That ‘s me up there in that screencap “ admiring my latest sweet swing of the bat in Baseball Slugger: Home Run Race 3D (which I ‘m just going to call Baseball Slugger throughout this review).  I ‘ve been doing a lot of that the last few days.  Not because I ‘m so great at […]
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Review: Baseball Slugger for iPhone

Baseball Slugger for iPhone

That ‘s me up there in that screencap “ admiring my latest sweet swing of the bat in Baseball Slugger: Home Run Race 3D (which I ‘m just going to call Baseball Slugger throughout this review).  I ‘ve been doing a lot of that the last few days.  Not because I ‘m so great at the game “ as I ‘m not (yet!), but just because it ‘s just so nice when you hit a ball on the sweetspot. 🙂

One of the best ways to tell if a game is a really good one, is if it is chewing up significant chunks of your time, eating away continually at your productivity.  Baseball Slugger is guilty on both those counts “ but in its defense it is a helluva lot of fun at the same time.

What Does It Do?

It ‘s Home Run Derby on the iPhone.  If you ‘ve ever watched that part of the MLB ‘s annual All-Star Game festivities, you know that the Home Run Derby is pure exhibition stuff to help us all enjoy one of baseball ‘s most dramatic and powerful acts, over and over again “ performed by some of the game ‘s greatest contemporary sluggers.  Some years it ‘s a little bit of a dud, and a lot of the top guys don ‘t participate “ but when it ‘s good it ‘s very, very good.  Like last year “ when Josh Hamilton put on an awesome display of power hitting at the old, now gone, Yankee Stadium.

And if you grew up playing baseball, more than likely at some point you ‘ve imagined yourself in that Home Run Derby “ or even pretended to be in one while you and your friends battled it out to see who could smack the most homers.

Baseball Slugger brings that whole experience to your iPhone.  It ‘s just you against a pitcher “ and the only goal is to belt the ball over the fence and as far back in the stands as possible.  There ‘s no need for strategy (apart from figuring out the pitch and timing your swing) “ just bash away and try to crank the ball out. 

Baseball Slugger on iPhone

It offers four good modes of play:

Training: All the BP you could want or need.  You can decide on how fast the pitches are thrown to you, and how many types of pitch you face (from just a fastball, through to facing curves, screwballs, sinkers, sliders, changeups, and so on).

Classic: Just fire away and see how many home runs you can hit before making 10 outs, and anything that doesn ‘t clear the fence is an out.  Foul balls are also outs.  In this  mode only your home runs are tracked, and your only score is the total of home runs hit.

Arcade: Similar to Classic Mode, but with more ways to stay alive for longer, before your 10 outs mean a game is over, and with various ways to earn points and bonus points.  For instance, a hit (one that does not clear the fence) does not count as an out (duh) and earns you points as well.  Bonus points are tacked on for things like hitting foul poles or crashing balls off the scoreboard.

HumeRunPoints

Matchup:  Head-to-head, mano-a-mano stuff.  You can add your friends (or just folks you come across on Twitter who are fans of the game) as rivals to have matchups against, or just take on all comers via challenges you ‘ll be issued virtually as soon as you enter this mode.  I haven ‘t used this mode that often as yet, since I ‘m just not good enough (yet!) to do any real damage in it. 🙂

Matchup

All the modes except Training also offer bonuses and extras when you hit a home run on one of the gold balls that appear periodically (in Arcade mode) or on the last ball (in Classic mode).  Arcade mode features some other double-up and triple-up points opportunities with other special balls as well.  Earning gold balls and passing certain achievement milestones also allows you to purchase more equipment “ everything from sunglasses and jerseys to bigger, better, and in some cases wilder, bats.

Baseaball Slugger: Home Run Race 3D

What Does It Do Well?

For me, one of this game ‘s greatest strengths is that it captures and celebrates the pure drama of a home run, and of the Home Run Derby.  The sound effects help a lot here “ from the wonderful crack of the ball off the bat, to the way the roaring of the crowd increases and hits a crescendo when you get on a roll and hit quite a few out in a row. 

The graphics are a huge part of capturing the drama as well of course “ and they are excellent.  I love when you really time a swing perfectly and it shows you a sort of rapid-fire 3 replays of the moment of impact between bat and ball.

Boom

And when you get the full sight and sound effect of a ball dinging off a foul pole or crashing into the scoreboard

HomeRun

Gameplay is also superb “ as there are no complicated or difficult controls.  You just use the accelerometer (tilt the iPhone) to control the swing of the bat, and tap anywhere on the screen to swing.  In fact, I rarely even worry about tilting much (I need to work on this to get better), and just try to time the swing well.

This is definitely a game where you ‘re up and playing it within very few minutes “ and enjoying it just as quickly. 

What ‘s Not So Good?

Nothing so far, after a lot of time (a whole lot of time) spent playing it. 

This game does not offer you baseball strategy, or an ability to control pitchers, fielders, or steal bases and other things that are offered within some more complete baseball games on PC and other gaming platforms (and possibly some iPhone ones “ I haven ‘t fully explored the genre).  So if you ‘re after more than ‘just ‘ a home run hitting contest, then this one ‘s not for you.

Overall

Baseball Slugger is a great game.  Even if you ‘re a pretty casual baseball fan, it ‘s so easy to play and so full of drama that you may well get gripped by it.  If you are a baseball fan, and the type who enjoys the drama of the home run and those who specialize in hitting them, then forget it, you ‘ll be spending a lot of quality time with this one!

It ‘ll have you hooked quickly too “ I find myself checking email and then fitting in a few turns on Baseball Slugger, checking RSS feeds and hitting a few out of the park, looking at Twitter then having a quick bash at the game, sitting down to take some notes and thinking ‘just a quick go at Baseball Slugger first ‘, and so on.  Lately, if I pick up the iPhone, there ‘s going to be some slugging done for sure, no matter what else is going on.

Just like the Home Run Derby at the All Star break, Baseball Slugger is simple to get into and hugely compelling once you do.

Baseball Slugger is in the App Store, and is currently priced at just $2.99 “ which is listed as a special introductory offer of 40% off.

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