So, I have a confession to make. I was prepared to dislike Baseball Superstars 2012 [Free]. You can blame Homerun Battle 2 [$4.99/Lite] for that one, as it had left me deeply distrustful of freemium sports games. Nonetheless, driven by Air Penguin [99¢/Lite] inspired optimism and the extravagant amount of praise that had been lavished over the franchise, I ended up downloading it anyway.

I'm glad I did. Though not what you would call 'your must-have game in the event of a zombie apocalypse', Baseball Superstars 2012 is still kinda awesome. Depending on how much you like your baseball, it might even be extremely awesome. There's a part of me that wants to be the cranky curmudgeon and witheringly observe that Baseball Superstars 2012 is, while a competent product, just a souped-up version of the one from the previous years, but I can't. The rest of me is too busy cultivating my digitized athletes.

Baseball Superstars 2012 is engaging in all the right ways. The core gameplay mechanics are incredibly easy to learn, but not so easy to master. As the batter, you'll basically have to ensure that your batting reticule is within the general vicinity of the ball before you smack it with all your virtual, training-augmented might. Here, you'll have the option of choosing between the usage of the D-PAD or the device's accelerometer; I personally recommend the latter. Things are even easier for the pitcher. To lob your balls, you swipe your finger across a grid-like area on the screen. Different pitches will naturally require a different set of motions.

Strangely enough, what makes Baseball Superstars 2012 work is the metaphorical packaging. For example, while the various modes are little more than different ways of approaching the aforementioned elements, there's still an ungodly amount of things to do. Want to be be a batter? Fire up 'My Batter' and enjoy a ten-year career. Prefer pitching instead? Load 'My Pitcher'. Would you rather micromanage a coterie of little athletes? 'My Team' will be your game mode of choice. The list goes on. You'll get to also dive into challenges, missions, engage in asynchronous multiplayer battle royales and fine-tune your little league of winners.

Visually speaking, Baseball Superstars 2012 is definitely the best-looking of the pack. The resolution is higher, the interface is cleaner and the sprites look like they were manufactured by a man-hwa artist. The writing, unfortunately, still leaves much to be desired. Aside from the overall aesthetics, one of the biggest changes here is the inclusion of the overworld. No longer will you be trapped in the stadium at large. Now, you'll be able to roam the somewhat scenic-looking town that rings in. In between matches, Baseball Superstars 2012 will allow you to do everything from engage in a fortune-telling session to helping out in a hospital to training in the park. Some of these activities will decrease or increase various statistics, others will add to your modest bank account.

Along the way, you'll also bump into an assortment of big-breasted characters, many of whom will engage you in peculiar conversations. To be honest, few of the encounters made any sense to me. What do aggressive female characters with a penchant for romance books have to do with baseball? While I appreciated the effort, this aspect of Baseball Superstars 2012 felt tacked on and a little awkward.

That aside, there's not much to dislike about Baseball Superstars 2012. Heck, even the IAPS are not constantly forced down your throat, something that is a rarity with this business model. Gamevil has done a fine job improving on each iteration. Baseball Superstars 2012 might not redefine mobile gaming but it'll certainly be a worthy addition to your collection of games.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Anonymous

    Boobs attract (some) customers. Great game btw.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

      I wouldn't say attract as in would be the key to a purchase, but they're often a welcome addition.

  • whil mccutchan

    I really didn't like this one to be honest.  Not terrible, just not my style I guess.  

  • Tim Harding

    Yeah, not a fan.  The hitting isn't very good and all the extra japanese romance sim stuff is annoying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kakmybro William Lee

      It's Korean. The extra romance stuff makes stuff awesome

  • http://clickplow.com/ John

    Another year another rehash.

  • Cameron Stark

    I'm enjoying it so far, a much bigger refresh than 2011.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4OJSEASXHUB7FACV6VQPNJCELE Deric

    It doesn't matter what version I try, I can never do anything in these games. I want to like this so much but hitting is just hard with non existing depth perception of the ball. Then the easy setting of the ai is just ridiculous, they slam 4 homeruns in a row on the first game of a tournament? ya ok...and not to mention they dish out super characters constantly on me.

    • http://twitter.com/deathchop deathchop

      Totally agree, I've played the last few versions and it seems to offer even less subtlety to hitting than in the past. Sometimes your bat doesn't even hit the ball, seems glitchy.

