Ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, PQube have brought Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament to UK gamers for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PC. Following last year’s videogame of the same name, you might think it would’ve been wise to present this year’s addition with a different name, or even just a numerical affix to denote the year. However, this isn’t a follow-up to Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament; it’s a reprint of the exact same videogame.
Looking at the two videogames side-by-side, you could believe that the developers had taken the template of the previous year and built upon it, adding new events and ironing-out some of the difficulty issues. However, upon actually playing the videogame, you’ll discover that none of this has occurred. Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament is the exact videogame inside the case is the exact same videogame from last year. In fact, the only difference is that case, as the front cover and spine design has been altered. If you bought Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament in 2011, you’d be advised not to buy it in 2012.
That being said, there are likely to be a number of gamers who haven’t experienced Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament at all. For those gamers keen to get into the athletics frame-of-mind and not willing to wait for SEGA’s officially licensed effort, Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament isn’t a bad videogame by any means, though it is poorly judged in a number of respects. The most prominent of which is the difficulty. Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament is an accurate title, as the videogame is certainly challenging, but far too much so for any casual gamer. The Career mode features a tiled layout for events with successful completion unlocking further events, but even the very first event demands the player put into practice some consummate skill. The Career mode also implies that by spending training points (earned by obtaining medals) will make things easier, but this simply isn’t the case.
The one-off events aren’t much more generous, despite the ‘Instant Fun’ label on the easiest difficulty setting. This simply takes away some of the command inputs, such as the need to position yourself before a sprint by holding the L trigger, but doesn’t actually adjust the difficulty of the challenge you will be facing. While Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament may feature eight different sports and twenty disciplines therein, simply learning how to successfully complete one can take a number of hours.
Of all the events included it’s arguably the more passive designs that are the most successful. The attempted replications of Track & Field have not been adapted to modern analog controls appropriately, causing far too strain for little effect, whereas the QTE based events – though no less challenging – do appear to offer a more lenient and responsive learning curve.
From a technical standpoint Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament is a comfortable title, but hardly likely to astound in any regard. The amount of detail in the background is a commendable effort, but the foreground is distinctly lacking by comparison. The small variety of character models aren’t particularly lifelike in appearance and their animation is no more than functional.
For those who haven’t yet experienced Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament it’s no less enjoyable now then it was last year: a fairly traditional gameplay experience presented as an interpretation of athletic events. Of course, for those who have already purchased Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament, doing the same again this year would be foolish. Given the unusual turn of events that sees the same videogame re-released with simply a new cover, the question isn’t so much as to why PQube decided to do such a thing, but how they managed to do it without any attention being drawn to the fact. Whether it’s clever marketing or lazy investment in new technology, one thing remains true: Summer Challenge Athletics Tournament is almost certain to benefit from the London 2012 Olympic Games buzz next month.