For the Love of the Game Review

Time for some Baseball action. This film also throws some romance into the mix but it’s probably the weakest part here. Ultimately this is a classic story of having to choose between your love for someone else and your love of the game. There’s a lot of drama over here and what is going on ends up being bigger than any single game.

The movie starts with Billy getting ready to pitch his final game. He’s gotten quite a bit older and can’t really throw the way that he used too. He’s just too old and he knows it, but he doesn’t want to leave the game either. He’s had a great career so his coach Frank is reluctant to pull him out but at the same time he does want to win. Billy can continue his career if he really wants to do so, but it will be on a different team. He reflects on his life as the game goes on and how it all led to this.

A big part of that is in his romance with Jane. So this one falls flat for a few reasons. One of which is that they hook up almost immediately without really knowing each other so both come off as really desperate. Jane tries to say later on that she isn’t usually that kind of person but it’s a bit late for that and then Billy certainly proves that he is that kind of person when he cheats on her later on. They just never really ended up connecting in the long run and so the romance wasn’t one that you could really root for.

Put it this way, if Billy was able to cheat on Jane after a single disagreement then he was never too serious about her in the first place. You just don’t cheat on someone like that, especially so quickly. It was really a terrible look for him. Jane really shouldn’t have even attempted to bridge the gap here after that. From the start another red flag was that their relationship was going to be a long distance one where they aren’t supposed to call each other or even think about each other. They were supposed to live their lives and just hang out when they’re in the same town. That doesn’t sound like a winning way to go through life now does it?

The Baseball scenes are fun though even if they never feel like the main part of the story. The final game in the present is certainly dramatic since Billy wants to go out on a high note. No better way than to try and pitch a shutout right? That’s extremely rare in any game and almost never happens. Billy also has a good team by his side. There’s the up and coming outfielder who initially has a hard time not messing up on the field but learns to tune out the media and just play ball.

There’s also the catcher Gus who was with Billy every step of the way. Billy would also fight to keep Gus on the team when the coach wanted to put someone else in. They made for a good duo and clearly had a great career even if the time was almost up there. So the movie’s got a lot of emotional stories going on and especially plots about how age always catches up to you. Sure enough, it’s not something that you can escape forever. Ultimately it will always return to make you retire at some point.

Jane’s daughter Heather also gets to appear for a bit. She’s used in a way to try and patch things up with Billy and Jane. Heather’s nice enough even if she starts out as a bit of a rebel. She can give Billy a hard time at first but warms up to him later on. Her role isn’t super large but she does appear near the end of the film in the current timeline and she’s now more of an outgoing person. Perhaps Billy had a positive effect on her there.

I would have liked to have seen some more Baseball action though. That’s really what I’m here for and I felt like it didn’t really get a big role. More Baseball games would have been nice, maybe take us through the whole season as Billy’s play began to deteriorate more and more. Particularly given the title of the film focusing on that would be best and by constantly seeing Baseball games in the flashback, it would also be a meta way to show the audience that it was still the first thing that he thinks about every day. It could further show Jane that she ultimately made the right choice in deciding to head out.

The writing’s decent enough here. You’ll be invested as the film goes on and the pacing is good too. It doesn’t drag out or anything like that either. I wasn’t a fan of the two main leads here but I did like the friend and the coach. Ultimately the coach especially has a tough job here since he needs to keep the locker room happy while also making the tough business decisions so that the team can keep on winning. The whole thing is impossible to keep impersonal here since everyone has known each other for so long. Still, he does a good job of it and is also careful to make sure Billy isn’t overdoing it.

Overall, The film’s main weakness is that the romance doesn’t really work. Both characters made massive mistakes with how the relationship was started in the beginning and then Billy ruined it beyond repair. The Baseball scenes were always great but they were just so few and far between. I really think we should have gotten more cool Baseball moments and that also could have let us meet more of the team. When you think about it, we didn’t actually know too many of the players.

Overall 5/10

Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade Review

All right, we have another cancelled Jump title so lets jump right into it. You can make the case that there has not been a truly definitive Baseball title yet. Tennis has Prince of Tennis, Football has Eyeshield 21, Soccer has Whistle, Basketball has two separate options in Slam Dunk or Kuroko’s Basketball, (Either will suffice) Volleyball has Haikyu, etc. For Baseball the top one would likely be Cross Game which was good to be sure but you can picture Baseball going even higher up. This one had a lot of potential and unfortunately it just didn’t last long enough. From the cancelled Jump titles I’ve read so far this would have to be one of the best so it’s a shame that it ended.

