With seven different mini-games, Playground is great fun as a family party game or in the challenging single-player mode if you want to sharpen up your skills.
Around the grounds are various kids who can be challenged to one of the seven games available. Dodgeball sees you controlling a team of three, flicking your Wii remote to dodge and "throwing" your remote to throw the ball. Paper Races requires you to navigate your paper plane through obstacles and picking up power-ups to get your plane to the finish line. A game of retro Tetherball can test your reactions, where you need to out do your opponent by whacking a ball attached to a string around a pole back and forth. Wall ball is a somewhat boring game, as all you need to do is hit a ball against the wall in turn with your opponent and you don't actually control the movement of your character. Kicks combines volleyball with soccer and creates a game where the aim is to get the ball over the net into the goal. In Time Crisis fashion, Dart Shootout involves use of the Wii remote as a gun and shooting at pop-up targets and other kids firing back at you. The final game is slot car racing where you are up against four opponents to speed around a track using power-ups and changing lanes or nudging your opponents by tilting your Wii remote in either direction. Kicks and slot car racing definitely proved to be the most enjoyable, as they were a lot faster and competitive than the rest. There are also other mini-games scattered around, like bug catching or shooting basketball free throws.
Beating a kid at their game will earn you a golden sticker which in turn will be added to your sticker book. Earning gold stickers is essential as it in turn opens new areas to take on tougher competitors. Once you have defeated a certain player at their game they will then offer you a series of dares. Dares involve the same game except with a different rule set -- for example, win a game of Wall Ball without any power-ups or complete a lap in less than 16 seconds in slot car racing. If you are successful in defeating an opponent in a dare you are rewarded marbles. Marbles are in some way considered as the currency in Playground.
Facing tougher competitors might at times require you to strengthen your skill set with the use of Super Stickers. Super Stickers -- which are new moves and abilities for games -- can be bought off the Sticker Master in each zone. He can also be challenged once you have obtained all the golden stickers and beaten all the dares in that zone.
Like most games on the Wii, Playground is strongly text driven when talking to potential challengers. You can keep an eye on your progress through the zones and also check the amount of stickers you have or require in your sticker book. There is a small variety of character models to choose from when creating your profile, each having their own personality.
While Playground is a game aimed at kids, it can also easily be enjoyed as a family. Good use has been made of the Wii remotes capabilities across all of the seven games. There is an excellent focus on the single-player campaign which can prove to be a couple hours of fun. The progressing difficulty and extra dares will surely keep it challenging all the way through. Playground is a great party and family game coming out at the right time of the year.