What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this collection of sport games is very family friendly with no violence, sexuality, or bad language. Several of the games measure the force with which the Wii remote is swished and swooshed, which means there are times when players need to put a lot of energy into their movements. In other words, secure those Wii wrist straps and move all nearby furniture out of the way. Also be sure to leave plenty of space between players, or be prepared for a black eye caused by an errant Frisbee toss or cricket pitch.
What's it about?
The Wii-exclusive BIG BEACH SPORTS, designed specifically to take advantage of Nintendo's unique motion-sensitive controller, lets us play virtual versions of football, volleyball, soccer, cricket, bocce ball, and disc (Frisbee) golf. All six games feature simplified rules and intuitive player interfaces, making them ideal for children and families. Up to four people can play at once using only Wii remotes, and most of the games take under ten minutes to play (though settings can be modified to, say, increase the length of quarters in a football game or the number of holes played in disc golf). Players can create their own avatars, choosing from a variety of facial features and clothing, and each sport has its own collection of awards to unlock by achieving particular goals, such as getting an eagle on a hole in disc golf.
The Wii has seen no shortage of budget party games that group together several sports, and Big Beach Sports struggles in standing apart from its competition. With only six activities it lacks the diversity of similar titles which often feature 10 or more challenges, and its simplistic graphics are decidedly unexciting, even by the Wii's modest standards. Plus, a couple of the games are downright glitchy -- disc golf, for example, occasionally froze on a view of the horizon if we accidentally threw a Frisbee out of bounds over the ocean.
Is it any good?
Gameplay issues aside, Big Beach Sports does manage to do a few things very well. For starters, it nails the motion-sensitive controls of several of its games – especially volleyball. Bumping, setting, and spiking the ball involves movements that will seem perfectly natural to anyone who has ever played the game in real life. Cricket, too, requires intuitive movements for swinging the bat and pitching the ball. Indeed, these two games, along with bocce ball, which requires some surprisingly deep strategizing when played against a competent human opponent, have potential to keep people playing for an hour or more at a time. That said, $30 is a bit much to ask for a party game with just three compelling activities. Wait for this one to hit the bargain bins.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the sports featured in the game. Have you ever tried games like bocce ball and cricket in real life? Do the simplified video game versions presented here make you want to try them? Can you think of a local area in which you could create your own, real life disc golf course? What do you think of the controls used for the more common sports in the game? Did they make you feel as though you were really throwing a football or setting a volleyball?