Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 Review: "A sports game unlike anything seen on the western market"
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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.
- Insane depth
- Multiple, diverse game modes
- Great for learning Japanese
- Import only
- No chance of localization
- Bad AI fielding dynamics
(continued from previous page) ...is a create-a-player mini-game for making players for franchise mode. In PBS you don`t get to make maxed out players like in EA games; instead you have to complete goals within a set amount of turns. This is a one-shot deal meaning if you have bad luck then the character will have few points to be made with, but conversely if you are really lucky and skilled you can make the next Sadaharu Oh. No two characters will ever be the same and you might have to spend hours to get the character you want.
The gameplay of PBS is a different breed than The Show, either making it a fun change or frustrating to get the hang of. Pitching is handled with a one-shot closing circle system, meaning the moment you press the button when the circle closes shows how much of the ball is there for the batter to hit. Get trigger happy or forget to press the button and you'll get jacked, but keep your nerve and it'll be the size of a BB, making for lots of strike outs and pop flies. A pitch's control stat determines how fast the circle closes, forcing players to get used to various rhythms at a time if multiple pitches have differing stats. Conversely, when batting, the stats determine how big of a sweet spot is on the bat displayed for the gamer to hit the ball with, and also differentiates between how good you are at contact and power hitting. If you are an Ichiro batter then expect a large contact sweet spot to hit the ball, but such a tiny power sweet spot that it'd be riskier than stealing second base with Prince Fielder.
One problem that was always annoying, and still has not been fixed, is the lack of defensive plays. Defence is more important than anything, and if your players have low position ratings it means slow grounders or pop flies will become singles due to the lack of diving plays or jumping catches. Seeing the third baseman even attempt to make a diving stab at a slow roller is rarer than Bo Jackson not breaking a bat over his knee. At least the game is fair and makes computer controlled teams just as incompetent at basic fielding as your team.
One concern that I had with the game before actually going to a Japanese baseball match was if the in-game presentation was real. Watching MLB on TV and playing The Show, the crowds are very boring and lethargic outside of a playoff game, and it shows in The Show. Crowds in PBS are always cheering, singing team songs, and have drums and other instruments making music in the background, giving it a festive, lively atmosphere. After seeing my first baseball game in Japan, I am happy to say that the in-game presentation is authentic. Blow out or nail biter, the crowds actually matter and have a point, keeping the player on the edge and into the game. The commentators are also well done but, like all sports games, are crippled by dialogue recycling. To make up for it at least the commentators have some form of emotion when a home run is hit or a game is won in extra innings, instead of the ho-hum attitude from other sports games.
Graphically the game has been polished from previous years. The animations look crisper, more detail has been etched into the players like being able to see their veins bulging from their biceps, and the crowd doesn't look as generic as in games past. It doesn't have the system-pushing graphics of a Mass Effect title, but it gets enough of the job done that it doesn't negatively impact the game.
This game has one glaring problem and that is it is only in Japanese. There is some English around the menus, but 98% of the game is written in Japanese making it very intimidating for anyone to try and play. How badly you need to be able to read everything will dictate your interest level for this game. Additionally, since this game is only released in Asian countries, it is expensive to import because of its rarity. On the flip side for anyone learning Japanese that is a gamer of any kind, as ... (continued on next page)