of alternate paths, ramps, and other track features, but it doesn't seem possible to launch your car off of the track. There are a few under-powered power-ups and boosts available for pick up on the tracks, but they're not really needed. It's not very hard to leave your competition very far behind pretty early in a race, although the game does cheat and try to make the last lap or two close no matter how are you are ahead.

The paper airplane games are essentially obstacle courses in which you guide a paper airplane by moving the remote in the direction you want to fly. You don't have to worry much about physics as your plane will always have the airspeed to continue flying to the end of the course, even if you smack it right into an obstacle. Most of the courses require you to reach the end within a set time limit or to collect a minimum number of pick-ups before reaching the end of the course.

Dodgeball sounds like it would be the most enjoyable mini game, but in reality it is only average. You use the Wii in a throwing motion to throw the ball and shake it to the side to do a rolling dodge, but your movement is controlled with the directional pad. This is a game that really needs to use the nunchuck for movement. The biggest problem with dodgeball, though, is that it's slow-paced and not very difficult.

Tetherball has you using the remote to slap the ball when it passes in front of your character as you try to get the tether completely wrapped around the pole. Although this is a simple timing game, it's a little more fun than you would think.

Wall ball is basically handball, but it plays like a less enjoyable version of tetherball. This game is all about timing rather than position as you have no control over the movements of your character. Your character will always be in the right spot and your job is to swing the controller to hit it back. Warp points and other power-ups occasionally appear on the wall, but they're not enough to add much excitement to this dull mini game.

Kicks is one of the more interesting mini games. It plays like a combination of tennis and soccer with each team defending a goal and the court bisected by a net. You play on a two-person team and the remote is used to pass and shoot as well as to make defensive dives. It's one of the more active of the mini games and as a result one of the more enjoyable ones.

Dart shootout is a basic target game in which you fire off air darts at targets as they move pass. To be honest, it didn't elicit strong feelings one way or another for me. I guess we'll call it mostly harmless.