The series follows a kid named Azu who has always wanted to make it on the Baseball team. Unfortunately though he is rather scrawny and doesn’t really have the physique needed for the game. He trains his whole life and even leads his team to victory during tryouts but the coach explains that his team needs power and skill, not brains. It would appear that all is lost but that’s when Ryudo appears and asks Azu if he wants to be on a team with him. A girl named Karin shows up and says her school is even coming up with a team known as the 9 Dragons and they can use that to be the greatest in the world. Azu is reluctant but this may be the only way to achieve his dream. Can he dare hope for success?

Of course they’re going to need some more players since any Baseball team needs 9 players. Pretty much the whole series is spent on gathering these players. That seems to be part of why it was cancelled since it was moving slowly but it’s a shame since I actually liked the approach. I’ll go into my steps on how this series could have avoided being cancelled but I’m not really going to oppose the structure because I understand why you would want to have a slow burner approach.

There are two ways to doing this, 1 is to have the whole team already assembled and we learn about them as the series goes on and the other is to slowly build each one from the ground up. Ironically all of the big sport titles use option 1 while mostly it’s the action titles like Samurai 8 and One Piece that use the later option. Perhaps people feel like it doesn’t work for sports but the author was really putting a lot of care into each one of these characters until the end where you could see him starting to rush.

As far as Azu goes, I have to say that I was not a fan. My main gripe with him is how he’s reluctant to join the team with Karin and Ryudo. Why? His whole goal in life was to be on a Baseball team so it’s quite annoying to see him suddenly be hesitant and think that it’s not worth it. Who cares if they aren’t the best, at least it is a team right? Azu spends a lot of time grumbling in the opening chapters before actually getting on board. By that time he’s better but I just really didn’t like that as an intro for him.

I’ll give him props for working out and training nonstop to be Baseball ready at least. Even with that he can’t keep up with the others but dedication is certainly important. Then you have Ryudo and it’s no surprise that he’s more up my alley. Ryudo is an ace pitcher who is supremely confident and doesn’t let the odds get to him. When he has a goal he just completes it and always goes with the flow. He was all for starting this team right away and never looked back.

While Azu is the main character, you can also see Ryudo getting all of the screen time if the series had continued. At least it would be more like a Toriko dynamic going on here. Ryudo stays strong for the entire run and continues to grow even stronger. This is not a guy that you want to underestimate at any cost.

Then you have Karin who is effectively the coach of the team. It’s nice to see that she is also very dedicated to getting this team formed and all set up. She has more gusto than Azu and while she doesn’t play Baseball, she does try to learn so she can support the team a little better. Her backstory involving why she wants to form this team is emotional and all in all she’s just an inspiring character. I think she’ll do well as the coach.

The first member we meet is a guy named Tsurugi. He’s going to be the batter of the team but he retired to help his father mind the shop. Fortunately his skills have not deteriorated over time. He has a good rivalry going with Ryudo and is a really important member of the team. After all, you absolutely need to score Home Runs at the end of the day in order to win. The Runs won’t come by themselves.

Aside from Ryudo he’s my favorite member of the team. He balances well with the rest of the team. Then next you have Tsubaki who plays shortstop. This guy is supremely confident in his abilities and the only reason he isn’t already signed on to one of the established team is his attitude. The guy really ends up disagreeing with the refs and coaches to the point where he’s always being taken out of the ball game. The problem is that Tsubaki believes he is absolutely the best player ever and is always telling the others to worship him.

It’s an interesting enough gimmick but ultimately I wouldn’t say he’s as likable as the others. I do like confidence but when it’s overblown like this I feel like it loses a bit of its steam. He’ll certainly be a great asset to the Nine Dragons though since you know that the main characters will be able to handle him. Nobody’s going to stop their climb to the top.

Next up is Kido and he’s the final member to get his own story and full character arc. This guy’s a solid all around player who has never really stood out because he always played alongside a true all star. As a result every team passed him up and even Kido doesn’t think he’s all that good. Fortunately the heroes grab him and convince the guy to give their team a shot. I could see this guy being difficult to give a solid role in the future but all around characters definitely have their perks.

There isn’t a whole lot to Kido beyond just being a nice guy but sometimes that’s really the only trait that you need right? So at this point we’re around halfway through the series or maybe over it so I guess someone told the author to speed things along. Right now we’re at 5 members and we still need 4 more. Well, two guys show up out of nowhere and ask to be on the team. You’ve got Taiga who is the self proclaimed rival of Tsurugi. The guy doesn’t remember Taiga but that’s fine. Taiga seems confident but doesn’t really get a chance to do anything in the series.

