Vancouver – Ubisoft has released the latest trailer for the Ubi Vancouver developed Academy of Champions, which will hit store shelves on November 3rd. This long-awaited sports title for the Wii features the likeness of soccer great Pele, challenging mini-games, and some well-known Ubisoft characters.
The premise behind Academy of Champions is that you are a young soccer star – or you want to be, and you manage to gain a spot at Pele’s Brightfield Academy. From the official game synopsis, “Teamwork, Friendship and Respect are the key values that Headmaster Pelé shares. That said, competition at Brightfield is high, and the hero must form a team to stay in school and follow his goal to become a pro.
Our hero’s potential is obvious, and this has not been missed by the beady eyes of Von Trappe, the headmaster of the rival Scythemore Academy, an institution that instills in its students the ideal of winning at all costs, even if this involves overt aggression or cheating. Von Trappe puts a plan into action to bring our talented hero to Scythemore, but Pelé is wise to his trickery, ultimately outwits him and saves our hero from the hardship of spending more than one term at Von Trappe’s brutal Academy.”
I had the opportunity to play Academy of Champions recently, and I will freely admit that prior to playing the game, I was very dubious. I am not a fan of the sports game genre, nor am I as proficient with the Wii as I am with the 360. Luckily I had my own personal game tutor as well as the in-game tutorials to learn how to play the game. It didn’t take me very long to get a handle on the controls and game play, and I was actually having fun playing a sports game.
As you work your way through the Academy’s storyline, you are presented with mini-challenges such as goalkeeping, shooting, passing and tackles – or you can master Brazilian Freestyle juggling with the Wii Balance Board™. Academy of Champions will also work with either the standard Wii nunchuk controller or with Wii Motion. As you increase your soccer pitch prowess, your skill level improves and you are able to purchase equipment upgrades.
You can also unlock new characters for your team – my favourite team build was comprised of Rayman, Altair, Sam Fisher, the Prince of Persia and Jade – who all appear as youngsters. Rumour has it that the toughest team to beat on the soccer pitch is the Rabbids. While every character in the game has a special power-up move, the Ubisoft characters bring their own brand of special talents to the game. Special moves on the Brightfield Academy team are gained by co-operative team play – passing the ball to other members of your team is a fast way to fill the power bar. Players can then shake the Wii mote to execute the special moves – some players use their skill for offense, while others use theirs for defense.
While Pele is headmaster of the Academy, his number one assistant in teaching his young charges the benefits of good sportsmanship and fairplay is none other than American soccer star Mia Hamm. Mia is the current all-time leading scorer, male or female, in international soccer history and at age 15 was the youngest player ever to be named to the US National Team. As positive role models for young people in real life, both Pele and Mia were natural choices to be the leaders of Brightfield Academy.
There are many different teams to play against with your chosen teammates, and with the multi-player game mode you can either play with friends or against them. The artwork presented in both background and character development is very high quality – it is obvious that a great deal of attention went into the game’s environment and visual appeal. Scoring goals in the game doesn’t just get you closing to winning the match, it helps you build each arena’s backdrop. The audio work in Academy of Champions is also top notch – the more I played the game, the more it became apparent that the Ubisoft Vancouver team had put together a very high-quality, family-friendly game which has lasting appeal. They certainly won me over with Academy of Champions, and this is one title which will be seeing some game play at Village Gamer.
Congratulations to everyone at Ubisoft Vancouver for such a positive, high quality debut title!