Big Beach Sports

Big Beach Sports clearly takes its cue from Wii Sports, with a series of 6 games illustrated with simple, bright graphics meant to appeal to kids. It's all set in cheerful beach surroundings, and with a PEGI rating of 3+ it's wholesome entertainment that even fairly young children can take part in.

Given the similarities between this game and Wii Sports, it's a shame you can't simply use your Mii profile in it, and start playing immediately. But if choosing your character's look is your idea of fun, Big Beach Sports provides lots of options. If you have a Nintendo DS you can connect it to upload custom faces. Otherwise it's just a matter of changing the clothes, expression, hairstyle, accessories, colours, and so on. The end result isn't unlike a Mii, in any case.

As far as the games are concerned, they range from mildly to moderately energetic. Some are easier to pick up than others. It pays to take the time to read the booklet and understand the commands. Although there are short tutorials before each game, they don't always cover everything. So in spite of the 3+ rating, children who are too young or too impatient to read the instructions and remember an average of 7 or 8 commands for each sport won't get the most out of this. Sadly there's no training mode, so you don't have the chance to practice different aspects of each sport, broken down into easy moves.

Soccer and American Football are the most complex sports on this game. As team sports they're probably the worst suited to the Wii. Although team sizes are considerably reduced compared with the real sports, it's still confusing to be playing as several team members in quick succession. Plus in soccer you need to use your arm to do both the arm and leg movements of your characters. It's not intuitive.

Volleyball, Boules, Cricket and Disc Golf are all simpler to pick up, and fun to play. As you progress you gain skill points, as well as icons when you reach certain goals. On the Game Options menu you can view your skill points and other achievements, and find out what you need to do to unlock the next icons. Sports can be played in Quick Play or Tournament mode. Quick Play is good because in most cases you can decide how long you want play to last, as well as other options. So you can choose how many holes of golf rather than simply being stuck with a 9 or 18 hole course. With tournaments players need to complete an easier one in order to unlock the next, harder tournament. Helpfully your progress is saved in the middle of these, so if you only complete one match of a three-match tournament you can pick it up where you left off. This is ideal for a sports game that's best played in relatively short sessions rather than for hours at a time.

That's not to say Big Beach Sports is very demanding, because for the most part it isn't. Unexpectedly for a game of this type it doesn't use the nunchuck attachment at all. Therefore it's not very balanced. If you play this for a long time you'll end up with one overdeveloped arm (unless you happen to be ambidextrous). That's as good a sign as any that no-one is really expected to play this for the sake of fitness. It's just a bit of fun.