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.