Accompanying Taiga is a kid named Horaguchi who is the small & nimble member of the group. He is scared of everyone and everything though. He only trusts Taiga and otherwise he really just keeps to himself. I can see this guy getting annoying pretty fast but he also doesn’t have a chance to do much of anything. The final two spots are filled out by characters off screen who don’t get any real dialogue. Something tells me if the series ever returns with a sequel or something that they’ll be cut. Even their designs don’t feel like real designs and just background characters.

The series is able to introduce two villains before it ended. First up is Shiro who is the son of the principal from the top ranked school. The entire dynamic is ripped straight from Assassination Classroom. It’s a good dynamic though so I’m all for it. Shiro doesn’t get to do a whole lot yet but he has a brief scrimmage against Tsurugi and absolutely dominates the guy. It was a humbling moment for the team since they had seemed to be all but unbeatable prior to that. It just goes to show that there is always someone better. I think Shiro would definitely have ended up being one of the best characters in the series.

Finally you have Hibuse who calls himself the Star of the universe. So he’s another confident character but one who can back it up. Not only is he the star player on every sports team that he has ever been on but he wins the Baseball games almost single handily. If you know anything about Baseball you know that it’s a team sport so it’s hard to win on your own. The game is built in a way where that should pretty much be impossible and yet he pulls it off.

At first it may be easy to write him off as just another villain but what sealed the deal for me was when we learned that he was also the top strategist on the team. The guy acts all cocky to get his opponents to lower their guard and then he slams them. It was a really impressive performance and I actually ended up picking him as my favorite character in the series. He just dominates whenever he is on screen and I’d look forward to seeing him again in a rematch if the series were to continue.

So that’s the character roster for Nine Dragons. It’s a pretty solid cast and one benefit of the slow boil approach is that most of them already had well defined character personalities and a good amount of screen time. We also did get some Baseball action during the recruitment whether it was a 1 on 1 scrimmage or a full game.

The art is pretty solid and so you’re able to get drawn into the actual Baseball games right away. There are a lot of good speed lines and the author did his best to really give this the same intensity as something like Prince of Tennis. It nails down the concept of a Baseball game which is really good. If there weren’t so many breaks I’d be a much bigger fan of the sport myself and of course for a manga that would definitely not be an issue as we see here. The main pitch is even drawn like a Special Beam Cannon.

We do get a rather random time skip for those final two characters I mentioned but as I can see why it happened to move things along. I wouldn’t advise the series do this too often while it’s early on in the series though since you’ll miss a lot of big character moments. If there was pressure to do it though then that’s fine. As it is, it’s not like any of the characters changed in this instance. Perhaps it was purely because there was no tournament for a while and they didn’t want to waste time on a training arc. (That would definitely not have gone over well this early in the series)

The Baseball games are interesting and of course I’ve always enjoyed sport manga titles so I’m not really surprised. The writing is on point and this is really a title that had a lot of potential. Honestly this may be the one that I’m saddest to see get cancelled. It’s close with this and Candy Flurry since of course I love action as well but this would have really had a ton of potential if it could have been a full ongoing. All of the proper fundamentals were there.

So, how would I have kept this one from being cancelled? Well, this one is trickier than the rest. I think I would change the character perspective from Azu to Ryudo. Keep Azu as the main character of the first chapter similar to Manta in Shaman King but then have Ryudo take over when he shows up. He’s a much more dynamic main character and personally I prefer that character type over the analytical ones. Azu does well with his studying but as a lead he just isn’t as charismatic.

I also think there will be less ways to show off the planning and such as the game goes on while with the pitcher there is a whole lot you can do. Especially with the art direction here, making the pitches look more and more intense won’t be too hard. So definitely make him the lead and we’re in business. Again, you could change the slow burner approach to just having all of the characters there from the start and maybe introducing them via flashbacks but I wasn’t opposed to this tactic.

The other option is you could add some more stakes. Not sure you really need this in a sports title but maybe Ryudo’s parents were kidnapped and he has to win Koshien within 3 years or it’s game over for them. It may feel kind of forced but that would add immediate tension into the mix. It may be hard to do that without changing Ryudo’s character though since he probably wouldn’t be nearly as laidback anymore.

Ah well, ultimately the series just didn’t work out which is too bad. It really had quite a bit of potential. They can’t all be winner but at least this is a title that I’ll definitely remember. Who knows, maybe somehow it will return someday. Personally it’s hard to picture any of these coming back when they get cancelled so soon but you never know I suppose. In the meantime we’ll see if another Baseball title comes into play at some point or if that’s it for them for a long while.