  • http://twitter.com/deathchop deathchop

    Can anyone recommend a more sim-type game with better control over running and fielding?

  • http://twitter.com/ElectricRetard Luc Berro

    Do you think at the beginning of the game you MUST be the MVP of the baseball?

    It's not that at all, you must train, earn G-Points with missions and build your character to be a good baseball player.

    Baseball Superstars is just a fantastic serie.

  • Ryan Proud

    You will not do well at this game unless you want to dump loads of money into in-app purchases.  The game is designed to force you into these.  The game itself would be very good if not for this problem.  I would pay a few bucks to buy this upfront, but I won't participate in a protection scheme to enjoy a game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kakmybro William Lee

      You can earn some of that money. I can do well at the last edition of this game just by playing the game.

    • http://twitter.com/Nightsong Nightsong

      You're completely wrong. It is entirely possible to have a great career, with multiple MVPs, championships and record-breaking years, without spending a dime. See my post with suggestions below.

  • mf_67

    To everyone bitching that you can't do well without spending real cash: I have a two-time MVP batter, a pitcher who's led the league in Ks three years straight and a pretty darn good My Team squad, and I've never spent a dime. You've got to get used to the system, I'll admit, but if you put some practice in, you'll be golden. Never skimp put on buying items in the modes either, those things can save your ass. Only complaint I have about this game is that I wish one had the option to turn super players off, especially the pitchers; I never use them, and it just frustrates me that they can go an ungodly amount of innings sometimes and my poor batters have no chance in hell.

    All in all, gotta say that I am, indeed, in love with this game. Best sports game for the iPod/iPhone I've seen.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BBMOAHKCWO2B53FXE3P55WBPCM Evan

    The only thing I truly hate about this game is how futile it feels when the opposing superstar pitcher comes in. It basically removes all strategy from the game and you just guess hopelessly when and where the ball will magically arrive.

  • Mike LaCroix

    i don't lie the super batters always pitching when I'm on a roll in batter mode

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PHMYJD52TMSKIXNXY33KRHNIU4 Max

    I'm not sure why people make it sound like it's impossible.  I just finished the My Batter career (for the second time) -- I achieved all my goals every season and was MVP all ten years, all without spending a penny on this game. In fact, I didn't even spend any time on the My Pitcher or My Team modes to earn G-Points, either.

    A very fun and addictive game.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/WAHOBZJDOB2EAAQASINDLGTHHU Seth

      Are you sure you're not talking about 2011? I must be doing something wrong because I am not even close to my goals after 5 seasons.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WAHOBZJDOB2EAAQASINDLGTHHU Seth

    My batter mode is way harder compared to 2011 in which you could reach your batting goals regularly and hit some decent home runs. In 2012 i've hit one goal in 5 seasons despite lots of training, item purchasing and g-point use. Near the end of my fifth season I'm batting .290 with 4 home runs. Not even close to the .400 and 20 goals. For a power hitter, pretty lame. They moved it way more towards in-game purchasing. The graphics are way better but the free game play sucks in 'my batter'.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/N3UCAEDDYDUJACDJ26MD5QDLAE Jenjoe Canezal

    The Pitcher mode is hard! Can anyone give me some tips?

  • http://twitter.com/Nightsong Nightsong

    You can have a GREAT player without spending any money.

    I've
    spent no money (READ: No real-world cash), and my pitcher has 5 seasons with 20+ wins, 6 seasons
    with 200+ strikeouts, 2 seasons with 300+ strikeouts, at least half a
    dozen perfect games, and almost every stat maxed out. Won the championship *every* year,
    9/9 so far, with the 10th a lock. Of course the first two were lucky, because you start as a
    reliever for two seasons, but after that my pitcher was a starter. I'm
    on pace to easily hit 2,000 strikeouts.

    In batter mode, I just finished year 7 with 25 home runs and 59 RBI,
    and the season is only 45 games long. Average at 7th year was .518, OBS close to .600, and OPS more than 1.600. Overall OPS of 1.100+ over 7
    seasons.

    NO REAL MONEY SPENT. At all. Not a dime.

    My suggestions:

    1) Pick the Swallows. The name is awful, the team color is purple,
    but they are by far the best team for pitchers and hitters. As a
    pitcher, you get real run support, and the team is good almost every
    year. As a hitter on the Swallows, you almost always have runners ahead of you on the base paths, which helps you rack up RBI, popularity and morale.

