Big Bash Boom (Switch eShop) Review
Big Bash Boom is Big Ant Studios’ take on the incredibly popular Twenty-20 (T20) format of cricket, favoured by families and younger cricket fans due to its ability to pack all the action of a five-day Test Match into a three-hour window. Unfortunately, Big Bash Boom lacks the same level of fluency and polish seen in its Don Bradman Cricket and Ashes Cricket predecessors.
On launch, Big Bash Boom on Switch was vastly inferior to its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, riddled with bugs, glitches and frame-rate drops which made the fast-paced format of cricket anything but. Thankfully, a patch is now live that rectifies many of these issues, but plenty of frustrations remain.
Putting these frustrations aside for a moment, cricket nuts can enjoy a bit of fun in Big Bash Boom, albeit with some patience. Most matches default settings, particularly in the quick-play mode “Casual”, are two five-over innings, which is a good amount of time to play a quick match and keep things moving briskly. Aside from Casual, only Tournament and Online round out the additional modes – a relatively light offering considering Big Bash Boom’s full-retail pricing. Starting a match is initially held up by an initial long loading screen, but the action motors along after that. Playing in handheld conjures longer loading times and blurred menu text, but the in-game action is on par with TV-docked performance.
As is widely considered to be the case with T20 cricket, Big Bash Boom is a batter’s paradise. Hitting sixes is always immensely satisfying, with a blazing trail of light in your team’s colours following the ball into the crowd. Bowling is less exciting, only by virtue of not having many ways to combat being belted around the park until activating your power-up. Randomly assigned power-ups accumulate over time for both teams. Once activated, they will show a flashy scripted animation and a brief explanation of what bonus they will imbue. Again, the bowlers are fairly limited here; the speed boost power-up helps send down 190+ km/h thunderbolts which are near-impossible to hit, but faster fielders and stopping running between the wickets by burning the pitch means little when most deliveries launch over the fence. However, the big-hitting is what the format is all about, so results generally come down to who makes the fewest mistakes with the bat. I would recommend turning up the difficulty which evens the balance between bat and ball, but no tutorials or methods of practising techniques makes this jump more difficult than it should be – more on this later.
Heavily inspired by fellow arcade sports title NBA Jam, Big Bash Boom’s real-life player depictions are a mix of facial realism blended with goofy large heads. The players who received the photo-scanning treatment look fantastic in-game and closely resemble their actual likenesses. Combined with the larger-than-life arcade depictions, the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Ellyse Perry and Alex Carey look hilarious while performing various celebrations based on popular moves all the kids love, like flossing, dabbing, and lots of other things popularised by Fortnite that this very old man doesn’t quite understand. Big Bash Boom looks sharp; well-known stadiums such as the MCG and Adelaide Oval are faithfully recreated, the razzle-dazzle of special effects visually pop, and little details like the “4” and “6” signs held aloft in the crowd add to a genuine depiction of attending a Big Bash game.
However, the animations can sometimes be rough, especially when fielding. Players will often field the ball regardless if their hands are in the correct position, and it’s common for throws from the outfield to miss the keeper, but the game doesn’t allow the batting team to run on overthrows. Conversely, scripted animations for celebrations are slick – I never knew I wanted to see a cricketer drop face-down on the pitch and mimic a slug to celebrate before, but now I want everyone to do it.
Although you may be drawn into the mystical allure of using the Joy-Con’s motion controls to feel like the real deal, just stick to the standard controls. Other than providing the ambiguous “flick” text regarding batting and bowling motion controls, Big Bash Boom offer no further explanation as to how best use the Switch-exclusive configuration. Attempting to imitate an actual cricket technique with a Joy-Con quickly descended into a mad waggle-fest reminiscent of many games during the Wii era, where accuracy and responsiveness were words omitted from the dictionary. Instead, the conventional controls are fine; the face buttons referring to different shots and deliveries, with the left-stick used to direct the end result. There are other buttons used for more advanced techniques such as using your front or back foot while batting, but these only become more important when bumping up the difficulty level, which also tightens the window of correct timing with bat and ball.
Despite being aimed at the T20, family-friendly demographic, Big Bash Boom is not necessarily a super-accessible game for new players. Unlike Big Ant’s previous cricket games, there’s no practice session in the nets to try different techniques. For bowlers, you’re given a vertical meter with different coloured sections that indicate the quality of your delivery, but you’re not told what is ideal, you have to figure that out yourself. On the batting side, minimal feedback is given, only stating “ok”, “good” or “ideal” in relation to timing, footwork and shot selection. Especially for new players, this feedback should at least indicate whether the timing is early or late, giving you tangible feedback to improve on.
Even cosmetic features like dressing up players in silly (but fun) accessories isn’t clearly explained. Navigating to the customisation menu, you not only have to get to the team you want to accessorise, but also switch from the “official” team to the “custom” team towards the top of the team roster menu. Otherwise, you are locked out of customising individual players and can’t navigate to what accessories you’ve unlocked. Which also extends to the finger gymnastics required to perform a celebration in-game, some requiring a bizarre combination of buttons to be held at once. A better method would be to allow you to assign celebrations to different buttons via the menu, allowing you to rotate through as desired.
Additionally, many of the celebrations and accessories are gated behind coins which are earned through playing, but the rate is slow enough to feel like a grind. There are also others that are unlocked through general play with no specified unlock criteria, leading to an annoying potluck of hoping you eventually get what you’re after. To make matters worse, when playing against a second player locally on the same console, they will be relegated to “guest” status and cannot access any of your unlocked celebrations.
Another frustration is that the field changes after every delivery, regardless of what happened the previous ball. If you’re wanting to play the strategic game like plenty of cricket nuffies out there, it’s exasperating having to open up the menu and change the field back to your selection repeatedly. There’s no custom field option which is understandable for a game focused on brevity and the on-field action, but this is all the more reason why Big Bash Boom should remember your field selections – currently, it slows down play significantly.
Recently, I revisited Ashes Cricket, which furthered my disappointment in Big Bash Boom. The latter has no training mode, no action replays, and no player or team creator features. Essentially, you’re paying the same amount for less content. Through AO Tennis, Big Ant has shown they commit to providing ongoing patches and free content updates, so Big Bash Boom has the potential to reach the same level of the previous cricket games which I hold in very good stead. Unfortunately, while fun in doses and laying a good foundation based on one of Australia’s most popular sporting competitions, Big Bash Boom is not currently up to the same standard as what we’ve seen in the past.
In short bursts, Big Bash Boom is a reasonably fun depiction of T20 cricket with splashes of arcade action but lacks the same level of polish and content seen in the Don Bradman and Ashes cricket games – for the same asking price. Knowing Big Ant’s track record with post-release updates, Big Bash Boom will keep improving with time, but it’s not there yet.
Review was completed using a purchased copy of the game.
+ Hitting sixes feels good
+ Player likenesses look goofily great
+ Celebrations are hilarious
- Lacks level of polish and content from other cricket games
- Unfulfilling unlock system a grind
- Controls and systems poorly explained; motion controls are a waggle-fest