Pocket Baseball was supposedly a game that is based on a classic
boardgame of the name Baseball. When I first came across this game, I
thought it would be a pseudo baseball sim, more in the likes of what
football simulators do for soccer fans who are not avid EA FIFA players.
I certainly am too young to know of the days when tabletops reigned
supreme. This in fact, is actually an entire game of baseball played
based on rules of a boardgame. Boardgames have had a tremendous
influence on gaming. Indeed, the very first RPGs were based on
boardgames. Entire franchises like Mechwarrior are intrinsically tied
with their tabletop brethren. A title I recently looked at, Starfleet
Command: Orion Pirates, had immense tactical and strategic depth
probably due to its sophisticated boardgame roots.
Installation of Pocket Baseball was a bit spotty. You'd think with the
relatively sparse graphics and utilitarian nature of the entire program
that its resources would be minimal. The title weighs pretty hefty for
a text-only game. On initial startup, the game seems to compile or do
first-time setup. However, because my bloated iPaq could not field
anymore memory, it merely froze. I had to quit or soft-reset the iPaq
in order to free enough memory (although I had no notice this was needed
to be done) before the game could start in earnest.
Like all computerized versions of boardgames, you are emancipated from
the rulebook and plunged straight into the game. Pocket Baseball lacks
any official licenses to Major League players, so all of the teams and
player names are fictional. I recall in the days of Hardball when clever
and sometimes humorous substitutes were used to recreate the illusion
that you are commanding a realistic team, which does not seem the case
here. You can, however, easily import teams created by the developers
into the game. In fact, there is a tutorial on their website about how
teams are setup.
This really is a moot point because every player is given the same three
functions when they are at bat: a normal hit or bunt. As the bases
become loaded, more options are given to you. But that's really all you
can do in terms of "playing" the game. For me, Pocket Baseball quickly
became a game of tapping rapidly on the various options until the game
ended. In one case of experimentation, I did no worse and no better
simply selecting the default first choice (normal hitting) for every
single choice presented to me. Sometimes, you are given the option to
do things like steal bases and a percentage is calculated for you. I
liked the percentage idea and for a baseball novice like me, I could
make quick snap decisions without plowing through a bunch of stats. I
thought this would be a real "simulation" of the rise and fall of
baseball dynasties. In actuality, it's more like a simplified version
of real simulations or even the real game of baseball. There is
something to be said about the way the internal nuts and bolts of the
game work when the score reaches double digits by the fourth inning. I'm
not an expert at baseball but I know that is extremely rare. Having
tried different teams with different pitchers certainly did not help
alleviate the sometimes ludicrously high scoring games.
Don't expect any arcade style hitting or any flashy graphics whatsoever.
This is, as mentioned before, a utilitarian game. The lack of any
animation, for example, if you hit a homerun, is disconcerting. Though
the interface is completely workable, along the lines that Microsoft
Excel is also workable, it is not aesthetically pleasing, especially
since you will be spending the bulk of your time on one screen. Perhaps
one of the joys of the game being mute is the strong comfort or security
you get when you play this during a boardroom meeting.
This would all be immediately forgiven if I had any inkling or hunch
that this was a serious baseball simulation to the degree found in PC
counterparts. However, without any stats-heavy, realism-laden type of
game, I really cannot bring myself to overlook the lack of visual flare.
Badgersoft, the developers behind this, state explicitly that they will
do nothing but recreate the boardgame experience. Westwood did nothing
but recreate Monopoly online and what was thought to be an instant
megahit turned out to be a cumbersome, trivial and unproductive
recreation of a classic, well known boardgame in electronic format. The
price of Pocket Baseball certainly comes with great value. For a
simulation game though, it certainly does not seem too complex. Mass
tapping on whatever options are given can just as easily win the game
for you. There is so much you can do with simplicity, until the
gameplay disappears from the game. Maybe that's why the tabletop
boardgames were that compelling.
[06/10] Program Size
[12/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer