- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles for everyone in the family.

Go Play: Lumberjacks (from Majesco Entertainment for the Wii, $29.99) — The level to which game developers will go when trying to tap into the blossoming Wii market share never ceases to amaze me.

Who would have thought the insane lumberjack competition seen in the wee hours of the morning on ESPN 2 actually would make a fun video game?

Of course, players chop wood and hit targets using movements and button mashing with the Wiimote as they control an ax or chainsaw to buzz through pine.

In addition, 15 four-player events broken into five categories satisfy and frustrate. They include climbing up the side of a log while cutting out divots of wood to place springboards, tossing axes at targets and grabbing coins tossed onto an obstacle course of timber.

And why not throw in the Wii Balance Board to try and stay afloat on slippery, rolling logs while trying to knock off competitors with a shake of the Wiimote. I’ll skip using the not-very-effective scheme of shifting my weight on the board to control a saw.

Other than a Dudley Do-Right type of lumberjack, players can choose from numerous other animated characters such as a pirate, ninja, knight and 1980s rocker to win trophies and upgrade gear.

Multiple event tournaments round out the action and are reminiscent of “Battle of the Network Stars.”

Yes, it’s an unusual way to spend an evening, but Go Play: Lumberjacks delivers the goods for the Wii family. It’s a party game easy enough for older and younger players.

The Bigs 2 (from 2K Sports, for Xbox 360, $59.99) — My favorite baseball video game returns, giving fans an action-packed arcade experience.

No room for the purists here, this is a theme-park version of America’s favorite pastime skewed as if its superstars were superheroes. In the exaggerated action, take part in a regular baseball game while compiling points in a turbo meter to eventually unleash smoking-fast pitches, stadium-busting home runs and spectacular catches.

This year, besides playing a full 162-game season mode complete with trades, batters have a wheelhouse zone to crush pitches, rosters can be updated, and a Big Blast option nearly guarantees an eye-popping grand slam.

I also want to touch on a pair of features worth a look.

First, Become a Legend takes a player from customizing his star to working from rehab in the Mexican leagues back up to the majors while conquering various challenges to regain his Hall of Fame chops.

It’s mostly fun early on with simple opponents and chores (catch more balls than another fielder in a minigame) until specific tasks bog down the process. Depending on your chosen position, trying to make a legendary catch or going up against Dave Winfield, Wade Boggs and even Reggie Jackson can really frustrate.

Although fun and time consuming, I actually preferred last year’s Rookie Challenge, a less complex mode for the average player.

Next, minigames are in greater abundance. Of them, Home Run Pinball, a slugfest to break parts of building and collect points, now takes place in numerous cities and making a great catch requires a complex chain of button-pushing.

A multiplayer mode for up to four players rounds out the Bigs 2 package. It’s led by a cooperative mode perfect for a father-and-son bonding experience.

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