Overall, If you like Baseball then you will definitely like this series. It’s a very basic, down to Earth story about a group of teens putting together a team to be the very best. There isn’t a whole lot of time for much else though so if you’re looking for a full season’s journey then this won’t be for you. Due to how quickly it got cancelled, the series also ends on a pretty direct cliffhanger so you will have to use your imagination to decide how it ends. Suffice to say, I have to put Shiro as the world champion for this year because it’s hard to see him being stopped.

Overall 7/10

The Natural Review

It’s been a little while since I saw a film about Baseball. The last one was probably the Field of Dreams and that didn’t actually have a lot of Baseball action in it. This one changes all of that and it makes for a pretty fun adventure. It’s a well written movie that is long enough to really go into depth on the various events occurring. It’s almost surprising that it’s so long because at first the movie moves very quickly but a Baseball season is quite long and the film shows that.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Roy who is a Baseball prodigy. He has been interested in the game ever since he was a kid. One day he even strikes out a fairly well known pro batter. It looks like the sky’s the limit but unfortunately the fame goes to his head. He immediately cheats on his girlfriend and promptly gets shot by the temptress mafia style. This takes almost 20 years to heal. Can Roy make a comeback and still live out his Baseball dreams or is it all over for him?

Most of this review will be for talking about all the solid points of the movie because there are many. I really only had one issue with the film and that’s the main character. I never found Roy to be all that likable and I didn’t even feel like the film was trying to redeem him much until near the very end of the film either. Women are clearly his vice right from the start of the film but he just never learns his lesson.

Take the initial instance of cheating for example. He gets shot immediately afterwards because of that so you kind of figure that he won’t make the same mistake again right? Well, one of the villains hires a girl to mess with him and this works incredibly well. If not for having to do some rather obvious actions like giving him poison candy, the girl would have definitely kept Roy under wraps the whole time.

It feels more like Roy was forced to get past this since she couldn’t follow him on some of the away games as opposed to actually realizing he was messing up his life. By the time he confides to the original girl, it all just feels a little too late. This guy just wasn’t serious enough about Baseball or about his own convictions. He likes to think of himself as an honorable guy but we learned that this wasn’t the case early on. Roy’s even lucky to get away with arguing with the coach.

He defied the coach’s orders in front of the whole team and then refused to go back down to the B league. Good thing Roy was a solid player because he would have been doomed otherwise. I do question how the coach had never seen him batting before though. Perhaps it’s normal that a coach would skip the practices? I’m certainly less familiar with Baseball compared to Football, Tennis, or even Basketball and Soccer. Still, I’d expect the coach should have at least been told that Roy has been playing amazing since the start especially since the team was winless and badly needed any kind of spark.

Pop was a great supporting character though. I always like a coach who really gets heated along with the players and storms the dugout. He’s a very old school kind of coach who gets the job done and pushes his players to the limits. He’s also in a pretty tough position with how he may lose the team to the villainous Judge.

Judge is a very memorable villain here because of how over the top he is. The guy bribes everyone, is super rich, and even has a villainous looking room since he keeps the lights off. The guy has a flair for the dramatic and it has served him well over the years. His inclusion helped to raise the stakes in the film so it was definitely a good idea having him around.

Then you have another one of the villainesses in Memo. Not to be confused with the first lady who tricked Roy, this one was a little more subtle and doesn’t take the gun out until the end. She’s a decent villain I suppose but in most of her scenes you’re just shaking your head at Roy. He’s finally close to achieving his dream and is quick to just toss it all away just like that. Watch closely during the montage of him losing every game. He isn’t nearly as broken up about it as you would expect.

Finally you have Iris who was the girl from the opening scene. She ends up appearing in the second half of the film. If I were her I probably wouldn’t give Roy a second chance in the arena though. As a friend, maybe, but that would be it. She’s a reasonable character though and has done well for herself in the meantime. Not only did she manage to keep the farm but she’s able to support her kid as well and has a pretty decent home. Iris is definitely a go getter who put a lot of work in.

The Natural is a fairly serious film but one that is able to squeeze in a good amount of humor as well. The jokes tend to land well and the writing is solid so throughout the movie you are interested in what is going on. The cast is also rather big when you consider the other players running around. Most of them don’t get a big role but some do get a little important by the end. Then Judge has a few minions as well. The movie may be well over 2 hours but it doesn’t drag on which is really the important thing.

The Baseball scenes are also handled well. They’re always exciting and actually make Baseball look fun to watch. After all, you don’t have to worry about commercials or the waiting in between pitches. In the movies you just go right to the action and it works quite well. The scene where a Baseball is cut in two after a solid hit was certainly memorable as well. The effects for that were on point without a doubt. We even got a little thunder and lightning for when Roy first went up to bat in the big game.

