Recently, I can’t help but feel like the iPhone gaming market has grown stagnant, a lot of mediocre games keep coming in to the review bag, and it feels like it’s been a long time since I found myself truly excited for a game. That all changed with Baseball Sluggers. In fact, I actually purchased Baseball Sluggers with my own real money, no promo code for Dave on this one.
Baseball sluggers is a simple game in concept. It’s a home run derby, which is a fun thing to play in and of intself. Where the real fun comes in is that there is full online multiplayer over edge, 3g or wifi. Obviously, the game’s multiplayer runs best on wifi, but I had great experience’s on 3g and edge (although I never was in a non 3g area, I turned off 3g for testing purposes).
A friends list is also available for the multiplayer, so you can add all your close friends and battle them in some home run derby goodness. (Add the ipgn crew Dave – ipgndave, Nacho – ipgnnacho, Nigel – ipgnnigel, Matt – ipgnmatt. Don’t play with Nacho though, he’s really good.) The friends list is good, but it could be a little better. You can only invite people to play a game if they aren’t activly playing another game, which can be a challenge, and if there is someone you really want to play with, expect to sit on the menu screen and wait for them to finish, and invite them quickly before they start another game. Push Notifications while outside the game would be nice, but I can’t really knock it for this, as it is a really new feature for the iPhone platform. While the system could be better, it’s a step in the right direction for multiplayer on the iPhone.
When it comes to reviewing a game, for me at least, the big question I always ask myself is this: Is the game genuinely fun to play? A game can look as pretty as a Van Gogh painting, sound like a Slipknot song (maybe you prefer a Beethoven composition?), but if it doesn’t play well, what’s the point? Baseball sluggers plays well, incredibly well in fact. It is the most fun I have ever had playing a game on my iPhone, and I have spent more time with it then any other game. (Yes, even more then PuzzleQuest and Peggle.)
To hit the ball you simply tap the screen as it crosses over home plate, and there is a translucent bat hanging in the strike zone. You tilt the phone to aim at the ball as it crosses over the strike zone. The controls work incredibly well, and are super accurate almost all of the time. There was a couple rare instances, due to online lag, where I would tap the screen to swing, and got no response from my onscreen character, and this was due to having weak service where I was playing.
The visuals in the game are very nice 3d models. They are not exactly mind blowing or anything, but they look very good, and work well with the game. The sound is also pretty sweet. The sound of the bat crushing the ball to deep center field really brings me back to my days as a semi pro baseball player (lie), and it puts you into the feel of being in the batters box. There’s also no sound more satisfying then smashing the ball into the score board. The music is also good, lots of music you would hear if you were sitting at a live baseball game.
There’s only a couple things that keep this game from being absolutely perfect. The first of these that the gold balls (the games currency for unlocking new stuff) are little scarce, I would have liked to see a few more come along. It would also be nice if there was some kind of communicating between players between matches.
Baseball Sluggers is a must buy if you own an iPhone. It is the most addicting and fun game on the platform to date. If you like games, buy Baseball Sluggers.
Presentation & Graphics
The graphics are really nice, but not amazing and there are some frame rate drops in there. Still the 3d rendering is solid, and the menus look nice.
The music is awesome, just like what you would expect to hear at a major league baseball game. The sound effects are also really good, the crack of the bat sounds just like the real thing.
Super tight motion and touch controls, and the ability to play online over any type of connection. The game is just good old fashioned fun.
Online multiplayer, achievements, unlockables, multiple single player modes, friends lists… do I have to go on?
The game is awesome, there’s a couple small issues such as gold balls being a little to scarce and no communication between players in multiplayer that keep the game from being a 5, but it is an absolute must play.