Weekly iCross: Are you ready for some baseball?

, | Features

I don’t really like baseball. Sure, I can go to a Giants game and have a good time, but I never watch baseball on TV, don’t know who the players are, and don’t how well this team or that team is doing this season. After college, I sort of fell out with professional sports in general. For some reason, I find myself occasionally drawn to sports games, though. Imagine my surprise when I bought Baseball Superstars 2011 for a buck (on steep discount — it’s usually $4.99) and found myself enjoying it so much. It’s just the kind of baseball game for people like me who understand the basics of the game, but don’t really care much about it.

After the jump, a super-Korean take on baseball games

Baseball Superstars 2011 is the fifth in a yearly-updated series by Korean portable game publisher Gamevil. I think it’s supposed to be “game-vil” like “anvil” but I can’t read it as anything other than “game-evil.” The first couple titles were for older mobile phones, but the last three have been iPhone games, which means the formula is pretty well polished by now.

I bring up the nationality of the game maker simply because the game is loaded with Korean-ness. It is by no means a baseball simulation meant to mimic reality. There are no real teams or players. It has a look that is almost classic Japanese anime style, but just a tiny bit different. Just enough to be…Korean. It’s loaded with RPG elements: improve your home stadium, buy training for your team, buy equipment for players. You augment your team over time with wacky super-players that look like they hopped out of a kid’s cartoon and have zany powers. That’s my nurse character up top, a pinch-hitter that clobbers the ball with a giant syringe. I’ve also got a magician guy who throws an impossible zig-zagging pitch. It’s this wacky Korea-ness that makes me love the game in much the same way I loved those old arcade games 2020 Super Baseball and Cyberball. They’re not sports games per se, they’re sports-ish.

Don’t take its wacky cartoon nature to mean it’s a lightweight game, though. There’s surprising depth here for an iOS game. You can play My League mode, choosing a pitcher or batter and just blasting away in that one role for a season, or play Season mode to fully control all aspects of your team through the years. There are one-off exhibition games, a home run contest mode, and online asynchronous multiplayer. Then there’s the silly and annoying “G Points” system. Your team earns money as it wins, but you also slowly earn this in-game currency that can be used to unlock further special players and such. Of course, you can get more G Points faster by downloading and playing partner games, or outright buying them with an in-app purchase. It’s not like I feel as though I’m being short-changed on my five-dollar game, but it really is sort of annoying to see this in a paid app.

The current price drop on Baseball Superstars 2011 is in anticipation of Baseball Superstars II, though I have no idea when that’s going to land. Yet here I am, a totally-not-into-sports kind of guy, wishing they’d hurry up and release it already.

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