Overall, The Natural is a solid film. It really doesn’t have any big issues and you’ll have a good time watching it from cover to cover. Really, if the film just made Roy more of a likable character then the film would be even better. After all, he has a lot of good moments like when he outwitted the psychic using his two gold coins and the banter he has with the villains. A lot of the best scenes involve Roy so he had a lot of the traits you’d want to see in a lead. Either way if you like Baseball then you should definitely check this film out.

Overall 7/10

Field of Dreams Review

Time for a Baseball experience. There is a little less actual Baseball playing than you would expect though as it’s more focused on the drama. It’s a fun enough film to be sure and we have an emotional character arc for the lead. That said, I do think it would have amplified the experience if we had gotten an opposing team to fight or something though. Think Space Jam but the supernatural version.

So the movie starts with Ray feeling a little down because he just isn’t really sure what he has done with his life. His biggest fear is not getting to do anything super important or memorable before he dies. He has some issues with his father due to this when he was a kid because he thought that it had happened to him. One day, Ray hears a message saying to build it and he will come. His wife Annie pokes fun at the fact that the voice did not add any real details to that message so it’s hard to say what the mission even is.

Fortunately Ray continues to get more messages and visions. It turns out that he needs to build a Baseball stadium. That way Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the team members who threw the World Series would finally be able to play again since they were banned for life and died a while back. Ray believes Joe didn’t actually participate in throwing the series despite taking the money since the guy played effectively a flawless game. I suppose it’s one of those things they’ll never know for sure but either way that was a long time ago and the whole team just wants to play ball.

Still, the visions haven’t ended. There is still more that Ray evidently needs to do. The only question is…what? This journey will take Ray many places such as visiting the jaded writer known as Terrence and even talking to a baseball player who became a doctor. That’s not even the biggest challenges he will face though. As Ray is traveling around the world and having a good ole time, his wife Annie is having to deal with the fact that their finances are running dry. The Baseball arena is certainly eating up a large chunk of income after all and the creditors are here to take the main characters down for good.

Field of Dreams is certainly a calming film as it’s really about Ray finally getting to make a difference in the world. He has a good time visiting the various players and trying to figure out what the messages are all about. It’s also good that things did work out because otherwise the characters were starting to get into a sticky situation. For example, even right up to the end of the film he didn’t really have any concrete plans on how to earn money. If not for his daughter stepping in, they were all about to get wrecked by the creditors.

Ray’s determined which is good but I would have liked him more if he had a concrete plan to deal with things. Meanwhile Annie was the one really holding down the fort the whole time. Without her stepping in and resisting the sell offers Ray would have been coming home to a rather empty place. It was also nice to see Annie taking up a position at the town hall meeting and going back and forth with the main speaker there. She was a protester along with Ray in the quick flashbacks we saw after all so this isn’t her first rodeo.

We don’t see a lot of the past but there’s just enough to introduce us to Ray since his feud with his father is a bit of a main plot point. From what we saw the issue was really entirely with Ray as he entered a rebellious phase due to the books he was reading by Terrence. It was a bad look for him to be sure but at least he got better as he grew up. It’s hard to hold his actions from many years prior to the film against him in the present but perhaps that’s part of why he never got all that good. He was even short with his daughter when she was trying to let him know that the first of the ghosts had shown up.

Then we have Mark who is one of the main villains here. While he acts concerned for Ray and Annie it doesn’t change the fact that he showed up to try and get rid of their home. No matter how you slice it he wasn’t exactly doing everything he could to help them out. From his perspective they did seem to be rather crazy of course but there are still better ways to handle that.

Finally you’ve got Terrence who makes for a fun character. His opening scenes of trying to terrorize Ray are quite intense. The guy clearly doesn’t want to be back in the spotlight after all and that’s fair. I think being famous can definitely take its toll on you if people are constantly asking you for autographs and such. Terrence has a good role here though and ends up having a fun dynamic with Ray.

As for the Baseball players, while they were all fun enough, you wish they would have done something to help Ray out. It’s an issue I sometimes have with these supernatural guys. All they want is to have a good time which is fair but they absolutely have to notice the struggled the main characters are having right? Can’t they at least offer up some advice or help out? By the end they start mind controlling the nearby townsfolk and even people across the country to give Ray money but for a while they were just ignoring his plight. Things could have easily gone sideways.

The best player was definitely the doctor. He was an emotional character and didn’t come in until near the end but I thought his plot was the most interesting. He’s effectively given the chance to change his past but decides that he’ll take the life he already has which I liked. The grass is always greener after all and he knows how many people he has helped as a doctor. If he had kept playing baseball then of course that would be different.

