Summer Athletics: The Ultimate Challenge Review

Summer Athletics is a serviceable medium through which you can live out some of your Olympic aspirations. As you may know, the summer games ended not too long ago, and if you watched them like I did, you may be slightly interested in seeing what this game has to offer. Sadly, women's beach volleyball and basketball are noticeably absent.

What the game offers are seven categories of events, swimming, running, archery, diving, cycling, throwing, and jumping. Within each category are the specific events (in all except diving) that equal to a total of 26 events. Granted, most are slight variations, such as the different swimming strokes, but they are all different. About the only popular sport missing would be gymnastics, and the aforementioned volleyball and basketball among others, so the events included are almost everything you would expect.

The difficulty of each event ranges from "break a world record on the first try" to "you're never getting bronze in this event." Basic running, archery, throwing, and some swimming are fairly easy; diving, jumping, and hurdles are harder; and cycling, some swimming strokes, and long runs are near impossible to figure out. So some events can be played once to master them, while others require almost as much training as the real events they portray. There are a few difficulty settings, and you can even choose from either pure or arcade play. The only difference with arcade is that you are given boosts to help you get by, which would be a mode to use during multiplayer.

All of the events require you to do different motions with the Wii Remote, of course. Archery has the best one as you hold the nunchuk forward, hold the remote back pointing forward, and then fire. Another type of motion is the "DDR" game, or Guitar Hero type, where you match the motion on screen to a rhythm; seen in high jumping and diving. Running is just swinging your arms up and down. Swimming is fun to live out your Michael Phelps dreams, but once you find out how to simplify the strokes they should all be easy. Pole vaulting, diving, and other events combine several of these elements that will take a few tries and a few reads through the controls until you understand what to do. Prolonged motions, the circular motions, and almost anything requiring building speed will take quite a bit of trial and error.

On top of the single events, you also have competitions, career, and multiplayer. Competitions are a variety of challenges which let you play a series of events to test your endurance. The competitions are just a way to play a set series of events, rather than picking them yourself. The career is a weak element because there is little point to it. You start as a weak athlete and train in competitions to build your stats. You can build your own character and lead them to the top, but you can make your own athlete in single events who is (I assume) already maxed out on stats and you already have every event unlocked from the start, so there is no reason to play the career other than to say "I did it." And of course there is multiplayer for up to four players. You can choose hotseat to go one at a time, or split screen, and again, there is the arcade option to help new players compete.