I’m going to be entirely honest here. I don’t think of the iAnything as a gaming device in any serious sense. Having games on your phone is neat, but I never really expect them to be of any real quality. Though, I’m generally more forgiving of them since they are usually free or 99 cents. That being said, there are some folks out there who’s only link to video games is their iWhatever and this article is really for them. Let’s face it, it’s hard work trying to decide what to spend our 99 cents (or nothing) on, and those of us who have the capacity challenged versions of our respective devices have even more to worry about in the realm of music, video, app, book, and photo priority. So here are the best and worst iThing sports games, in no order and written about totally at random!

Lies. Utter lies.

I wrote that paragraph before I actually looked into what was available in the realm of app store sports games. What has my research taught me?

Every sports game in the app store is garbage.

Seriously. There is so much trash in there you can almost iSmell it. And No, before you even say it, I haven’t played them all. I’m not going to pay 99 cents for every game and try them out. That’s crazy, and if I had a budget for these things I wouldn’t spend it on iOS games. I’d spend it on important things, or some grillz.

I’m not a very good journalist, so I actually just picked two games to write about out of all the crap I tried. I’m such a bad journalist that they were both baseball games. I’m such a terrible journalist that, in fact, they were both different versions of the same game. I could go on, but at some point your going to figure out I’m only going to write about one game. That one game is really great though. So good in fact, that I don’t think you need to play any other game on your iJiggamawhatzit.

 Just play Baseball Superstars II

Baseball Superstars II is pretty neat. It has everything you would expect a big name baseball game to have. It has the exhibition, home run derby, tournament, and season modes that all baseball games have. It also has “My League” modes, which allow you to manage a single team, single pitcher, or single position player through multiple seasons. In the My Pitcher and My Batter modes, you take control of a user made player and develop him into a star from the ground up, much like “Road to the Show” mode in MLB The Show. For a free iPhone app (the price has since gone up to not free) this mode is surprisingly robust and fun.

Overall, the actual gameplay in Baseball Superstars II is a fantastic mix of fast arcade style play and simulation. On the arcade side of things, it’s very easy to have a .400 or above batting average or an on base percentage of .600 or more. As a pitcher, look for 14 or 15 strikeout games all the time and wild curving fastballs that top 100 mph on a regular basis. The games are fast and it’s possible to play two or three games in ten minutes or less in some modes. You can fill out your batter or pitcher with super swings and super pitches, respectively, and choose two super players in the team mode. The super players are generally strange and entirely out of place, but they are still a fun addition to the game.

Some footage for all of you to see.

On the flip side, you have the different My League options that offer up a more realistic-in-quotes type of play. These modes are where the game both shines and shows it’s ugly side. The great gameplay is still very present, but there are nagging issues with how the My Pitcher and My Batter modes progress. While all three of the My League options are spectacularly engrossing and fun, they show the true nature of Gamevil’s business model in all its money grubbing glory. Sure building up your superstar pitcher is fun, but it happens so damn slowly and there are so many restrictions on you that some of that fun is ruined, all in an attempt to coerce you into spending real money on pretend shit. It’s an ingenious, although evil, tactic and I will never fully understand the hideous hate engine that is working behind the scenes.

At the heart of it, the My [Player] mode is a story based baseball RPG. After choosing whether you want to create a pitcher or position player, you alternate between training, resting, going on short dates with several virtual baseball girls (not kidding), and playing baseball. Overall, the story parts are overshadowed by the development of your player and actually playing baseball, but they are written well enough and are mostly humorous. At times they do feel out of place, but since they often give your player bonuses for watching them, they can be worthwhile.

Training your player is little more than deciding which stat you want to increase and watching a little animated exercise, but, as with the entire game, the presentation and style are great. Unfortunately though, this is where the game’s ugly side makes its appearance.

The training system is incredibly flawed and seems to be built entirely around funneling you into spending actual money in game. Since all of the actions you can take between games require “active” points, you are severely limited in how fast you can improve your player and experience the story. On top of that, you also have a moral rating that affects your ability to play at 100% and also if you get hurt or sick. Training reduces your moral far more than it increases your skills and winning games increases your morale far less that training reduces it. So you have to rest a lot to regain morale rather than train or hang with the ladies. You fall into a loop where if you don’t train, your player is slapped with skill debuffs. If you don’t rest, you get hurt or sick from low morale. If you’re always training and resting, you never see any of the story segments. It really is a vicious trap where the only solution is spending real money for boosts to in game cash so you can buy items that heal your player or give him more active points, or paying to turn off sickness and injuries.

The micro transaction business model has the ability to work and be profitable without sticking it to the player, but it’s a flaming pickled pitch-fucking-fork in the ass in this case. I find that sad because the game is so good, Gamevil could easily have priced it higher, made it a little less of a jerk, and kept those micro transactions out entirely. Why they chose to be assholes I will never know. It not only decreases their relevance and credibility as game developers, but also tarnishes iOS devices as gaming platforms in general. This is an argument for a dedicated video game site however. Cad T. Wasp is too good for that kind of talk.

 /soapbox

My ranting aside, this game is absolutely great. The pitching mechanics are intuitive and easy. There’s a good selection of pitch types to choose from and they generally function realistically. Batting requires skill and timing, but isn’t so difficult to be a detriment, though the “swing” button could be a bit larger. Other than that the touch controls work flawlessly. Creating your pitcher’s Super Pitch is one of the more fun and well thought out parts of the game, and making your own Bugs Bunny pitch is well worth the trouble. If you have the patience to stick with the game, eventually all the stuff in the last two paragraphs won’t matter since you will accumulate enough money and G-points (the game’s currency) to never have to worry about your morale or limits on the actions you can take between games. It’s all fun from there on out.

If I was a reviewer, instead of just some guy, I’d grade it or give it some arbitrary number. But I am just some guy so I’ll just tell you Baseball Superstars II is the best sports game in the app store. There are actually several games in the series, many of them free and all of them great, but I find the visual style of this version to sync the best with the mechanics and overall feel of the game. Though some people may be put off by the anime style, the art is charming and the overall presentation is top notch.

So get it. Get it now and reduce the game speed in the options menu to give it a real leisurely baseball pace. Otherwise it plays way too fast.

If you want to know just how Asian this game is, check out the trailer.

Oh yeah, it’s also on Android stuff now. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE!

HOMELUN!

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Comments
  1. k spexet says:

    I like the term ijiggamawhatzis

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  4. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  5. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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