When 2K Games released The BIGS a while back for Xbox 360 and PS3 I fell in love all over again. It had been a while since I really got into a baseball game, much of that has to do with the fact that I absolutely loathe the sport, but 2K’s take on America’s favorite past time was just what the doctor ordered to get me back into the game. With that said it seems almost a perfect fit to port this casual take on the sport to Nintendo’s family friendly console; especially considering that there has yet to be a true baseball game on the system to date. With the motion-sensing controls it seems like a perfect marriage for a game like The BIGS, but as with any port there are some hindrances that cause this version to lag behind its HD counterparts.
Think of The BIGS as a nice medium between sim and arcade style. The game features all of the teams, players, and stadiums you know and love all while taking a more in-your-face approach to the sport. Instead of worrying about pitchers getting cold during the end of a game or concerning yourself with using a lefty to assure a base hit this game is about power and speed. You can fill up a special meter that allows you to crush monster homeruns or simply blast ridiculously fast pitches past the opposition. You would think that this type of simplistic pick-up-and-play style of baseball would feel right at home on Nintendo’s console.
This is of course if everything works the way it is supposed to, and to 2K’s credit most of the time it does. One of the smallest and coolest uses of motion control found here is during the pre-pitch. You can swing your Wii remote around just like real players do before the pitch, and while it isn’t spot on it does give you a sense of immersion that other games simply cannot touch. As far as the hitting is concerned there is a bit of swing lag that will take more than a few innings to master. Having to begin your swing seconds before impact is awkward at first, but soon enough it will become second nature.
Pitching has also been Wii-ified (if that even constitutes as a word) by allowing you to hold down different buttons just like gripping a real ball. Power and direction are also measured upon release by judging the speed at which your arm moves forward and the tilt of your wrist. All said and done for a first effort this system works surprisingly well and adds a nice layer of raptness to the game.
Fielding on the other hand is just as much if not more frustrating than it was on the other console versions. This is mostly due to the fact that throwing the ball to the corresponding bases is done by flicking the remote in a specified direction. For instance if you want to throw to second base you will have to flick your wrist upwards regardless of where you are standing. This is disorienting at first and is something that you never really get the swing of. For the most part the Wii implementation does the job and actually enhances some of them, if you are a fan of simulation this game is certainly not for you, but then again if you were a fan of simulation sports you wouldn’t be playing on the Wii now would you?
Of course this isn’t to say that this game is all homeruns and steroid induced players. On the contrary there is plenty here to keep you playing for quite a while. While there is not a standard season mode, 2K has opted to replace this with a mode called Rookie Challenge where you create a player and bring him up from scrub to All-Star. This is a nice diversion from the monotony of regular season modes as it requires you to perform specific feats during certain games such as coming back from being two runs down in the ninth to simply hitting a homerun with your rookie star. During these games you will earn points for your rookie that allows you to upgrade his attributes such as running, throwing, and of course batting.
On the visual side the Wii iteration is certainly not on par with the big leagues. Player models don’t have the same visual panache as say the Xbox 360 or PS3 outing but it does measure a step above the PS2 incarnation. Animations are a bit sloppy and hit detection suffers more often than not. This version also suffers from the magical magnetic glove problem that plagued older titles in the genre. While we do get glorious 480p and 16×9 support there is still a lot of polish missing from this particular copy of the game. I do have to admit that the track list is exceptional if not a bit on the meager side. Featuring the likes of Motorhead, Primus, and Stone Temple Pilots is a bonus, but a larger selection of tunes would have been greatly appreciated. Sound effects are standard fare and the announcers sound more robotic than I prefer, but it gets the job done.
The most disappointing exclusion from this version is a lack of online play. While some people always give the Wii a free pass on this aspect I really feel it hurts the overall game here. Especially with the magnificent co-op mode found in both the PS3 and 360 versions of the game; you can still enjoy multi-player action locally, but in this day and age a lack of online functionality for these simple modes is unforgivable.
While The BIGS for the Wii isn’t the end-all be-all baseball title some were hoping for on the console it is certainly more than capable of entertaining gamers for many hours on end. With a huge lineup of real players, unique and intuitive game play mechanics, and a solid multi-player component (even if it remains offline) The BIGS is more than worth the price of admission. While the game doesn’t translate as well to Nintendo’s console as many had hoped it does fill a noticeable void in the system’s lackluster library. I highly recommend giving this game a go as it is more than worth the price tag just for the sheer amount of fun to be had within.