(DSiWare)

Absolute Baseball (DSiWare)

Game Review

Absolute Baseball Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano

Foul balls

What happens when you take baseball, America’s favorite pastime, and mix it with Japan’s favorite pastime, the turn-based RPG? You get Tasuke’s newest DSiWare game, the Frankenstein-esque genre crosser titled Absolute Baseball. While the idea here is nothing less than genius, does an RPG in which you take control of a baseball team contain the right ingredients to make it a hit, or is this just another strikeout?

When you begin a new game you will first be asked to choose which team you would like to manage. You have the choice between 12 different teams, six from the “A” League and six from the “B” League, and your choice of league will determine which other teams you play against once the season starts. After you have selected your team, you will be immediately taken to a remarkably overwhelming screen featuring the statistics and positions of each player on your team. You can feel free to examine your team, but you won’t be able to make any major changes at first aside from line-up changes. The next screen that you will be taken to is the season schedule, essentially a calendar displaying which teams you will be playing and when. If you haven’t caught on yet, the entirety of the game thus far has been menus.

When you finally get to a game, that’s when you’ll notice just how many more menus they’ve managed to pack into this baby. While the top screen displays the baseball game you're actually managing, the bottom screen is all that really matters, as it displays the current pitcher and batters’ stats, along with the score of the game. From here you can bring up a menu to instruct your players to perform specific pitching or batting commands, such as throwing a grounder or bunting, depending on whether your team is at bat or not.

Depending on the outcome of the game, you'll be rewarded with growth points that can be distributed among your players between games. Whether you win, tie or lose you will still be awarded with some points, but in varying amounts, and these points are simply used to increase the statistics of the players of your choosing. After you’ve finished allotting growth points you'll be taken back to the season calendar where you can choose to look at your team again, or simply to move on to the next game in the season. For some unknown reason you are not given the option to go back to the title screen or main menu, but because Absolute Baseball only allows for one save slot, there’s no real reason to go back anyway.

Amazingly enough, there are over 160 games in the season, each lasting a full nine innings and taking a long time to play if you choose to go at it with technique. It is possible, however, to set the game to “automatic” which essentially allows the players to make all of the decisions for themselves. When this mode is activated, you can basically just leave your DSi on, leave the room for 10 minutes and pray for a win, or just do other things that are better suited for your valuable time. One suggestion is to cry in a darkened room for 10 minutes, or play catch on your own, both better alternatives to this game.

From an aesthetic point of view, the game fails to impress. The screens depicting the actual baseball games look nice enough, but the other 95% of the game consists entirely of boring and poorly designed menus. There is a lot of text all crammed into the two screens, making it all a bit overwhelming to look at and even more difficult to comprehend. Also, while it’s not a huge problem, it would have been nice if touch screen controls had been implemented at all. In a game where all you do is sort through menus, it would have been incredibly convenient to be able to control things with a quick tap. As it is, you will spend a lot of time pressing A to select things, B to go back, X to open more menus and the L and R buttons to cycle other menu options.

In essence, Absolute Baseball is a turn-based RPG in which there is no storyline and an absurd amount of games that take forever to play. There is little to no pay-off for winning any of the games, taking even more away from the potential fun that could be had with this title. As stated before, the idea for this game is original and interesting and could make for an innovative experience, but it fails to impress on almost every level.

Conclusion

If you absolutely love baseball and have always dreamed about managing a team, then by all means get this game. If you’re not a die-hard fan, however, then this is definitely a title to skip because you will end up having no fun at all. Absolute Baseball manages to take a great sport and turn it into a really long and uninteresting turn-based RPG.

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User Comments (25)

Supremeist

#4

Supremeist said:

I'm confused. Making a decent baseball game for DS shouldn't be too hard... Oh well.. STRIKE OUT!

BulbasaurusRex

#5

BulbasaurusRex said:

@3 Only because of kids' leagues. Soccer is only the 5th most watched sport in America.

So no details on how the managing actually works? When you have a sports managing simulator, of course it's going to be mostly menus. The idea is to have fun managing a baseball team. Just because you don't like the genre doesn't mean you can't give us details on the meat of the game instead of just complaining about boring menus for half of the review.

