IGN Review of Baseball Blast
When people think of 2K Sports and baseball they likely think of either their MLB 2K series which tries to simulate every aspect of the sport or The Bigs which is a more arcade affair. But a little game called Baseball Blast! snuck onto the Wii not long ago and brings an entirely different take on the standard baseball formula. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is exactly what I'm here to discuss.
Baseball Blast! takes the unconventional approach of delivering a swarm of mini-games for its twenty-dollar asking price. There are just over 20 in the game and each brings a baseball-themed, (sort of) waggle-centric activity to the table. Some task you with flying a baseball-turned-spaceship around outer space, others pit four baseball players in a fight to catch the most fly balls. The structure of playing these games, at least in single-player ("season") mode, is split up into the six divisions of baseball – each with three mini-games. If you're in the AL Central you'll be competing against the Tigers and Twins, if you're in the NL East you'll take on the Phillies and the Braves.
Playing Baseball Blast! solo clearly wasn't the intention of the game designers and I'd advise against spending too much time by yourself as the experience really isn't that enjoyable. The mini-games are all disjointed with the only real challenge being unlocking the third mini-game in every division. Once you've beaten all 18 you unlock trivia and poster puzzle mode, but neither does a good job of making the solitary gameplay more fun. To make matters worse, only a handful of the mini-games are actually decent when playing by your lonesome. Some feel entirely too random rather than skill-based and others can be frustratingly inaccurate in their control mechanics.
Where the game begins to shine, if only for a bit, is in its multiplayer capabilities. It's a definite bummer that there's no online multiplayer available, but Baseball Blast! does a good job of servicing a party environment so long as the users are in a young demographic and have relatively short attention spans.
The multiplayer in Blast! has a much different structure than the regular plethora of mini-games. You basically select the length of the game you want to play (which correlates to the difficulty) and then players rotate turns at the plate to try and earn runs. Innings are broken up by the mini-games from the single-player mode and that's where you'll earn power-up cards that give your players different abilities or hurt the abilities of the other squad.
The card element is a good way to break up the slightly monotonous mini-games and while I would have liked slightly deeper baseball gameplay (manual fielding or pitching would have been a plus), the fact that they deviate from the boring solo play is welcome. Even still, the multiplayer does get old after a relatively short time.
Visually Baseball Blast! is a disappointing package. The few pro player models that you'll see from each team don't look anything like their real world counterparts beyond the obligatory skin color. Models in the crowd (that you'll see during a few mini-games) don't fare much better. There are apparently no women baseball fans in the world and every male model is identical less their facial hair and skin color. Everything is obviously intended to be cartoony in nature and that's fine, but the effects are boring and the color palette isn't as outlandish as it could have been.
Having Bob Uecker on-hand for commentary is a treat, even if he is sober. His commentary might not be very interesting but it did allow me to picture the days of him in the Major League movies. That has to count for something. The soundtrack is depressingly redundant and cheesy and the sound effects are ho-hum at best.
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