Overall, Field of Dreams is a pretty fun film. You do feel like the Baseball players could have helped out a little more though. They basically made Ray do everything and then looked the other way until the climax of the film. One way to give them more agency here would have definitely been to have introduced a team for them to fight. Maybe the winners get a lot of money or something. It would have the players have to face their temptations if the other team offers them money for throwing the game or something like that. The climax we do get is suitably emotional though and does tie in with the overall themes. It’s good that Ray effectively got to make up for some of the mistakes he made early on. If you want to watch a fun drama film then check this one out. As long as you know ahead of time that this isn’t really a sports film and is more about dealing with the past and following your dreams then you’re sure to enjoy it. Some parts are a bit cheesy like a certain antagonist losing the will to fight but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Overall 6/10

Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 Review

I’ve played quite a few Baseball games in my day but the Simulator title looked like it would bring a bit of a different experience. When these games show up for free through the Nintendo Switch Online service I know that I have to try them all. Well, this one certainly lived up to the hype as I expected it to. Baseball titles still really aren’t my thing as it almost feels too luck based with the gameplay. After all, after you hit the ball who knows where it will go? It’s different from Football or Basketball where you really know where it is going to go.

What makes this one a little more interesting is we do have some fun SNES music going on the whole time. It helps give the game a lot of extra energy. To date the best baseball game is Mario Sluggers for Gamecube. That one was fantastic. This one doesn’t get quite that detailed but you do feel like you have a chance when you’re swinging the bat around. I decided I would play this one until I at least managed to score.

In the first game I walked away with 0 runs which was rough. My batters just couldn’t manage to hit the ball and the other team was scoring every few seconds. Well, I eventually adapted and by the third game I hit a Home Run. In fact, I hit 2 more in that game but ultimately I still lost 11-3. Still, it felt like I had made some real progress so that was really cool.

My gameplay tip would definitely be to not try and go for bunts. 99% of the time it will fail and on the other 1% it’s not like you’re getting more than one base. It’s better to swing for the stars. The tough part is that the fast balls are almost impossible to react to. You just need to swing as soon as he pitches but if it’s a change up or a slow pitch then you’re not going to fare so well. It definitely makes for a tough dynamic but that’s how it’s got to be.

When it comes to fielding the ball, it can also be tough to catch without finding yourself in the wrong spot. It took me a bit of getting used to but with the way the other team kept on hitting the ball I certainly had enough opportunities to get good there. Pitching is pretty straight forward but it’s hard to make it so the CPU doesn’t just hit the ball out of there. They don’t bite on any ball that’s too far out and they would hit even if I used a curve ball or a fast one. Far as I’m concerned you need to get great at batting because otherwise you’re just going to get out scored.

The graphics look pretty good here. I wouldn’t say they are completely out of this world or anything crazy but the game looks good while you’re playing it. Between that and the smooth gameplay that’s why I would say this title was fairly decent. It’s the kind of game that is a lot more fun when playing with someone else as opposed to a computer. It’s tempting to boost the score up a bit more but I’d say in the middle is fair.

Overall, I wouldn’t say there is a ton of replay value here but there’s definitely enough content to keep you busy all the way through. If you like Baseball gameplay a lot then you’ll like this game. I’d even say the mechanics are better than some of the big budget ones. Considering that the game is free you definitely can’t go wrong.

Overall 5/10

Angels in the Outfield Review

It’s time to look at a Baseball film from a long time ago. This one’s definitely a pretty solid film. It’s always nice to have a sports flick and in this one we get some quality character development and good writing. It’s a very pleasant film throughout. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Baseball as I find the game to move a little too slowly. That said, in film format it tends to work out pretty well because you’re cutting right to the action every time.

The movie starts with the Guffy’s Pirates losing yet another game. They’ve now dropped 10 games in a row with no end in sight. They’re dead last in the conference. Guffy’s upset but he still wants to go and enjoy his dinner as usual. He beats people up and has caused such a ruckus that a reporter named Jennifer has written a story on him. Guffy then receives a message from an Angel who has been watching him. Guffy needs to clean up his act and in exchange the Angel will start delivering his team some free wins. Guffy agrees to do this but it’s going to be difficult to break his old habits so easily. Additionally there is a little girl named Bridget who seems to be able to see the Angels somehow. This has started to cause quite a stir.

Guffy’s your classic gruff main character who definitely seems to enjoy picking fights with just about everyone. He never backs down and whenever someone has a problem with him Guffy just goes and beats the guy up. Of course this is all catching up to him though. People used to like hanging out with him and now he has no friends. Guffy just didn’t care so this kept on happening. Now he has a reason to care and he’s started to be nicer, but people aren’t so quick to forgive. It’s pretty realistic. How likely are you to be friends with someone again after they’ve been badmouthing you for so long? it’s definitely not very likely if you think about it. Still, he does really try to change which is the important thing. He’s certainly a much better character by the end than when he started morally. Guffy makes for an entertaining character either way though.