I do like this kind of game, so I will still get it once the 3DS shop opens.

Ron_DelVillanoAdmin

#6

Ron_DelVillano said:

@Bulbasaurus there is not actual "managing' involved. Like I said in the review: you can change the lineup, distribute growth points, and tell you batter/pitcher what to do. But that's it.

I'm not quite sure what else you're looking for.

slidecage

#7

slidecage said:

seems like someone didnt like it... I personally would rank this as one of the better 500 pt games that i paid for... the game does have a few bugs in it.. (you can build your stats up to 255 in each group but your player can still pop up and out everytime)

what did you expect for an sim game.... I have played around 30 games so far and i still like it... I love to know if the stats carry from year to year and you could crush the other teams later on....

overall i would give it a 7 out of 10.. its alot better then the other games out there and of the 18 games i downloaded i would have to say i play this 4th out of all 18 games... length i would put it as the longest game i have that i still enjoy playing.... if the stats move from year to year i would give it maybe an 8 out of 10...... its worth the 5 bucks big time to me... totally disagree with giving it a 4 out of 10

GreenAbobo

#8

GreenAbobo said:

I would have rated this a bit higher also. I too was a let down that they didn't implement touch controls, and a tutorial would have been great to soften the learning curve. That said, I found the unique premise engaging, and when you have a good inning where carefully considering the stats in your strategy pays off, it's a very rewarding experience.

BulbasaurusRex

#9

BulbasaurusRex said:

@Besen There has to be a way to manage the lineup in-game. How well does it work to pinch-hit, pinch-run, make double switches, switch defensive positions, warm relievers up in the bullpen, and make pitching changes? What kind of options are there for telling your players what to do? Can you bunt, squeeze, steal, hit-and-run, attempt a pickoff, call for an intentional walk, call for a hit batsman, change your defensive alignment, etc.? How deeply are the stats tracked? You barely scratched the surface of the actual gameplay.

jdarrell

#12

jdarrell said:

(Keeping in mind I have a limited understanding of the details. For example, the game claims weather has an effect, but I haven't noticed any weather yet.)

The players are generic clones so line-up changes aren't very fun; paying attention to fielding stats would probably be more pointless and tedious than it should be. No bullpen or warmups. There are seven commands when pitching such as grounder, strike out, motivation, you can only use one at a time, two of them are temporarily "move infield" and "move outfield." I think as a batter there's seven commands including everything you mentioned except to hit a batsman, and another one is to tell them to "swing stronger" (at the expense of fatigue or higher odds of striking out.)

For gameplay basically what happens is you hit button "A" and a random number of strikes and balls occur. (At this point the opponents command is displayed, so I think you're supposed to counter with the appropriate command here.) Press "A" again and the batter swings and either hits, fouls, strikes out, or walks. If you set it to automatic it hits "A" for you but gives you enough time to interrupt with the command "X" button whenever you want.

Stats? For team stats I think it's just win/loss record in the standings. It keeps track of player batting average, hits / RBI / Home runs, but these stats are hidden in a part of the menu you won't want to look at often and there's no way to see during a game. During game you see their letter grade stats (eyes, base stealing, etc.; and every player also has a conditioning and focus icon). There's other little details throughout the game such as attendance per game and which hand pitcher batters are good against. When slidecage mentions his good stat player doing badly, it could be a right handed player that's better against left-handed pitchers but really I have no idea. Also, in the games I've played the other pitcher throws a lot of grounders so that could make power stats irrelevant.

I don't think I saw anyone mention you can speed up the animations by pressing L at the command selection, makes games five times faster (edit: zeppray mentioned this in the other comments). It's a simple DSiWare baseball simulator, I haven't played enough to think about how fun it is.

SwerdMurd

#13

SwerdMurd said:

"Absolute Baseball manages to take a great sport and turn it into a really long and uninteresting..."

