Ah, baseball, the great American pastime. Everyone knows it. Many love it, especially when the players are overly exaggerated muscle-bound powerhouses that will get angry at the drop of a hat. That is entertainment, and that is exactly what you will get when you play Baseball Stars 2 for the NeoGeo Station on the PSN.
You choose from 18 different teams to play as through a 15 game season. The teams range from the power hitters of the New York Monsters to the quick running players of the Tokyo Ninjas. There are two leagues to play: one an easy difficulty and one a harder difficulty. The game plays out in your average baseball-style 9 innings and more if the score is tied. There is also an exhibition mode for those just wanting a quick baseball fix.
You play both sides of the field during the games. When batting, you can swing, bunt, and move your player back and forth in the batter’s box. Positioning yourself and swinging at the right time is key to hitting the homeruns. When pitching, you can move the pitcher left or right and you can control the ball as it moves towards the plate. Needless to say this game is VERY “arcadey,” which makes it so much fun. During the game, you can call a time out and substitute a new pitcher from a limited list of players on the roster. The same goes for batting and bringing in a pinch hitter. Doing this will end up giving your pitching and batting an advantage. There is also the option of “Powering Up” your current batter. When you do this, you turn an average looking player into a steroid juiced madman. When his bat connects with the baseball, it will send it flying into the stands.
The opponent AI can be a bit brutal at times. It seems like no matter how hard I try, I can hardly ever strike out a batter. The controls are so well done that I have no problem throwing them out at bases, but you will come against some teams that you just can’t win from losing.
The game has a ton of charm. The animations, over exaggerated characters, and bright colors just give off a nostalgic feel, and it always puts a smile on my face. Small things like how a batter will always break a bat over his knee when he strikes out or how a runner is called out and begins arguing with the umpire just make it feel fun. It’s almost like you’re watching a cartoon based on baseball.
The controls are very simple, and very responsive, but even if you don’t understand the controls, the NeoGeo Station offers up a full digital manual to help you out. The NeoGeo Station allows for online play as well as saving during a game and saving replays. It really is a great package for all that you get.
The online play is very smooth with no lag at all. Sometimes, the game will just seem to go on forever. I was playing against someone online and we went up to the 12th inning. By that time, we had already been playing for almost an hour. It can get tiresome when you have two players that are always neck and neck.
The game may not be a very deep baseball game, but that’s not what it was going for. It set out to be a very fun, arcade baseball game and that is exactly what it did. It amazes me that this game was made in 1992 and still holds up so well to this day. With online play and replays available, there is no reason not to pick this up if you enjoy baseball and a little bit of craziness. Honestly, the game is just pure fun, all for the low price of $8.99. For a game that’s almost 20 years old, it is very impressive.
Review copy provided by publisher.