Big strikeouts and even bigger homers make The BIGS a fun arcade baseball game, flaws and all.
- Fast-paced gameplay is fun
- Pitching and hitting are equally satisfying
- It's the only full-fledged baseball game on the Wii so far.
- A bit shallow, even for an arcade-style game
- Fielding and base running controls are poor
- No home run pinball or online play.
As good as baseball games have gotten, many people feel that they're too complex and yearn for the old days where you could play an entire game in 15 minutes but didn't have to have a college degree to figure out the controls. If you like fast-paced, over-the-top baseball, The BIGS should be right up your alley. However, the motion-sensing controls aren't always ideal and the lack of online play and home run pinball make the Wii version, while still good, inferior to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.
The BIGS has a lot in common with Midway's Slugfest series; the games move along at a brisk pace and there are plenty of gargantuan home runs, as well as some absolutely filthy pitches. To throw a pitch, you hold the Wii Remote vertically and simply press the A, B, or A and B buttons together, make a pitching motion (twisting it left or right if it's a breaking ball) and holding the buttons until you've gone past the mark on the meter. If you wait too long or release too early, your location will be off and you'll tip your pitch to the batter. Once in a while, the game fails to recognize that you're holding down a button, and it feels as if you're emulating a 3-year-old child throwing a ball rather than a Major League pitcher, but the pitching mechanic is functional. Each pitch is rated according to the pitcher's ability to throw it. This ability decreases as the game goes on, but the change can be accelerated by giving up hits. The harder the pitch is hit, the less effective it will be, and eventually, you'll lose the ability to throw the pitch completely. This isn't a huge problem when playing a single game because you've got plenty of pitchers at your disposal, but it's an issue in rookie challenge because a pitcher's stamina level carries over from game to game.
The turbo meter from the PS3 and 360 versions is nowhere to be found, but you still have a power-up meter. On defense, this can be filled by striking out hitters, making great plays, and robbing home runs. Once it's full, you can use it on either offense or defense for one at-bat. When it's used on defense, your pitches are all powered up and nearly (but not quite) unhittable. You'll also steal some of the points from the opposition's power-up meter depending on how many strikes you throw. Even when you're tossing regular pitches, it's a blast because the pitches are so darn nasty.
Hitting is even easier than pitching. You flick the remote forward for a contact swing and push the A button and flick the remote for a power swing. If you really want to get into things, you can hold the remote as you would a bat, but you'll have to hold the Nunchuk up while you swing and then move them both down in front of you so you can run the bases. This isn't really ideal. You don't have to worry about lining up cursors or using the analog stick to try to match the pitch location--it's all about timing. The analog stick can be used to aim your shot, but there's no reason to be intimidated--it's easy to do and not all that necessary. You can increase your power-up meter fairly quickly by getting base hits, walking, or getting beaned. Activating your big hit power-up will guarantee a home run, provided you make contact. But this isn't just any old home run, it's a titanic blast that will spark as it hits the fair pole or explode when it hits the scoreboard. It would have been nice to have a bit more variety with regards to where the ball goes when it's hit because it seems to go to the same few spots over and over again. It also would have been nice to not get home runs taken away by the CPU several times in a game, but for the most part, hitting is a lot of fun.
Where The BIGS stumbles is in its fielding and base running. Once you've practiced (and when it works) moving the remote up and down to run faster and using buttons to select the runner, moving the analog stick to direct them works OK, but too often the runners don't make the turn when you want them to or they stop in their tracks just shy of the base. The ability to run full-speed into the catcher like a freight train is totally awesome the first time you see it and makes up for some of the base running woes, but not all of them. The rest of the game is so simple you wonder why base running is so complicated. The controls are also complicated and unresponsive when you're in the field. Once the ball is hit, you're given control over the player in the best position to make a play, but the ball is hit so hard that it's often already passed you by the time you figure out who you're controlling. This issue is exacerbated by a fielder's inability to change direction quickly; if you take one step in the wrong direction, you can forget about getting to the ball in time. You can dive for the ball, but you've got to figure out who you're controlling, get him in position, hold a button, and then flick the controller in the direction you want to dive. Considering that you're probably diving for a ball because it was hit hard, you don't have much time to get all these things done.
Once you manage to grab the ball, you must flick the remote in the direction of the base you want to throw to. This is doesn't always work, and even when it does, it's so slow to respond that double plays are a rarity. You can rob home runs, but unless you're playing another person, these opportunities are few and far between. Finally, the plays where the ball hits a fielder, knocking him down as it ricochets away are far too common and are all the more frustrating thanks to the lousy fielding controls. But even these issues don't prevent the game from being a ton of fun to play.