Sounds like the most realistic baseball sim ever to me. The only sport that's slower to watch than Golf is Baseball. A turn-based RPG is the only format that adequately simulates the constant mind-numbing downtime of the baseball experience.

jdarrell

#14

jdarrell said:

To add on to what GreenAbobo said, many of the innings have been shut-outs for me so far. Normally I would prefer higher scoring games, but since this is a management simulation the low scoring has made the games more competitive to me, it's pretty nice. And then when your strategy does get you some runs that shall probably win you the game it's great.

BulbasaurusRex

#16

BulbasaurusRex said:

@12 Thank you. Although it wouldn't have needed to be as detailed as you put it, that's the kind of stuff that should've been in the review.

@15 I'm not asking for manuals, but I expect some decent coverage of how the game actually plays in the reviews I read, stuff that identifies it from other games in the same genre.

So, I still want to know how well the mechanics of in-game lineup management works. Anyone?

jdarrell

#17

jdarrell said:

It's not trying to be a detailed simulator review so the review does cover everything and focuses on what the game is about. "You can change the lineup, distribute growth points, and tell you batter/pitcher what to do. But that's it."

I don't follow baseball enough to understand what you're asking by in-game lineup management. You have the same players for the entire season, about 13 fielders and 10 pitchers. Even though pitchers bat in A-league (B-league has DH), the pitchers all have 60 points (the worst) in batting stats and the batters all have the worst possible pitching stats. So if you substitute your pitcher while batting, when your side retires the game will pop up the switch screen again so you can tell an actual pitcher to pitch. You can also switch base runners and fielders whenever and as many times as you want, and switch their field positions. But most fielders have the worst possible stats in every position except their current one. (There's one stat each for 1st base, 2B, 3B, Outfield, Catcher, Short Stop)

BulbasaurusRex

#18

BulbasaurusRex said:

Um, it is a review on a simulator, so why wouldn't there be at least some details on the simulation?

I'd expect nothing less than to be able to do all those things, but how well does it work to do those things? Is it intuitive? Does it avoid confusion? Is it relatively fast to make changes? Does it avoid unnecessary steps? Etc. (I'd prefer a response in someone's own words rather than just making quick answers to each question like it's a checklist.)

zeppray

#19

zeppray said:

I still stand by this game...for $5 it is good and fun! It does say you can edit the names of your players in the instructions...but I have not figured that one out yet...maybe they just goofed up! Lots of you think they goofed up just making the game...but remember the price! Peace!

jdarrell

#20

jdarrell said:

"I'd expect nothing less than to be able to do all those things, but how well does it work to do those things? Is it intuitive? Does it avoid confusion? Is it relatively fast to make changes? Does it avoid unnecessary steps?"

The only buttons in the game are up, down, and A (and X/L/R to open menus), think about it. It's fast, painless, and so simple that it's impossible to screw up; I found it intuitive, but others were confused about how to fast forward and where all the manual information is. To put ten points into a character, I have to tediously open the team screen, move down to the player, hit right a few times until I'm at batter stats. Then I have to repeat the following ten times: hit X, hit down a few times until I'm at the stat I want, then hit A, then left, then A again. But it doesn't matter how repetitive this is and that they didn't care enough to put in touch controls because it's impossible for such a simple game to be slow in the menus.

There's no player injuries, so having two good pitchers has been enough for me to win about 30 of my 35 games basically effortlessly. (I just use whatever pitcher the game puts in automatically, and 9 outta 10 times it's one of those two). Perhaps for a challenge I'm not supposed to use any stat points. I'm having fun with it though, I like games like this.

Here's the worst Absolute Baseball video in the world (I forgot to show the standings screen, but it's the same as you'd expect on an official website or newspaper) [It's a 1-1 tie game. At 6:40 I put in a pinch hitter, at 7:05 I use the motivation ability, both fail. Game ends at 8:35]:

BulbasaurusRex

#21

BulbasaurusRex said:

@20 I didn't ask anything about fast-forwarding, the manual, distributing stat points, or injuries! It's not that complicated a question. How well do the menus and mechanics work to pinch-hit, pinch-run, make pitching changes, double-switch, and make defensive replacements during the game?

jdarrell

#22

jdarrell said:

"The only buttons in the game are up, down, and A (and X/L/R to open menus), think about it."