    2) DO NOT waste G-Points on Hawkeyes or other aids. Use them on Mom's
    Lunch and individual stat upgrades if you need to up a specific stat. Upping your stats is way more important than using a crutch like Hawkeye or Pitch Locator, and you will learn a rhythm quickly anyway, so you don't need those things.

    3) Save your money and at least get a Sublime two-set. Keep in mind there are set bonuses, ie. if you have 2 pieces of Sublime gear as a pitcher, you get a +40 Control bonus in addition to the regular stats on those items.

    4) Train, train, train. Don't waste Active. Training with higher condition gets you more points.

    5) Buy your Skills carefully. Don't waste skill points on more than
    two tier 1 skills, because they're not worth it. Save up for the skills
    that cost 60, and get the ones that benefit you most situationally. For example, Opportunist gives you +6% SLG on the first pitch -- great for knocking home runs out of the park if the pitcher leaves the first pitch over the plate, and great for combining with Super Swing to manufacture a HR.

    6) Always make sure you have enough Condition to play your two-game sets. Getting sick or injured just wastes G-Points.

    Additional advice for pitching:

    - Think like a real baseball pitcher. You don't want to leave pitches out over the center of the plate, but you shouldn't mindlessly hit the corners either. You have to mix up your pitches.

    - Along the same lines, set up your strikeout pitch, just like a real pitcher. If you throw two fastballs at 90+ mph, throw a changeup as your strikeout pitch to get the batter to swing early and rack up a K.

    - Save your Super Pitches (you get two per game) to use as third-strike pitches when you have runners on second or third, to get out of jams. In the early seasons, when your WHIP resembles that of a real MLB pitcher, this is crucial. It's the difference between having a 1.20 WHIP and a 2.50 ERA, and having a 1.20 WHIP with an ERA above 4.00+. Getting out of jams is crucial.

    - Some people recommend mixing up balls between strikes, but I don't. If you're going for high K counts (and you should, to get a ton of G-Points), you're going to need to be efficient with your pitches, and you want to last as many innings as possible to ensure wins. By the fifth season, you should be tossing complete games regularly. Your last 5 years, you should be pitching 200+ innings a season.

    - You can jam up sluggers with high, inside fastballs. Highly recommended after getting them to chase a curve.

    - You get G-Point bonuses for strikeout streaks, strikeout totals, complete games, shutouts, no-hitters, perfect games, double plays, escaping bases loaded jams, super fielding, and winning by 5/10 runs. You can rack up more than 100 G-Points per game pitched if you toss 9-inning shutouts with high strike-out totals. It adds up fast.

    Most important, don't give up! It's perfectly normal to have a first good year, a bad second year, an average third year. From there, if you regularly buy Mom's Lunch (+7 to all stats) and upgrade your equipment, you'll make progress every year.

    Good luck!

  • Tropxe

    Well my first three years consisted of pretty much every rank being D, and my team going straight to the bottom and staying there. In the fourth year I got to 2nd, then dropped down to last place again. Now in my fifth year, I'm starting to get better stats as well as really getting grips with how the game works. I really like this game, it even encouraged me to get into baseball itself, since before that I'd never even seen a game.

    I do dislike how the game is undeniably designed around getting you to splurge on microtransactions out of frustration, though. It's true you can do it without using real money, but there's no way on Earth this game would have been designed the way it was, with the cost of items being what they are, and the rewards being as stingy as they are, all bundled in an insane learning curve and punishing gameplay, if there wasn't that constant "Why not give us $$$ and the pain will go away" message being none-too-subtly waved in your face. Its business model isn't bad as far as mobile gaming goes, but that's like picking the least smelly turd out of an enormous mountain of shit.

    G-points aside, this is an incredibly addictive and satisfying game.

  • Tropxe

    Okay, I'm in my final year now. I'm consistently getting A+ and A ranks but my team has still never finished better than bottom of the league. I've never got an MVP although I've got some league records (usually most hits IIRC).

    As far as I'm concerned, Gamevil have really screwed this game up. The anime style gives it a playful charm that conceals just what a grinding money-grab this is. Playing proper baseball games like 2K12 has much more strategy and depth, yet is nowhere near as brutally hard or completely random in terms of how the other team performs. I still enjoy it, but as a mindless time waster rather than as a decent baseball game.

Baseball Superstars® 2012. Reviewed by Cassandra Khaw on . Rating: 4