As for Bridget, as far as kids go I wouldn’t say she was bad. I tend to still not be a big fan of them in films but she was helpful and never got in the way. She would see the Angels and called it like she saw it. Bridget was also pretty quick to defend Guffy which was nice. She never got tricked by the media or anything like that. Finally you have Jennifer who is a fun heroine even if she seems a bit oblivious at times. She just walked right into Guffy’s place and made herself right at home. I suppose as a reporter you’ve got to have that level of confidence though so she did good. At first I actually thought she was going to be the main character of the film. Her role is pretty sizable and she seems like a nice person. She was a great help to Guffy in getting his life back on track.

Meanwhile the Angels certainly helped quite a lot as well. Their assistance in winning all those ballgames was invaluable and the Angel certainly helped Guffy to understand that he needed to change things around as well. The movie did a good job with the writing and the humor here. There are a lot of clever little gags in the script and the jokes work quite well. If someone got the better of a character with a joke you could expect another character to fire back later on. There were a lot of callbacks and such. As I mentioned, the film is just a lot of fun the whole time. It has a nice sense of humor and tight pacing.

At times the film may not be super realistic like with the Baseball association taking Guffy to court though. You really think they would have this much drama right before the World Series? I don’t see them stopping that game for just about anything. Particularly something like this which isn’t even a crime. Even if Guffy had finally cracked, that’s something that would be looked at during the off season. That’s why I liked how the NY teams took it as they were so confident they didn’t care if Angels were helping the Pirates. At the end of the day they were still ready to square off.

I enjoyed the court scene quite a lot near the end of the film. Even if as I mentioned, it’s hard to see the court happening, it was fun to see the 3 pastor figures they invited wreck everyone else. They did point out (in a polite way) that it’s rather crazy to claim to believe in the Bible but to not believe in Angels. I know there are a lot of factions out there but it’s like how I was reading that many don’t believe that the story of Noah is real. That’s something that could warrant its own article but you can’t just pick bits and pieces of it to be accurate. Either you believe in the whole package or none of it. You can’t go halfway on something like this. After setting the judge straight and the Angel also appearing a bit, that concluded the scene but it was a lot of fun. I was a little surprised that Guffy got in one more punch but I suppose he just couldn’t help it. Fortunately the Angels had mercy on him because things could have gotten messy otherwise.

Overall, Angels in the Outfield is a very pleasant film. It’s pretty down to Earth and only focuses on a few characters so we could really see their character development. Quite a lot happens during the film and it’s never dull. While the Baseball players themselves don’t get the largest role here, I do like how one of them stuck up for Guffy when the others were calling him crazy. Additionally I was glad that the old pitcher got to have one last good game. It all makes for a pretty emotional film. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s aged very well over the years.

Overall 7/10

Baseball Review

It’s time for another classic NES game. This time we’re looking into the wide world of Baseball. It’s not a sport that I’m a huge fan of both in watching the real thing or playing the video game versions. For the game adaptions, it’s because a lot of the game seems to be RNG to an extent. When you hit the ball you just never know where it’ll go as opposed to something like Football where you deliver the ball where it needs to be. To that extent, I was pretty impressed as I would say this Baseball game beats a lot of the newer ones. The simplistic controls and style actually worked out really well and made the game more enjoyable. I was getting blown out initially but by the end of the game I started getting pretty close. I narrowly lost 15-13 and one more Homer could have done the trick. I probably should have tried for it, but I don’t tend to use the rewind feature in sport titles so I just ate my loss.

The goal of the game is to hit the ball somewhere where the opponents can’t reach it and you score points once you run around the diamond and make it back home. The more points you score the better as the team with the most points at the end ends up winning the match. You throw the ball when the other team is set to hit it and then you shift sides after knocking 3 of their guys out. When hitting the ball you can hold the hit button to keep the bat out instead of swinging it. That way you lay out a bunt and then run for first base. It seems really handy for getting that opening move but after that usually there just isn’t enough time to get to further bases. It’s still a tactic I recommend though.

As for hitting the ball, well that’s where the timing will come into play. Make sure you hit the ball really carefully or you may end up hitting out of bounds or into someone’s mitt. That’s definitely the last thing you want to happen here since a single wrong hit can really make things not go very well for you. The opposing team won’t hold back with their hits after all. Careful when you’re fielding the ball though because missing it once or predicting the bounce the wrong way can end up costing you 1-3 points. Those make a huge difference when it comes to the final total. For all you know that may be the difference between victory and defeat.

