Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 Review: "A sports game unlike anything seen on the western market"

  • Posted April 20th, 2013 at 16:16 EDT by Dane Smith

Review Score

Professional Baseball Spirits 2013

PSU Review Score
9.5
Avg. user review score:
0.0

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Summary

One of the best sports games on the market, hitting a grand slam in every category. Five fun game modes in one game means baseball fans will have their life signed over to Konami for improving on an already polished title without it being a complete re-hash.

We like

  • Insane depth
  • Multiple, diverse game modes
  • Great for learning Japanese

We dislike

  • Import only
  • No chance of localization
  • Bad AI fielding dynamics

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, 3-2 count, and the batter steps back into the box. The pitcher stares the batter down but he reciprocates the pleasantry as they try and gain a mental edge. Here comes the windup, the pitch, and the swing. Any baseball fan has heard this a million times as it is the most romanticized situation in all of sports. Welcome to Professional Baseball Spirits 2013, the newest installment in Konami`s baseball series, trying to make you fall in love with Japanese baseball like a Joe Carter World Series home run.

This game is hardly known in the west by the simple fact it was never released outside of its home territory. This is a Japanese language only game. But that does not mean the game is unplayable. Thanks to the efforts at www.spiritstranslation.com, the essential information for playing the game is at your finger tips, with anything else being trial and error.

PBS is a sports game unlike anything seen on the western market as it showcases the talents of the Nippon Professional Baseball league with five separate game modes: Grand Prix, Manager, Star Player, Pennant Race, and Spirits. Every mode except for Spirits mode has similarities with a western counterpart, which makes trying to tackle all the menus and gameplay a lot easier for those who do not read Japanese.

Grand Prix mode gives you a set of player cards to make a starting team. After winning tournaments and trial matches players can be bought in packs or traded with the computer to help make your team better. Tournaments can replayed infinitely, and there are so many differing tournaments with differing rules that it keeps the grinding fresh. One tournament might force you to only field a team of Pacific League players, while another requires all your players to be under a 50 rating. Games also give players experience points, giving lower rated players a purpose rather than being instant fodder, and making people pause to consider keeping their almost-ready-to-level up scrub instead of benching him for the better rated guy just pulled from a pack. The lack of contracts also allows gamers to build the team they want without needing to constantly grind simply to re-contract their players, creating a vicious cycle as seen in EA`s Ultimate Team mode.

Manager mode is brand new to the series this year and will appeal to those who enjoy Football Manager and pure sim games. You are only the manager, having to monitor a budget, recruit assistants to do your bidding, hire coaches, train the players, literally all of the entire management side except for playing the actual baseball game. This part of the game requires the most trial and error as it is text heavy and elements are completely random, making the unwary scratch their heads at what to do early on. But that randomness allows for lots of replayability, ensuring two run-throughs are never the same.

Star Player mode is Road to the Show. RttS vets will think it feels like a silk glove as it plays exactly the same. The difference between the two series is how the experience points are used. Every at-bat increases or decreases the number of experience points earned and at the end of the match they are divided by 4, which is the number of different stat categories. Pitchers will have a field day with this mode as eight pitches can be learned, making Rocket Roger look like a minor leaguer with the number of strike outs you can be raking in. It also gives you the option of playing as a pro player for those who enjoy stepping into the shoes of their favourite player.

Pennant mode is exactly like franchise mode but it allows you to customize the rosters before the first pitch of the season. Want an all-star team? Just trade everyone you want to your team. Want to see if you can win with an all-rookie squad? Trade away all your certified all-stars. It also allows you to play each individual game as either the manager, a specific player, or the entire team, thus letting you fully enjoy how you want to play the game.

Spirits mode, the only different mode from a western counterpart, is a create-a-player ... (continued on next page) ----

Dane Smith is PSU's Reviews Editor, a licensed teacher from St. Thomas University, and has a healthy addiction to Monster energy drinks. Want to hear his thoughtful musings? Follow him on twitter or check out his his article catalog.
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