Let’s Play Ball!
I love a good baseball game. Being able to belt dingers out of a ballpark on my phone is always enjoyable. Especially when there’s a solid create a player feature. But Gamevil’s Baseball Superstars 2020 is unlike any baseball game I’ve ever played before. It’s takes all of the traditional conventions of a baseball game and puts them in an insane, otherworldly universe.
Baseball Superstars 2020 starts with some exposition to get the player caught up with the game. According to the opening animation, baseball has transcended the earth and is now the most popular sport in the galaxy. It was originally a blood sport called the Baseball Battle League. After the legendary King Tiger sacrificed his arm in a gruesome home run hit, there was a call for change. As a result, the Baseball Superstar League was created. So, within 30 second of starting the game, players learn that baseball has left the Earth. It became insanely popular on other planets. And it was once a bloodsport. Now, it’s a proving ground for the greatest athletes in the galaxy, which includes demons and anthropomorphic animals. Like I said, this game is different from any other baseball game I’ve ever played.
After the exposition, players will be able to create their own team. First, they’ll customize the team emblem and name. Next, they’ll customize their home, away, and batting uniforms. Customization options are bit limited in terms of characters for team names and different uniform options. But there’s still enough for someone to flex their creative muscles. I spent about 30 minutes painstakingly customizing everything about my team and I found it thoroughly enjoyable.
The Opening Pitch
After creating their customized team, players are taken to Baseball Superstars 2020’s main menu. From there, players can choose from the many game modes available to play. In total there’s MyPlayer, Season Mode, PvP Mode, Tournament Mode, and Home Run Derby. There are also Daily Challenges, which are random challenges that offer players special rewards every day. The MyPlayer mode is pretty enjoyable. Players start by creating their own custom character. There are limited options, but there’s just enough to still be creative thanks to the game’s cartoon 3D graphics. I ended up modeling my custom players after my favorite anime characters or pro athletes. It managed to give each character an extra endearing quality.
Baseball Superstars 2020’s MyPlayer is unique in that it directly impacts a player’s custom team. Each MyPlayer will have to play their way through the campaign, interacting with NPC trainers and increasing their stats with each game. After a character wins their league championship, they’re eligible for a promotion to the big leagues. This allows a player to put their custom MyPlayers onto their custom team. It was cool getting to build a team filled with my own players, who I had started to build a connection with. Unfortunately, filling out your entire team with custom players will feel like a serious grind. There just isn’t enough variation between each campaign.
The Basics Are Basic
As far as actual gameplay goes, Baseball Superstars 2020 feels very similar to any other run-of-the-mill baseball game. Pitching and hitting controls are basic. To pitch, you select your pitch type and target a spot around the batter’s box. Then get the right timing on a pitching meter to make sure the throw is perfect. Hitting controls can be set to easy or advanced. Easy simply allows a person to swing whenever the pitch is close. Advanced forces the player to aim the bat. They have more control over their swing and where they put the ball on a hit.
The game itself isn’t very challenging, and that can be a good and a bad thing. Because it’s easy, a player can easily run up the score and try to hit home runs at every bat. But a player will also rarely find themselves in a tight game. More often than not, I’d have about a ten-run lead before the bottom of the fifth inning. It makes for an enjoyable game in spurts but lacks longevity. It quickly becomes boring winning one-sided games, especially when you need to continuously do so to fill out a custom team. The game also features special swings and pitches, which can be pretty exciting. Specials are unlocked through working with trainers and give characters supercharged pitches and swings. Each special has its own unique animation. Trying to unlock them all is challenging, but each special is pretty impressive to see.
A Bit Too Much
To put it lightly, Baseball Superstars 2020 feels bloated. There’s a lot to like with this game, and then there’s a lot else. There are just too many features in this game. Every time I’m taken to the main menu, part of me feels a bit overwhelmed. Aside from the six game modes already mentions, there’s the trainer section, players section, social, missions, inventory, and a shop. There’s also costumes, Lecter’s Lab, an owner guide, user ranks, contests, and a whole bunch of special offers. All of this causes the main menu to look cluttered and overcrowded.
The trainer section accounts for a lot of the bloated feeling in this game. The section includes manage trainers, which is where a player can upgrade their trainer. Manage cores, which are used to upgrade trainers. Deck, where players set their active trainers, and index, which shows the full catalog of trainers. Lecter’s Lab is another feature that involves upgrading trainers. Trainers are an interesting aspect of the game. They can range from some really cool character designs, like futuristic robots or fighting monk, and help unlock special moves. Trainers also feel like empty collectibles taking player’s money, as they can be purchased in the shop, as well as cores. They don’t add much to gameplay and feel more cosmetic than purposeful.
Overall, Baseball Superstars 2020 is an enjoyable baseball game that hits all the notes fans of America’s pastime might be looking for. It does a great job of creating a unique setting with interesting characters, but it doesn’t amount to as much as it could. This is a fun game but can quickly feel stale.
Is It Hardcore?
Baseball Superstars 2020 might be the most unique baseball game I’ve ever played. The game’s fantastic setting can reel a player in, but basic gameplay and an overwhelming amount of game features may not have a person playing for long.