While not all of Hudson's WiiWare offerings are necessarily successful in terms of sales or critical response, they've been responsible for some of the best, and best-selling, games on the service. And even when they don't do so well, effort is evident. So why can't Hudson's parent company, Konami, take a lesson from their subsidiary? Since the launch of the service, they've released only two games: Critter Round-Up and this. So they've released, like, one and a quarter games.

Sandy Beach is a baffling release -- in that I can't fathom how Konami saw this and decided there was enough game to be worth releasing. It's really two games, but the sum fails to provide enough value for the 500 Wii Point cost.



Sandy Beach's main mode is a sandcastle building simulator. It would literally be a sandbox game, except it isn't a game. It's a sandbox. In this mode, you use the pointer to arrange blocks of sand, that can then be embellished and shaped into battlements, doorways, arches, and various castle parts. For the most part, it delivers on the promise of a casual sandcastle building game, except for a few control issues. For some reason, the B button is the main action button, and A cancels. Also, in order to scoop up sand with the bucket tool (the first step to making any element of your castle), you are forced to use what is supposed to be a scooping motion, but most often resolves as a desperate shake of the Wiimote, accompanied by cursing and rage. Once you get used to flogging the Wiimote spastically to perform the most basic task, the building is okay. You set down cubes of sand in your chosen shape using the bucket, and pick up a mallet tool to destroy blocks. A shovel allows you to scroll through a series of shapes for a chosen block, and a stick allows you to add designs. You can save your castles or destroy them. That's it. And of the game's two modes, it's the better one, because it's merely tedious.

The other mode, "Crab Battle," has a wonderful Konami-related reference for a name. That is the extent of the fun to be found with Crab Battle, a rudimentary tower defense game about protecting a sand tower from crabs. You have a brief time to (wrestle with the controls and) build structures around the tower, earning money as you build to purchase cannons. After the time is up, the crabs rush in and destroy the tower while you feebly slap them away with the A button and attempt to rebuild your defenses. The trouble is, the crabs are way too fast and too numerous, building is too slow, and your slaps are almost entirely ineffectual. I also felt like the initial building period was far too short to accomplish anything but a few piles of sand and the occasional cannon. Strategy gave way to panic almost immediately. A completely run-of-the-mill, feature-poor tower defense game isn't enough reason to endure any of these issues, especially when good tower defense games can be found for free online, good tower defense-esque games can be found cheaply on WiiWare, and really great tower defense games can be found on DS.

I have nothing against the non-game status of Sandy Beach's main mode. I think it's a neat idea to populate WiiWare with toys of various kinds, and, judging by My Aquarium's success, people agree. But Sandy Beach's sandcastle mode is a really boring toy that is kind of annoying to play with. And it's bundled with an even more irritating game.

Final score: 2/10

We're always looking for new games to enjoy. We've got plenty of other WiiWare reviews, if you're into that kind of thing.. If you're so crazy that you want to go to the store and buy something when you could be playing World of Goo or Mega Man 9, we can help with that, too.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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