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Nintendo Media Summit: The BIGS hands-on (Wii)

Colin Torretta

This week's Nintendo Media Summit was a largely first-party affair, but there were a handful of third-party games also being shown off for the Nintendo Wii. The first game I played was Take-Two's baseball title, The BIGS. I was particularly interested in the motion controls and how The BIGS differentiated itself from the other major baseball offerings like MLB '07 or MLB: The Show.

It turns out that The BIGS is almost an arcade game. Though the gameplay itself feels fairly realistic, concessions are made to make baseball more ... fun. The developer showing off the game mentioned that baseball is kind of a boring game, but it has moments of extreme excitement. Home runs, triple plays, and stolen bases all grab your attention and make the game worthwhile. To this end, Blue Castle Games decided to increase the action in the game. You're gonna get more home runs, you're make more spectacular plays, and there are gonna be more 'wow' moments per game than you may see at your local ballpark. Also, as you pull off great plays, you earn special points for moves that allow you to power up for a super powerful hit or save, à la NBA Street. Overall, it seemed like a great combination of realism and arcade fun, a rarity in sports games -- especially baseball games.

Gallery: The BIGS (Wii) | 7 Photos

The motion controls worked pretty well, too. It's clear that Blue Castle Games put a lot of thought and testing into the controls, as batting, pitching, and fielding are all fairly intuitive. To bat, you just flick the Wiimote to the side at the correct time. You can also stand in a batting position, which seems to help a bit, but at the expense of your dignity. I never could quite get the hang of the batting; it seemed like it was hard to swing exactly where I wanted. Other people were having a blast though, so I got the feeling that with more time, I could have nailed it down as well.

Pitching is done by holding down the B button and raising the Wiimote above your head and then swinging it down while releasing the button in time with the golf-swing style meter next to your pitcher. You can also twist the controller to either side while doing this to put spin on a pitch, which I thought was a nice touch. Picking-off runners on base seemed easy too, with a simple flick in direction of the base being all that was needed. Fielding was similar, with simple flicks of the controller to toss the ball to the correct base, though you can also use the d-pad to choose the base you want to throw too. Movement was handled via the nunchuck's analog stick, and running was achieved by frantically shaking the Wiimote. Movement seemed a bit slow and the running felt a little messy and awkward, but both were acceptable.

The graphics were a bit of a disappointment, as they looked more like a PlayStation 2 game than a beefed-up GameCube title; polygon clipping on the stadiums, severe aliasing and lackluster textures all brought the game's presentation down a couple notches. Players were somewhat recognizable, but paled significantly next to the player models in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. Indeed, the on-hand developer said the only difference between the PlayStation 2 and the Wii versions were that the PlayStation 2 had online play and the Wii version had motion controls.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with The BIGS. For Wii owners looking for a bit of baseball fun above and beyond Wii Sports, I'd recommend checking it out when it's released on June 25th. But if you have any of the other next-gen consoles, it's not hard to recommend the PS3/360 one instead.

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