Oh yes, this game exists. Reception of the first game was mixed – some people actively hated the game, some passively hated it. Big Beach Sports managed to sell over a million copies; a very impressive milestone for any game. Despite this claim to fame, the game was a broken mess, and was only popular for being the first Wii game to feature Cricket. The motion controls didn’t work and it was a frustrating game to play. THQ decided this was a formula for success, and now it’s back. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Big Beach Sports 2, and I thought I’d give THQ a chance to redeem themselves. After all, they went to the effort of getting a special team to handle this sequel. What could go wrong? With two all new racing mini-games, I couldn’t help but try it.
Even after 20 seconds of loading, my body was not ready for this. “Dune Buggy” is not for the temporarily-enthused casual gamer looking for a quick race: it’s an experience into another dimension of vehicle handling. The controls in this game will put even the most hardened Wii racing veteran to the test. The track truly feels ALIVE as it constantly changes how much input you need in order to turn. Sometimes a slight turn will not even budge your vehicle, while a few seconds later the same application will send you flying head-first into the side of the track. The side of the track even has you guessing, sometimes becoming a solid object before you even get there, sometimes letting you explore a bit further. The constantly evolving challenge makes this one of the most advanced simulation racers out there. Handling these conditions means rapidly adjusting your movement as the track violently throws your buggy around. You can’t anticipate it; it’s all about reaction times.
The physics are extremely impressive – you could say “next gen” – as they are unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Contact with your opponents has massive implications, and the reaction varies from vehicles awkwardly sticking to each other, to multiple delayed flips in the air. If the game wasn’t already challenging enough, there are patches of dirt… on the dirt. These dark patches slow you to a crawl, and have a strange pulling sensation that seems to tilt your car in their direction. Another amazing physics innovation.
The robust track selection is one of the highlights. Rivaling even Ridge Racer Vita, it features “multiple courses” (quote from the back of the box) with varying obstacles like bananas and a slightly different opponent. Each gives the race a wild new twist, and each “track” feels fresh, like dogshit on wet grass. The bananas on the road allow you to do a 360 degree turn on the spot at full speed – every rally drivers’ dream. The different vehicles give you even more options, with a range of designs from purple to orange. Amazing.
I was already impressed with the complexity of the driving physics on land, but on water things are taken to a whole new level.
“Water Rocket” is a race across water, guiding high-powered lawnmowers through checkpoints. These things are wild and even more sensitive than the Dune Buggies, it’s unbelievable how fast they turn. They’re so fast that the game code can’t keep up, as sometimes the water rocket will teleport a few metres in one direction when you move. They are sturdy too: hitting rocks and walls is no problem, in fact it somehow speeds you up. THQ have used some tricks from the Gran Turismo series, as I was able to start bouncing off walls to gain time.
There’s 6 other games in Big Beach Sports 2, but the rest are so bad they aren’t even worth talking about. Believe it or not, there’s a surfing game using these water physics – it’s about as involving as fishing in a toilet. The whole game is depressing: bad graphics, dull music, sound effects made with a bucket, characters taken from a 3 year old’s nightmare, and barely any attempt at animation.
I’m greatly looking forward to returning this game to the original owners. I borrowed Big Beach Sports 2 from a collection of quality Wii games also consisting of We Sing, U Sing, and The Sims 3. I don’t know how people like this exist but they do. I’ll put it down next to Big Beach Sports 2’s physics as an unsolved mystery of the universe.