In a few ways, The Bigs franchise has saved baseball games from themselves. While The Show and MLB 2K have their place as solid simulators, the original Bigs was the first hardball quasi-arcade game to come along in eons that just about any gamer could jump into and have fun playing right away. Fast forward a couple of years, and The Bigs 2 has continued the franchise’s excellence - on consoles, anyway.
Sadly, the DS version is a flat-out bummer that pales in comparison to its console cousins. Suffering from an extreme lack of modes, it feels more like a demo than full title. All that you get are exhibition games, home run derby, and home run pinball. No season or career campaigns, much less online multiplayer. It’s a glaring dearth of gameplay options that had us doing triple-takes before realizing how little was available to actually, you know, do.
When we reluctantly took the field in - *sigh* - exhibition games, we were able to moderately enjoy ourselves. The game mechanics are simple enough to grasp quickly, and you can use either the stylus or the pads/buttons to take care of business. Hitting, pitching, and fielding controls are all intuitive, especially if you’re not a newbie to the series. The Bigs’ calling card - gathering turbo to use in key moments and compiling points to execute Big Blast or Big Heat powerups - remains intact and is what separates The Bigs from its more serious rivals.
The visuals and sound didn’t exactly wow us, especially the crowd (represented as colorful dots in the stands) and the painfully repetitive batter animations. It can definitely be a challenge to get your timing down at the plate early on, but within a couple of games chances are you’ll be doing just fine.
Still, we couldn’t get past the fact that every game we played was essentially a throwaway. With no season or career to keep us coming back, we couldn’t compel ourselves to keep playing after a parade of meaningless wins and losses. What’s more, the near-worthless Home Run Derby (you can only use one player and there’s no opposition) and the way-too-easy Home Run Pinball minigames barely qualify as meaningful diversions.
The main appeal of the DS version of The Bigs 2 is that it could be a nice introduction to baseball for kids. It’s relatively easy to play, and offers up a decent bit of strategy to go along with pitching and hitting. Other than that, though, it’s an eminently forgettable slice of an otherwise stellar franchise.
Sep 21, 2009