One of the numerous games we got to check out while visiting THQ headquarters in Melbourne last week was Big Beach Sports. We were intrigued to sit down with the game and take a good look because, amazingly, it was only officially announced a mere week beforehand. Though the game is another face in the ever-growing crowd of Wii mini-game compilations, the announcement was notably exciting for PAL sports fans, as it marked the first game for the Wii to feature cricket. In fact, the title seems to have found a niche in the market of sports games yet to make it to the Wii - volleyball, disk golf, and bocce also make it, while traditional staples such as soccer and American football tag along for the ride.
The game was understandably a very early build, and as such we were only able to put volleyball and cricket through their paces. Volleyball was simple, and obviously based on the Wii Sports Tennis approach to gaming, as players mainly concentrate on the timing of their different strikes of the ball, rather than direction or character movement. Players may compete in teams of two, while play follows the traditional rules of volleyball - including bumping, setting, and spiking. Characters at this stage move and jump automatically, which aids accessibility of the game, though regular gamers may wish they had more control.
Cricket, according to THQ, currently stands as the most polished game of the collection. Like volleyball, players may form teams of two, however THQ suggested that one-on-one (one bowler, one batsman) was the most appropriate method of play. The game is very much beach cricket, and adheres to rules more likely to be found on the sand or at your local primary school than on the MCG. For example, a wicket does not give a batsman out, rather, it removes a number of runs from their total. A wider range of controls was seen in the cricket mini-game than in volleyball, with players able to loosely direct the ball as the batsman, and modify the speed of the pitch as the bowler. The camera for two-player was also placed behind the batsmanâ€™s right shoulder, a difference from the top down perspective of most other console cricket games.
The general look of the game is similar to previous mini-game compilations for the Wii, with stylisation taking precedence over slickness. The character models are varied and colourful (with even a monkey making it into the mix) and are Mii-like, though no Mii integration has yet been announced. Though the flavour of the game smacks of the Wii casual crowd, at this stage, those of us desperate for a Wii Cricket game may well find something worth paying for when Big Beach Sports hits shelves mid-year.