Saturday, January 23, 2016

Baseball Riot (PS4)

Taking inspiration from mobile game franchises like "Angry Birds" 10tons released a wacky sports trajectory game which follows closely a has-been baseball player named Gabe who was injured during a season's playoffs. Gabe (the protagonist) ended up taking a baseball to the knee (enter Skyrim joke here), and in doing so became unable to play due to his unfortunate injury. After his mishap in the major leagues, Gabe fell to the wayside as newspaper tabloid material like most famous has-beens do. He was continuously shunned by his critics while his misadventures in the real world were documented in full for readers of said newspaper to gawk at. Following his forced retirement the team which Gabe had played for was ultimately bought out by a chemical corporation known as "Explodz", and was renamed the "Electrolytes" for obvious reasons. As the team became successful a problem emerged regarding the popular Explodz beverage which was consumed by players, and fans alike. This beverage was causing the fans, and players to become enraged for some unknown reason. Stepping up to the plate (pun intended) Gabe decides to take on the role of the hero, and uses his pro league batting skills to bat the bejeezus out of those who were afflicted by the effects of the sinister soda. It is his way of getting back into the league, and reclaiming his rightful place with the team he was once a crucial part of. Whether, or not he achieves this goal is up to you!

Laid out like a map of the United States "Basebal Riot" is sectioned off in state inclusive squares which each house a series of individual mini-games that must be completed in order to fully finish the game. These mini-games have the gamer taking on the role of Gabe as he bats balls at various types of fans, players, and star targets. Along with the objective that is batting out the soda seduced bad guys it is Gabe's objective to nail all three star targets while keeping in mind the old "3 strikes your out" baseball rule. To begin with Gabe has three baseballs with which to knock out all enemy targets, and at least one star. The trick is to use the environment, and environmental objects around Gabe to hit all targets in a trajectory based fashion without using up his three swings. Think of it as pool, or billiards in a 2D platforming setup. Swings in the game are of course tied to the amount of baseballs Gabe has in stock, so swinging sparingly is a must. While the base number of balls, and swings is limited to three initially Gabe can gain extra balls/swings by getting head shots or sequential knockouts. The goal, regardless of the players' approach to completing the level, is to knock out all targets with the least balls/swings possible. In doing so the player will not only get the three star completion, but will also gain golden baseballs which further adds to the perfection based gameplay.

By knocking out all of the players, and fans in a given level and gaining the required amount of stars gamers will unlock airports which lead into the other sectioned squares of the game's US map. On top of this the knockouts, head shots, stars, and golden baseball awards will also be tallied in baseball fields, and stadiums within each squared off area for in-game reference, and advancement purposes. The baseball fields each house two missions which will have you completing certain tasks in a specific manner. These missions are more or less there to extend upon the perfectionist oriented gameplay, and to give the gamer something else to do other than the straightforward level objectives. As far as the stadiums go they are there to keep track of your knockout, and head shot stats only.

When it comes to the player, and fan types in each level, and squared off area a card will show the new enemy type as they are added. It will describe said enemy's weakness/strength in text underneath a picture of the enemy. When you first begin the game in the southern California region you'll only face off against the fans which can be hit directly from any angle. As you progress player types like catchers which can catch the ball, and umpires which have front facing armor that deflects the ball will come into play. The enemy types stack with each newly unlocked region making the objectives all the more tricky to complete as you progress. Along with the various types of enemies also comes objects such as 'rofl tires', 'Explodez vending machines', 'Glass panels & cubes', and various other items which can benefit you if used properly with the base swinging mechanics.

It should also be known that Gabe stands stationary in on designated spot, and does not move other than to face a different direction, and to swing at a different angle. To swing the gamer has to press "X" once the aiming sight, and line of sight reference point is where they want it. You'll basically be bouncing the baseballs off of walls, objects, and targets as you try to complete the multiple objectives. If you knockout all players/fans in one swing you'll score a home run, and if you complete a level by hitting all targets as well as all the stars you'll end with a full three star completion rating along with up to three golden balls. Playthrough perfection is definitely the point of this wacky sports game.

Now for the Verdict ...

For $4.99 "Baseball Riot" is a good buy. While it's not going to be every gamers' cup of tea it will more than likely suit those who enjoy mobile gaming as well as those who love games like "Angry Birds". I personally liked the softly applied comedic presentation, and the underlying plot which gave the gamer a proper reasoning behind the straightforward objectives. The art style is humorous as is the quirky soundtrack which compliments the gameplay. The fact that 10tons did their own thing with the map completion, the baseball field objectives, and the level fulfillment requirements really helped to further flesh out the game in a unique way. Everything in the game felt like it belonged, and with all the extra things to do, and view it made the game worthy of the asking price. I'd say go for it if this type of game genre interests you. It's not bad at all for an indie!

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