Just in time for playoff baseball, Baseball Addict is Hexacto’s inaugural baseball title. If you think about it, though, it doesn’t seem like that at all because Hexacto has consistently turned out impressive sports titles over the past year. By now, the Addict series appears more like a good friend rather than a foreign entity and considering the breadth of the Addict franchise, Hexacto, dare I say, is in the process of constructing the underpinnings of a publishing powerhouse with perennial sports offerings.
Baseball Addict serves up baseball with a fictitious league of teams, artificial players and stadiums. Lacking the Major League license, the stadiums appear to be modeled after real-life counterparts. Although, for a Toronto resident, I was a bit saddened no one bothered to model the Skydome. Maybe our supposedly innovative dome is not so innovative ten plus years later. There used to be an old trick developers would employ when they didn’t get a license. They’d systematically change the names of people in the game to escape having to pay a hefty license. Barry Bonds would be Barry Barnes. Of course, nowadays, the potential revenue of a baseball game is far larger than the Earl Weaver days. Baseball Addict forgoes any of this chicanery and opts for a fictional league altogether.
While most sports titles tend to get increasingly realistic, Baseball Addict’s visuals have a distinct tone to them. They have a softened look to them as if someone was using a pastel like color palette or the camera is slightly out of focus. The slight blur blends in well with the animation, which is uniformly smooth both for batters and pitchers. Sharp details aren’t particularly important here since none of the players are real.
The controls and gameplay, on the other hand, are very sharp. I found myself having fun, not unlike my sojourn with Sega’s Baseball Advance and that was a very good baseball game. Baseball Addict comes close in its fun factor. It’s fun to pitch, playing the strike boxes and players. It’s also fun to bat and even the fielding is relatively easy. Baseball Addict doesn’t give you a full view of the field when the ball is in play. Rather than zooming out so players become microscopic specks, you use the mini-map on the top right corner to initiate throwing to first, second, third and home. It makes for a very clever idea to get around the lack of real estate.
Baseball Addict also keeps the management side of the game to a minimum. In truth, there isn’t much to manage but you do get season play and homerun derbies. With eleven players per team, there are only two relievers and no option for franchise play, player trading or off-season management. Finally, contraction or no contraction, having only eight teams makes the baseball schedule a little too simplistic, even in tournament mode.
In addition, Baseball Addict has two Hexacto-exclusive features. The first is the PSI interface or precision style interface, pioneered all the way back in Tennis Addict. The controls are very intuitive. I didn’t even need to read the manual or look at control definitions to start a ball game. In all honesty, I didn’t know PSI was in effect. The controls were that transparent. The second feature is Hexacto’s Scorecast, which lets you post your scores online to compare with other players. It’s a nice conduit device to keep games alive and considering the so-called multiplayer features of most console titles (via downloadable content), it’s not lacking. However, I was hoping Hexacto would allow for some downloadable content, like new teams or stats.
All in all, Baseball Addict is a solid baseball title. It succinctly captures the baseball zeitgeist with its sounds and scoreboard graphics. It does this even better than Sega’s Baseball Advance but unfortunately, isn’t as fast-paced. The only detractor is Hexacto’s lack of a license. In the past, Hexacto used anonymous soccer players for Soccer Addict and fictitious tennis players for Tennis Addict. However, as Hexacto continues to penetrate mainstream sports titles, it’s going to need to factor in licensing real players and teams. And baseball serves as a rallying cry for that because of its marquee players and the fact that in a lot of North American sports, teams are driven by individual players, rather than collective play. That’s probably why Peyton Manning is mugging for NFL Fever and Marshall Faulk for Madden 2003. Someone will eventually have to mug for this baseball game to hit the homerun stratosphere.
[07/10] Program Size
[14/15] Learning Curve