It's the exact same as the other ten baseball games I've played that use a D-pad, except you don't control the players.

I've already said the players are generic, selection is repetitive but fast, and there's no limits on number of switches --except that you have a limited number of players and the reserves all have useless stats-- so the only way left to answer is to say they're perfect. How could they have screwed it up to be less than perfect? How could it possibly be unintuitive? You said you don't have a DSi, so are you forgetting how convenient having dual-screens on a handheld device is for menus?

I've never had a point in the game where hitting up/down and the A button to switch a player was too much of a hassle (pointless yes, hassle no), especially since it's the only actual gameplay in the game. No injuries or trades is important because your starting lineup is so overpowered compared to your reserves. I'm more used to hockey games though so that's probably why I expect injuries and for "line changes" to have a significant impact.

If you use the stat points, you'll spend more time distributing stat points than switching players (that's how easy it is to switch players!), so why wouldn't someone want to know about a point example instead? I said how intuitive the most unintuitive features of the game are.

Your question has already been answered several times, it really is as mindlessly simple, painless, and intuitive as hitting up down A. It's as easy as clicking the post comment button here. It's a menu, imagine a baseball game from 1985, it's not some goofy iPhone app, it's a low budget game menu that didn't even bother including touchscreen controls and crams text explanations of what everything does (as seen in the screenshots).

In the pinch-hitter video, at 6:40, the four blurry words are the player names, L R cycles through pitchers [10 players total], catchers [1], infielders [2], outfielders [current screen, 4], and I popped up the giant blurry white box below their names so I could look at the numeric values of their various stats. It is very easy to switch a pitcher and multiple fielders; it's as easy as hitting up down A.

SyFyTy

#23

SyFyTy said:

It just seems to me like this reviewer was expecting something different.

please chill with the insults -lz

MC808

#24

MC808 said:

@SwerdMurd
Obviously you've never actually played in any sort of organized baseball league. If baseball is so boring to you, then why would you even bother with this game and make a comment?

BulbasaurusRex

#25

BulbasaurusRex said:

@jdarrell I finally got around to buying and trying the game, so here's the kind of stuff I was asking about:

The interface is decent but awkward at times. The menus are pretty well laid out, but some tweaking could've been done to make things a little more accessible. There are a good selection of strategy options, but it would've been nice to be able to use multiple compatible options at the same time, and the game doesn't tell you that you can reset the option if the batter is still at-bat after the first choice, nor does it tell you that you can just press "A" to select no special option at all. The different stats and management options are all explained well but hidden in a sub-menu that can only be accessed in-game. In-game roster management is quick and pretty intuitive most of the time, but you can't view which position your current batter plays nor the rest of your lineup until you enter the pinch-hit menu, while you are completely unable to see which batters are coming up (other than the current one, of course) on the other team while changing pitchers. As someone else commented, touch-screen controls and bullpen warm-ups would've been good additions but were left out of this game. Double-switches can be made, but it takes three different operations to (two player replacements and a position switch), which the game leaves up to the player to figure out how to do. The game always displays the ranked abilities of the current pitcher and batter, as well as the base stealing stat of your baserunners on the steal menu, but there's no way to check the base stealing stat of your opponent's baserunners, which is strange when one of the pitching strategy commands is to be cautious of possible base stealers. There is both in-game and day-to-day fatigue for both pitchers and position players (but no injuries, which probably would've overcomplicated things), and the game does you the courtesy of automatically switching the starting pitchers through each member of the starting rotation (which are the 5 pitchers with the highest stamina ranking on your roster, but that's something else the game forces you to figure out on your own) before each game. There is seasonal stat tracking, but it can only be accessed between games, although that's not too much of a disappointment when your ability rankings are always available. Of course, the game assigns you stat points to improve your players as you go along. Using them can sometimes prove tedious, but it's a nice twist to the standard formula.

Overall, the in-depth mechanics are pretty much a mixed bag in most areas, but the basic concept is still good enough to make this a worthy recommendation for those of whom enjoy baseball management sims.

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