There’s not a lot to say about the graphics because it’s basically the same as most of the other NES games. You’ve got some crispy sprite artwork to look at and it’s all pretty easy to see. The menus are clear which is always important. Between that and the solid gameplay you’re set up pretty well. This is the kind of game without a whole lot of extra content so you’ll probably play a game or two and then call it a day.

Overall, Baseball is definitely a fun title. It’s easy to pick up and play and just seems a lot more fun than some of the others like Tennis. As someone who usually doesn’t care for Baseball all that much I was pretty impressed. I’m nearing the end of the sport games on the NES so soon it’ll be time for more of the Arcade thrillers and games of that nature. I’m definitely expecting big things coming up. If you have the Switch Online then there is no reason not to check out this one. Whenever a game is free I feel like you’re obligated to at least give it a quick whirl even if you don’t ultimately stick around. What’s the harm in a quick check right?

Overall 6/10

Major League Baseball 2K7 Review

It’s time for another Baseball game! This one could actually be the last one I review for a while which is pretty crazy. I have two more MLB games, but they haven’t been working. If they don’t start working soon then it’ll be time to cut my losses with them. Baseball is one of the few series where I actually tend to prefer 2K to the main line games. 2K7 is no exception and actually has the best batting mechanics I’ve seen yet. If you really like Baseball then this is the title for you. It’s still not really my sport when it comes to video games because I feel like there is too much RNG, but at least now I can hit the ball back.

There are a lot of modes as always here but the one you will want is the exhibition mode right off the bat. I just wanted to test my skills against another Baseball team and so I dashed over. Much to my surprise I actually put up a pretty good fight here. It started out badly as I was down 3-0 after a few innings. I just couldn’t manage to hit the ball. I checked the settings and the reason for this was that the game was using motion controls. You were supposed to tilt your controller in order to swing. This is all well and good except for the fact that my PS3 controller has no such feature. I switched the controls to what they listed as “Classic” which allowed me to hit the ball normally. It went back to a classic “Press X” control scheme which is way more my speed.

So I started to make my comeback. I was hitting balls left and right. A lot of them went foul but others would actually be home runs. Eventually the game ended with a score of 9-6. I may have lost, but I got really close compared to most games where I lose 18-0 or something like that. At least this one made me feel like I was in the game at several points. It still doesn’t really take away from my main issue with these Baseball games though. My problem is that none of it feels like it’s in my control.

When pitching, the guy will just hit the ball sometimes. It doesn’t matter if you hit the perfect pitch, sometimes the guy will simply be ready for it. Likewise when you’re batting you can be in just the right spot and still not hit the ball. Perhaps it was outside and it just looked like it was in. Even worse is when you hit the ball and it goes out of bounds or straight into someone’s mitt. I know there are ways to angle your hit better and if you don’t want to go out of bounds then you’ve got to work on timing but there is too much that is out of my control for me to enjoy it as much as the others.

Basketball, Football, and Tennis are my three favorite sports to play in video game format and that’s because RNG is kept to a minimum there. What you see is what you get. If you mess up then it’s all on you. Sure, there is RNG present in every game and those are not exceptions, but they don’t feel nearly as frequent as they do in Baseball. No matter how refined the controls get, I feel as though that will always be holding the series back to an extent.

As always the graphics are good though. The players all look lifelike and the Baseball field is very clear. A lot of effort went into this even if it’s not quite up to Madden level. The presentation is also nice with a lot of quick cutscenes showing up between plays or after the game. Even seeing everyone heading into the stadium was a lot of fun. Slowly but surely the games are all starting to have big presentations like this and I think it’s definitely a good thing. It makes the whole thing look and feel even more realistic.

There’s a lot of replay value to be had here so you don’t have to worry about running out of content. That’s never really been a concern in Baseball games though so I would have been surprised if there was a lack of content. You can play endless matches against all of the teams and there are a lot of modes to try out. Considering that the game is only about a dollar or two nowadays it’s really a great deal for sure.

Overall, Major League Baseball 2K7 is probably one of the best Baseball games I’ve played. It’s quite solid for a Baseball game, but still doesn’t solve the things that were issues for me. I think the games need to take a bit of inspiration from the Mario Baseball game for Gamecube. Of course they wouldn’t grab the special abilities or anything like that, but the batting mechanics were quite solid. There you felt like every ball went exactly where you wanted it to go and that’s a really good thing. I’m confident it will happen in a main Baseball game someday.

Overall 5/10