With the basketball and hockey seasons drawing to a close, we’ll soon be in those summer months when one sport has top billing all to itself, baseball. If you want to experience America’s pastime on the go, Gamevil’s Baseball Superstars 2012 offers an anime-style take on the game.
There are two main ways to play in the game. If you want to just play baseball with no fuss, Exhibition mode allows you to play a quick nine innings. You chose from 10 teams to start, with various ratings for speed, power, and pitching. Each team has a specialty batter and pitcher, whose outfits and animations look like something out of an episode of Naruto. When pitching, pitch types and location are controlled by a variety of swipes. If the computer makes contact with the pitch, the fielding is largely controlled by the AI, which is a good thing as the pace of the fielding and base running is frantic. As the game progresses, you can swap in relief pitchers and pinch hitters.
Hitting in Baseball Superstars 2012 is controlled by angling your device to determine where your swing will go, and then pressing an on-screen button to swing. You can also direct base runners to steal from the hitting screen. While pitching is very easy to pick up in this game, there’s a steep learning curve for hitting. Pitches tend to break very late, and what looked like a high and outside pitch will suddenly catch the corner of the strike box, which is conveniently clearly marked, at the last second. As with real baseball, late and early swings will produce foul balls, getting under the ball will produce pop flies, and getting over the ball will produce ground outs. Getting the timing and location right, and correctly judging strikes versus balls, takes a lot of practice.
For more in-depth play, you can also choose My Batter, My Pitcher, and My Team modes. Here, you built a single batter, pitcher, and team across multiple games and season. Using g-points, you can determine the characteristics of you batter and pitcher. You go for a speedy, high on-base percentage hitter, or a muscle-bound home run machine. Pitchers are built around which pitch types they use. Cash, earned from your players’ salary, is used to buy equipment. The batters and pitchers from these modes can be used for the Challenge and Mission modes.
On the plus side for this game, there is a lot of content for a free game. The animations and details on the characters are top-notch. The sound effects create an authentic baseball game feel. There’s a wide variety of teams and special characters. It also maintains many of the aspects and nuances of baseball. You can get sacrifice flies and ground rule doubles, for example. The pitchers’ performance is tied to pitch count, and leaving them in for too long will lead to loss of control and velocity, making the bullpen just as important as in a real game of baseball.
On the downside, the game is very buggy. Every time you start the game, it produces an error message, and it will sometimes freeze in menus, requiring that your restart the game. It eventually become very difficult to upgrade your characters in My Batter and My Pitcher modes without buying g-points with real-world dollars. The game also has very high standards in My Batter mode. It will mark your hitter poorly if they’re anything less than MVP-caliber.
Baseball Superstars 2012 will give you a full, rich, mobile baseball experience, if you’re willing to put up with the bugs, batting difficulty, and the bait-and-switch anemic ability to earn g-points.