Imagine that you like baseball.
I know you probably don’t, but just pretend you do and go with me here.
Imagine you like baseball and you own a Nintendo DS, and you want a game that exploits your love of the game and has somehow found a way to encapsulate all that you adore about it in a bite-sized-and-on-the-go version.
Before you actually went and thought about it, there was the FIFA series of games for the soccer fans, the Madden games for the grid-iron and NFL-football aficionados, Tiger Woods & Touch Gold for those that love a putter, and the dismal Top Spin for people who wanted to peak up a pixelated Anna Kournikova’s skirt (or play a little-more-than-brightly-coloured rendition of Pong). There is even the Mario equivalent of a basketball game, Mario Hoops.
Now, while we have to wait for either 2KGames or Electronic Arts to pull their fingers out and make us a decent basketball or hockey game, we could still dig up one of the many Game Body Advance baseball games to get our digital fill of America’s favourite past-time.
(It’d be Japan’s favourite past-time too if they weren’t already favouring being so good at making the technology that lets us play the games and what the Western world would otherwise consider “sexual deviancy”, neither of which I’d consider a bad thing.)
So, there appears to be a problem for those of us who want to play a game of Major League Baseball on the go like the rest of our sporting brethren can do.
That problem — that gap — could very well have been fixed with the release of DSI Games’ [url=http://au.gamespot.com/ds/sports/wiffleballadvance/index.html?q=wiffle%20ball]Wiffle Ball[/url].
It could’ve been fixed, but it hasn’t because “Wiffle Ball” is a steaming pile of crap.
Let me explain.
Have you ever tried playing a game of basketball between you and a mate only to realise that you both really, really suck?
Well, you can play “HORSE” instead, a variant of the game that plays on where you make the shots from in order to score points.
Well, much like “HORSE” is for basketball players who are either too lazy or too crap to shoot some hoops, “Wiffle Ball” is for two people who either don’t want to crack a few swings or just plainly and utterly suck at baseball in general.
And it is with that premise that you can understand “Wiffle Ball”.
In this game, you will be using the touch screen as both batter and pitcher.
As the batter, you’ll either be holding down the X and letting go when the “ball” comes your way, or you’ll be holding the stylus down in a box and indicating where you want to hit the “ball”, letting go when you’re certain you’re going to hit it.
As the pitcher, you’ll be guiding a target around a box with the stylus to indicate the area you’d like to throw the “ball” and change what looks like the strength of the “ball”. If the batter hits the “ball”, you’ll be guiding the catch behind you using the directional pad to catch the “ball” if they can.
In either case, where the “ball” lands will determine how many points you will get, much like how zones are configured for a game like darts or cricket or the like.
Now, the more perceptive of you may have noted that I’ve been using the term “ball” with quotes around it. This is because I don’t consider this thing a ball. Oh sure, it could be considered “almost-a-ball”, but this Wiffle Ball is hardly a “ball”. It’s round and spherical, yes, but it more resembles a ball that the Mafia got a hold of and filled with holes because the “ball” ratted on Jimmy TwoTeeth for something that’s best left toi the foimily.
[i]I wonder what the catcher does when he’s not allowed to pitch or bat. That would seriously piss me off, what with the batter and pitcher playing favourites. I’d want to leave them and get some ice cream or something.[/i]
I’m missing something most Americans are going to get, however. In America, Wiffle Ball is [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiffleball]a sort of backyard or indoor activity similar to baseball[/url], but with less issue with a ball blowing through a window or your Mum’s priceless vase.
But in Australia where I’ve never seen one of these things before, all I’ve got to go on is what I see in the game, and that’s really what I’ve commented on.
What I haven’t commented on doesn’t help much, and this includes the gameplay, the graphics, or the sound.
Let’s start with the sound: it’s not good. It’s very not good. It’s a lot of “not very good”.
There aren’t too many sounds aside from a “whack” every so often and the music is lame and irritating at best. The music just doesn’t change, and it brings back nightmares of tired games where the music was composed on the cheap without any real thought or regard as to how it got there in the first place. If the music actually changed throughout the game, it never happened to me.
Hell… at points the music was so irritating, I actually contemplated throwing my Nintendo out of my window.
This would’ve been made difficult by the bars and fly-screen on the other side of the windows as the Nintendo just bounced back, but it’s still the thought that counts, and in this instance, I’d prefer it if a game element like the music wasn’t the sole motivator for me throwing my Nintendo to its untimely death.
The graphics aren’t much better. I guess you could say they’re 3d. They’re 3d-ish. They’re somewhat 3d. I’m not doing much here to help the situation, but they’re basically 3d looking models in a 2d environment. The colours and graphics look patchy at best. It’s not very good.
And finally, we should take a whack at the gameplay, because that’s really all you can do: bludgeon it to death — which would take a while with a Wiffle bat — and hope it gets better as you pulverise the bloody thing.
More than likely, you’re going to miss the ball as a batter. The curve that the balls adopt as well as the targeting just seems to be way off of the mark. You’ll be lucky to hit the ball and when you do, it’s highly likely that you won’t get a point because the AI’s catcher in the field will catch your ball almost every time.
It’s so irritating. And so when you take the field as the pitcher and your computer-controlled opponent hits the ball, you’ll find it just as easy to catch their ball and get them to have no points. Or you won’t, and the computer will beat you slowly in this excruciatingly dull game.
But sure… to make it better, the programmers have kindly included a few different players for you to play as and some different fields to play in… like a school or a backyard or a street (yeah, because it’s likely that your council or street would gladly close off their means of transit so you can beat a ball around) or even a sandlot.
The sandlot puzzles me, mind you. You go to a sandlot to play baseball, not Wiffle Ball. Did the developers not think of this? Hell, even I’ve seen [url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108037/]The Sandlot[/url]…
[i]Ahhh… to just stand there and let the breeze play with my Wiffle balls… now this is the life…[/i]
The game is really useless. And sure, I’m probably being over-analytical on a game that will probably never make it out of American shores and is targeted at gamers aged 6-13, but that’s not the point. It’s still a pile of crap.
Basically, the game is meant to be a digital version of a game that is like baseball, but is meant to be played by you, me… anybody, really… provided we have a Wiffle ball and bat. The problem here is that not only is this game a piece of junk, but Wiffle Ball is something that to play it, you should be getting up off of your arse and setting it up and playing it with your mates.
It’s a game that you can actually play without needing to find a lot of space or a diamond or even needing to grab more players for a good and solid game of baseball. But this game… is just so unnecessary… and while being unnecessary, it also accomplishes being an absolute waste of programming.
If you’re considering buying this game, go out and [url=http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&satitle=wiffle]buy a Wiffle set[/url]. It’s going to be a lot more fun and a hell of a lot better value than this piece of crap.
[i]Images used in this entry have been acquired from DSI Games’ webpage on the game.[/i]