Konami is well known in the gaming world and is a much larger game company than the typical WiiWare studio. With their resources, a simple budget title should be something they could throw together in a weekend. Unfortunately, Sandy Beach (developed by Frozen Codebase and published by Konami) looks and feels exactly like a game that was thrown together in a weekend - and that's not a good thing.
As you can see from the price tag as well as the screen shots, Sandy Beach is a cheap game. We point this out not to excuse its shortcomings. Rather, we simply think that understanding this will help explain some of Frozen Codebase's design choices. For instance, your playing field is composed entirely of a solid plane of sand. Your building blocks, sand, are a different shade of the same colour. Sandy Beach is not going to win any awards for best art direction, but this must have been easy to whip up from a design perspective and in that way it almost makes sense.
That said, the first thing you should know about Sandy Beach is that it is actually two games in one. For such a modest price it sounds like a pretty good deal on paper and this should be a strong selling point for many people. The problem is, neither of the featured game modes are worthy of your attention.
The first is a "sandbox" game. Before you get all animated, we don’t mean like Grand Theft Auto of course! We mean it’s literally a sandbox game. You have your little segment of a beach in which to scoop up sand, dump it into piles, and then shape it into the form of a castle. That’s game number one in a nutshell (or crab shell -- ahem). There is no conflict of any kind in this mode; the only objective is to play around and build a pretty sand castle. Those of you with a creative streak will enjoy this, at least for a little while. There is a multiplayer co-op mode that parents will no doubt approve of when it comes to indulging in a spot of non-violent fun with their children. But just as was the case with My Aquarium, many Wii gamers will be left scratching their heads wondering whether or not you can actually go as far as to call this a "game."
The second play mode is where most gamers will spend the majority of their time. Dubbed "Crab Battle" mode, it certainly is an appealing concept. After developing your sandcastle building skills in the first mode, you can put them to good use here as you build, defend, and repair your castle amidst wave after wave of attack by nefarious sword wielding crabs. In terms of scope it’s a lot like the classic arcade title Rampart, and that is most definitely a positive thing in our book.
There’s no story or exposition in Crab Battle, but then again some concepts need no explanation. When you see an army of crabs marching toward your sandcastle, hell-bent on tearing it down with their claws and little swords, what else would you do in a situation like that? That’s right, you would point your Wii remote at the nearest crab and slap him. Slap him like that friend of yours who hasn’t downloaded a single Wiiware game yet. And then slap all of his buddies too.
While you are slapping crabs with the on screen hand indicator, the cannons you have mounted on your castle walls will fire upon the crabs and kill them. Cannon placement is the most critical part of castle design in Crab Battle; placing a cannon on the front lines is easiest, but it also can result in its easy destruction by the crabs. A better design is to place your cannons deeper inside the castle atop high towers to give them wide firing arcs, then place circles of shorter fortifications around your castle in an outer wall. The better you get at this, the less damage you will take and the more waves of attack you will survive.
Slapping crabs to stun them will only get you so far. Good castle design and cannon placement is more important because when the crabs attack, everything is automated. You can only stun crabs by slapping them. It’s up to your castle to win the battle, and kill all of the crabs.
In all strategy games there is some cost to limit how many actions you may take. In Crab Battle, that cost is time. You have only a limited amount of it in between each wave of attack. And in that time you must repair damage, place more cannons (there will be more crabs in increasing numbers each wave), and if there is time build even more walls. You’ll need all of it to survive, but you’ll have to make choices and make them quick.
What makes this tough is not the game itself. Rather it is the controls that will often leave you frustrated as you race to repair broken sections of your wall only to have to fight with the Wii remote to point at the exact spot you are missing. Your frustration will mount as you misplace your sand pile and must go scoop up some more to make another attempt. With each bucket full of sand, you may dump three sand piles. This is not a very large amount, and scooping up additional buckets of sand can become tedious as you attempt to build your castle out and up only three blocks at a time with the clock still ticking.
An additional minus (or plus, depending on how you look at it) is that in Crab Battle there is no reward for decorating your castle. In the first game mode, at least you are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment when you build a pretty castle. But in Crab Battle, there is no creative design element; your castle will always consist of hastily dropped piles of sand sprinkled with the occasional cannon. Your only tools will be the bucket (for more sand) and inexplicably, a hammer to remove blocks that you have mistakenly placed. While it’s true that it can be difficult to place blocks where you want them, why you would waste additional time tearing down your own blocks is beyond us, but there it is.
There is no multiplayer in Crab Battle. So while it is a neat concept, it will only last you until you grow bored with the single player. And because much of the game plays on autopilot, that likely will not take very long.
Having two game modes is good because there is a little something for everyone here. The first game type rewards right-brained creative types while the second game is designed for more analytical left-brainiacs. Unfortunately, both types of people will most likely feel somewhat unsatisfied by each; they are both very simple, lacking in repeat play value, and suffer from unforgivably clumsy controls. Sandy Beach looks and plays like a hastily thrown together game that could have greatly benefited from longer development time. Of course, this would have resulted in a higher price tag for the customer. If you remember that you get what you pay for, you may very well extract some limited enjoyment from Sandy Beach, but our advice is to avoid this bargain-basement release and save your Wii Points for something more worthwhile.
Oy, I was a bit interested in this game. Too bad...
i think it will still sell while just like My Aquarium still is, its disappointing to see all those good wiiware games in the works and its seems to be ever monday i get exceed about hopefully something good coming out and week after week it medicore. I guess there is always next week
At least you don't have to wait 2 whole weeks after they've put out another 'crab' game...
