Game Over Online ~ Pocket Baseball

GameOver Game Reviews - Pocket Baseball (c) BadgerSoft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Pocket Baseball (c) BadgerSoft
System Requirements Pocket PC with ARM/MIPS/SH3 CPU, 1-2MB storage memory, 6MB program memory
Overall Rating 63%
Date Published Friday, August 31st, 2001 at 09:49 PM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Pocket Baseball was supposedly a game that is based on a classic boardgame of the name Baseball. When I first came across this game, I thought it would be a pseudo baseball sim, more in the likes of what football simulators do for soccer fans who are not avid EA FIFA players. I certainly am too young to know of the days when tabletops reigned supreme. This in fact, is actually an entire game of baseball played based on rules of a boardgame. Boardgames have had a tremendous influence on gaming. Indeed, the very first RPGs were based on boardgames. Entire franchises like Mechwarrior are intrinsically tied with their tabletop brethren. A title I recently looked at, Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates, had immense tactical and strategic depth probably due to its sophisticated boardgame roots.

Installation of Pocket Baseball was a bit spotty. You'd think with the relatively sparse graphics and utilitarian nature of the entire program that its resources would be minimal. The title weighs pretty hefty for a text-only game. On initial startup, the game seems to compile or do first-time setup. However, because my bloated iPaq could not field anymore memory, it merely froze. I had to quit or soft-reset the iPaq in order to free enough memory (although I had no notice this was needed to be done) before the game could start in earnest.

Like all computerized versions of boardgames, you are emancipated from the rulebook and plunged straight into the game. Pocket Baseball lacks any official licenses to Major League players, so all of the teams and player names are fictional. I recall in the days of Hardball when clever and sometimes humorous substitutes were used to recreate the illusion that you are commanding a realistic team, which does not seem the case here. You can, however, easily import teams created by the developers into the game. In fact, there is a tutorial on their website about how teams are setup.

This really is a moot point because every player is given the same three functions when they are at bat: a normal hit or bunt. As the bases become loaded, more options are given to you. But that's really all you can do in terms of "playing" the game. For me, Pocket Baseball quickly became a game of tapping rapidly on the various options until the game ended. In one case of experimentation, I did no worse and no better simply selecting the default first choice (normal hitting) for every single choice presented to me. Sometimes, you are given the option to do things like steal bases and a percentage is calculated for you. I liked the percentage idea and for a baseball novice like me, I could make quick snap decisions without plowing through a bunch of stats. I thought this would be a real "simulation" of the rise and fall of baseball dynasties. In actuality, it's more like a simplified version of real simulations or even the real game of baseball. There is something to be said about the way the internal nuts and bolts of the game work when the score reaches double digits by the fourth inning. I'm not an expert at baseball but I know that is extremely rare. Having tried different teams with different pitchers certainly did not help alleviate the sometimes ludicrously high scoring games.

Don't expect any arcade style hitting or any flashy graphics whatsoever. This is, as mentioned before, a utilitarian game. The lack of any animation, for example, if you hit a homerun, is disconcerting. Though the interface is completely workable, along the lines that Microsoft Excel is also workable, it is not aesthetically pleasing, especially since you will be spending the bulk of your time on one screen. Perhaps one of the joys of the game being mute is the strong comfort or security you get when you play this during a boardroom meeting.

This would all be immediately forgiven if I had any inkling or hunch that this was a serious baseball simulation to the degree found in PC counterparts. However, without any stats-heavy, realism-laden type of game, I really cannot bring myself to overlook the lack of visual flare. Badgersoft, the developers behind this, state explicitly that they will do nothing but recreate the boardgame experience. Westwood did nothing but recreate Monopoly online and what was thought to be an instant megahit turned out to be a cumbersome, trivial and unproductive recreation of a classic, well known boardgame in electronic format. The price of Pocket Baseball certainly comes with great value. For a simulation game though, it certainly does not seem too complex. Mass tapping on whatever options are given can just as easily win the game for you. There is so much you can do with simplicity, until the gameplay disappears from the game. Maybe that's why the tabletop boardgames were that compelling.

Ratings:
[06/10] Addictiveness
[12/20] Gameplay
[5/15] Graphics
[08/10] Interface/controls
[06/10] Program Size
[N/A] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[12/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer

 

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Rating
63%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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