Over the past couple of years, Gamevil has become one of the premiere developers for iOS, churning out such amazing portable games as the critically acclaimed Zenonia and Hybrid franchises. They’re obviously a studio that knows their way around the iPhone platform, and with Baseball Superstars 2011, Gamevil has delivered one of the best and most fully-featured baseball title on the iPhone.
While its appearance may harken back to the days of RBI Baseball, Baseball Stars 2011 delivers an experience far more involved than its cutesy appearance would suggest.
Those familiar with Konami’s “MLB Power Pros” series will find the Baseball Superstars franchise immediately familiar. Like Power Pros, Baseball Superstars 2011 features a Japanese animation style, with cute, big-headed players mixed with features found in more “serious” baseball simulators like Season and League modes, and the ability to manage not only the roster on your team, but also the details of your stadium, its signage and concessions. However, MLB purists may be disappointed to find out that unlike Power Pros, this game is not licensed by Major League Baseball, therefore the team and player names are all fictional.
What Baseball Superstars 2011 lacks in realism and simulation, it fully makes up for in goofy gameplay. For example, when choosing your team, you’re also able to select and cultivate a “super” player. This player will have special moves allowing him or her to do things like throw wild pitches that defy the laws of physics. Training the player will not only gain experience, but also earn special points that you can use to purchase equipment and other items for your team. In addition, keeping up team morale is important, so you are able to entertain your players by taking them out to dinner.
All the features in Baseball Superstars can admittedly be a bit overwhelming. Between trading players, upgrading your stadium, hiring and firing coaches, upgrading your equipment, and the seemingly endless list of other options at your disposal, you may find yourself just wanting to swing the bat for a few innings. Luckily, there’s a simple Exhibition Mode that allows you to do just that, making Baseball Superstars 2011 a game that can be as simple or as deep as you’d like it. Want a quick nine innings while you wait on the bus? Play an abbreviated game in Exhibition Mode. Have an afternoon to kill? Knock out half a season tweaking your team, increasing your revenue, and climbing your way up the standings.
Additionally, there’s a pseudo “online” mode, which allows you to take your team and play against the stats of another team. In other words, you won’t be playing an online game in the traditional sense, but playing out a scenario against another team’s statistics. Another interesting aspect of the game is the Mission Mode, where you are tasked with meeting certain criteria, such as striking out a batter or hitting a grand slam. These modes go a great distance in keeping the game fresh for non-baseball junkies and those who are looking to do more than simply grind through a season.
The play field is presented very simply, no matter which side of the plate you’re on, though using an iPad may be preferable due to its larger screen. After all, sifting through all those stats and managing all those options can get a little difficult on the iPhone’s tiny screen. Nevertheless, everything is organized well and Gamevil did a lovely job of laying out the menus and the game screen.
Bottom Line: Baseball Superstars 2011 does a fantastic job of not just playing to baseball enthusiasts, but also non-fans. The lack of MLB licensing may put off some, but this is one of the best portable baseball titles out there.
Baseball Superstars is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.