Yeah, sounded interesting but I guess it didn't pan out... If you want TD with terraforming I guess you could play CA Chicken mode instead...
Huh. The game sounded pretty good, but the graphics weren't up to par. I expected a 7. Konami needs to step up their WiiWare act.
Is Spencer McIlvaine a new reviewer? If so, good find. This is one of the best-written reviews I've seen here. (And that's no small feat. I typically read reviews of games I know I don't want just because the writing around here is so good.)
Good job, Spencer. An informative and very intelligent review!
Nicely done review. Seems to concur with my first impressions. I do hope that Konami tries again with this idea and implements it better.
YES! I guessed 4
And I agree on Spencer's writing, good job! Won't be getting this one
@Chicken Brutus - Spencer made his debut here waaaay back in May with his review of Family Table Tennis. It is just the luck of the draw that he has done so many reviews in a row lately
Oh come on Konami, just release Gradius Rebirth now. What's the dealio?!
Not surprised. The game didn't look particularly enticing to begin with.
guess those 500 points get put into the fund for animales whenever it comes
Another game we don´t need in Europe
Thanks for the informative, well-written review, Spencer. I do have one criticism of it, though . . .
I should say at the top that I'm not going to be buying this game, so no harm done, but I didn't like that you gave a strategy tactic in a review of a game . . . the "A better design is to place your cannons . . . " part.
Let ME figure that out, by playing it (well, not THIS game, but you get what I'm driving at).
Like I said, it doesn't matter with this game, but if you offered up hints and tips in a review of a game I wound up buying, I'd be a little annoyed.
You know I perked up a little when I heard this game was like Rampart. I thought, cool 2 players can build sand castles and defend them. I am in let me get 500 points. Then I read the rest of the review There should have been at least a multi-player mode in the Crab battle game
I knew this game was gonna bomb.
Nice review Spencer!
reviews here are best written of any game site I've been to. I'm always here just for that. I was also excited for a "Rampart" style game. I kept an atari lynx around for years, just to play rampart (my favorite version).
So many sites seem to be all about the "wow, shoot em' up" factor of a spoiled rich kid, not the "is it really fun?", kinda thing. Thanks, folks.
Anyway, for 5 bucks I may get this anyway just for some castle defense fun, I can handle bad controls as long as theyre not totally 'broken'.
Well thanks for the praise everyone. But I don't write for my own glory. I just do it to help save you some cash.
That's a good point about giving away the 'strategy' to the game. I always give a glimpse into the gameplay with each review, but not necessarily the strategy. I only used it here as a way of showing that the game wasn't completely mindless and that it still required some thought to castle design. I just won't make a habit of it.
I was almost expecting this to be a suprise hit. Meh.
Nice review, this doesn't appeal to me anyway; I expected it to be shovelware and now I'll keep myself far away from this.
I couldn't agree more with the review. I went ahead and grabbed Sandy Beach last night and played around with it until I lost interest. It just wasn't very well executed. And I'm with Daz, bring on Gradius Rebirth and stop toying around with us!
Hopefully that’s just sand in your pants and not crabs…
Great review as always. I expected this to get a 5, this game will go on the disappointing pile along with several other WiiWare games.
I hope we get good surprise releases, that would change my opinion of the WiiWare service completely.
Hm, not as good as I hoped. Oh well, there's still other stuff worth looking forward to.
Hopefully next week will be better.
If we start getting info/dates on Bubble Bobble Wii and Animales, we'll have definite reasons to get excited about WiiWare in 09.
But until then, there doesn't seem to be much. (Evasive Space maybe...)
Meh. It looked okay.
As fun as it is to slap crabs, I'll pass. My expectations weren't high for this game anyway. Great, thorough review Spencer!
C'mon Konami. Show some love for Wiiware! You can do better than this!
@Chicken brutes: Huh? Bubble Bobble Wii? WHERE WHERE!?
On this very site, my friend!
Get excited. I know I am.
@Gabbo: Thanks for taking my comments so well. And I really enjoy your reviews.
You do a bang-up job. I hope the big wigs around here offer you a slice of that tasty burrito soon.
good game for kids but for gamers it
Meh, didn't really think it was gonna do good.
Just curious if anybody else does this: whenever Wiiware posts a new review, I always scroll to the bottom to see the score, and then, whether the score is good or bad, I scroll back to the top to read the full review with the score in context.
I thought this could have been a good romp, but now judging by the amount of thought the developers put into, I decided probably not.
Nope, I read the review and guess the score at the end, and if I'm way off, I can tell it's a bad review (not that I've seen this happen on this site )
Konami now has two 4/10's on this site. Turns out you don't need a big name or tons of money to make a good game
Watched the video on Nintendo Channel and it looked unpolished. This confirms that theory.
was gonna get this, now I'm not. Glad I checked the review.
Hey, I really like this game. I do get a kick out of slapping those crabs around and working to get my cannons placed just right for the biggest bang for the buck. My kids jump up and down cheering me as I go and my wife now craves slapping crabs. Its not the biggest, baddest game, but the game cost me $5, less than a movie ticket, and has kept me entertained for at least 10 hours so far. If I get sick of it tomorrow it would have been worth it. For now it has a small cult following at least with my family.
Apparently it does have a cult-following since it's still in Canada's Top 20 WiiWare games. Good to know some enjoy this.
Oh gosh, no thank you!
Got this during vacation time this year.at first I gave up on the controls and i let the game sit for about a week then I sat down and really tried to figure it out.Once I got a hang of the controls it was actually kind of fun.Does take some time to get the controls right. 3/10
omg i bought this and it is HORRIBLE! 1/10 dont understand and !! so mental!! wow, this shouldnt even be a 4
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