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iPod/iPhone App Reviews: iBaseball

This week’s free iPhone/iPod App to review: iBaseball by SGN.

App’s Description:

Batter up! Play an inning against our team. First, use your curveball and fastball to strike three batters out. It’s easy to pitch in iBaseball, just select your pitch and then make a throwing motion with the iPhone. Then you’re up at bat. Various speed pitches will come at you. Swing your iphone like a bat and see how many hits you get.

Be a pitcher and a hitter. As a pitcher, players have the opportunity to pitch to three batters with a fastball or curveball. As a batter, players try for as many hits as possible in a single inning.

OWC Chris’s Review

I really have nothing against “active” games. All things considered, they’re probably a good idea. Its like an extension of that whole “get active” thing doctors have been telling us for years.

Yeah. Great.

Unfortunately, while iBaseball gives an admirable try at providing an “active” baseball game, the design of the iPhone platform gets in the way of its execution.

You get to do two things in iBaseball: pitch and bat. Pitchers have a choice between a curveball and a fastball. To pitch you “throw” the ball by moving the hand you’re holding your device with in the appropriate fashion. This part was marginally entertaining, though I was hard-pressed to tell the difference between the game’s curveball and fastball.

Where it really falls apart is the batting. To swing the bat, you swing the phone as if it were a bat. That would make sense if you were playing on a home console with motion controllers and looking at a screen. Unfortunately,  on an iPhone, if you hold the phone as if it were a bat, the screen is behind your head, making it difficult to see the incoming pitch without doing some interesting acrobatics that are sure to get you strange looks while you’re killing time at the DMV. After a while, I took to just shaking my iPod a little in order to swing. It worked, but it sure felt like cheating.

Overall, I wasn’t all that enthused with this app. I’m sure there’s someone out there that may like it (probably OWC Michael, who seems to have opposite tastes to mine when it comes to many of our reviews), but the lack of depth plus the possibility of looking like a doofus in in public… I’ll save that for the professional athletes.

Final Verdict: This app needs to be sent back down to the minors for re-thinking.

OWC Michael’s Review

Graphics on this one reminded me of Nintendo’s (the original one) R.B.I. Baseball, which I used to spend hours playing in my youth (dating myself a bit there). Except that rather than have rotund little men with short legs that you couldn’t quite make out features on, you have bowling ball headed players with stick legs that you can’t quite make out features on. (How could they ever get called up to the majors in their physical condition?)

Mix the funny looking people with some physical motion for the act of pitching and batting and this makes a great game for the kids but definitely doesn’t delve deep enough into the game of baseball to hold the attention of your average young adult gamer.  As a pitcher, you only have two pitches in your wheelhouse: the fastball and the curveball. As batter, you are just trying to time your swing to hit the ball cleanly. Your average little leaguer will tell you that the best parts of the game are pitching and hitting – and that’s all this game gives you.

Overall: I can find no faults with the game itself.  It plays cleanly but I when it comes to baseball games, I prefer the ability to play the whole game, not just a pair of positions.

OWC Grant’s Review

Since I was out of the last one or two app reviews with all the craziness here with an iPad product line launch, I made sure to get home early one night and try this game out with Morgan and Logan. Our normal process of evaluation begins with me downloading the game, checking out the instructions, and then trying it out myself while they observe. First thing I noticed was that one of three fuctions or games, Pitching, did not work. Oddly enough, the pitching function of Play Ball did. And the Batting aspect worked fine too. Some very keen observations come about while watching kids play a game. For some reason, both felt compelled to stand while in the Batting mode. And in that mode, we discovered that if you missed on your first “swing” (more on that movement latter) if you swung again quickly you would get a hit. I got pretty good at that….if I didn’t hear the bat connect with the ball, I swung again. That tactic led to a high score which Logan loudly decried and left me feeling like the game really wasn’t true to its intended rules of the game.

While I watched the kids “swing”…which really is more of a rather violent wrist and forearm twist, I had visions of our Touch flying into the glass table, the entertainment center’s glass doors, etc. Like the Wii controllers, playing this game REALLY requires the use of a wrist strap to prevent the Touch becoming an errant home run projectile.

Another key observation is that this game perhaps is too similar to other baseball types of games like found on our Wii. As such, the kids didn’t argue over who got to go next. No, it wasn’t a rare moment in the universe…I chalk it up to that it really wasn’t unique enough from other game experiences to make it a “hey, it’s my turn now…DAD!” scenario.

My Rating: As Morgan uniquely opined, “Just like ‘Yan Can Cook and so can you’, I can play this game and so can you.” It’s easy to play and enjoy, but from my perspective, not a practical game for playing in vehicle, train, plane, etc. With all of the above considered, I unfortunately have to give this a Nay. Kinda like how some Cubs fans and reporters felt about a certain play calling recently.

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