MLB Power Pros First Look

Who says baseball players need legs? We check out this MLB-licensed version of Konami's long-running hardball series.

by

One part arcade sports game, one part RPG, and one part stat-heavy baseball strategy game, 2K Sports' MLB Power Pros Baseball is nothing if not intriguing, and extremely Japanese. Based on Konami's long-running, incredibly popular baseball game from Japan, Power Pros is now set to debut on American shores next month. As we discovered during some hands-on time with the game today, Power Pros is utterly unlike any baseball game you'll likely have played before.

Big heads, big eyes, no legs: Konami's Power Pro series finally gets the MLB makeover.

If you've never heard of Konami's arcade baseball efforts before, let's set some expectations. First, forget the meticulous level of graphical detail that you see in other baseball games. Instead, the player models in Power Pros are cartoonish to the extreme, with circles for hands, big heads and expressive eyes, and a complete absence of legs (though they do have feet, oddly enough). Picture a Mii with a gland problem, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what the players in Power Pros look like. That said, the developer has gone to some lengths to make sure that big MLB stars are at least semirecognizable, such as giving Manny Ramirez a cartoon equivalent of his long dreads.

Secondly, when it comes to control, Power Pros is as straightforward an arcade baseball experience as you'll find. In the Wii version of the game, you'll be able to play either with the Wii Remote by itself or with the Nunchuk attachment. Playing with the remote is incredibly simple--you swing the remote when at the plate and shake the remote vigorously to either run the bases or field the ball. When pitching, you can choose from a variety of different pitches in your hurler's arsenal, and can add right or left break to the pitch by pressing the plus or minus button, respectively. From there, it's a matter of flicking the controller to throw the ball. That simplistic gameplay is almost too hands-off for our tastes.

Luckily, when you plug the Nunchuk in, you have a good deal more control over the outcome of the game. Fielding and baserunning, for example, is handled with the directional pad. When on the mound, you still select from your pitch arsenal (which includes standard curves, fastballs, and changeups, as well as pitches MLB fans might not be used to seeing, such as the shuto, essentially a more powerful screwball), then press the A button to toss it. Once you've selected your pitch, an icon shows up onscreen which will allow you to aim your pitch in (or out of) the strike zone. You won't have control over the break of the pitch, however, so you'll need to compensate with your aim. When at the plate, a virtual bat will appear onscreen and, to make contact, you'll need to line up the bat's sweet spot to where the ball will cross the plate. You have two swing types, normal and power swing, which can be toggled with the B button. The sweet spot on a power swing is smaller, but the potential reward is taking the ball yard.

With just a glance, it's easy to tell that Power Pros was not developed in the States. From the menu system that contains at least two colors not found in nature, to the insanely chipper musical score, this game looks and sounds unlike any other sports game out there. But the game's unique approach doesn't stop at its presentation. If you really want the full Power Pros experience, two modes--season and success--are where it's at. In the latter, season mode finds you as a fresh-out-of-college GM for your favorite baseball team (think Theo Epstein with even less experience and a much, much larger head). You have a full-time secretary who's moons over your dashing good looks and provides you with tips on how to play through season mode.

Good thing, too, because Power Pros' season mode has an absolutely staggering amount of details when it comes to team management. Just as you'd expect from a more serious baseball sim, season mode in Power Pros will let you check and change your daily rosters, keep up with trade and free agent acquisitions, and give you access to detailed team balance sheets. Moreover, there's a practice mode that will give you the chance to keep your players improving in nearly every aspect of their game. Think Derrek Lee needs more work on his running stamina or that Barry Zito needs to work on his control on the mound? Put them to work in practice and watch as their skills improve. You can even convert players to different positions and add pitches to your bullpen's arsenal.

If season mode is the equivalent of a typical baseball game's franchise feature, then success mode could be thought of as the Power Pros equivalent of a career mode. Here, you start as a college student looking to secure a minor league baseball contract. You'll have three years to get it done and, in between trying to become a star on your school's baseball team, you'll need to balance the other aspects of your collegiate life, such as your part-time job, your studies and, of course, your social life. It's a quirky mode that will have you going out with girls on dates, keeping up with your studies, working part-time jobs to earn cash for items and new equipment, attending team practices to improve your player's skills, and dealing with loads and loads of intrateam drama.

Multiple control schemes will give you as much, or as little control, as you want.

Though you'll spend a lot of your time dealing with off-the-field issues in success mode, you will have time to actually play baseball--typically just playing your own player's at-bats until you are eventually elected team captain, after which you'll have full control of your team for the final two innings of every game on the schedule. The game's fate card system, which gives you a randomly generated set of response cards to use when choices come up in success mode's story, helps ensure that each play-through is unique.

Other modes in the game include exhibition, arrange (a create-a-team option that will let you import your Miis onto a team), league (for up to six players), home run derby, and practice mode. The game won't have any online options, which means the slightly out-of-date rosters (Michael Barrett is still catching for the Cubs, for example) will need to be corrected by hand. And though the players look like kewpie dolls, all of the real MLB parks are created with a nice amount of detail.

The eccentric style of MLB Power Pros might be off-putting to baseball purists, but if you're looking for a fast-paced arcade baseball game that doesn't skimp on game modes and depth, this might be just the thing. The game is due for release in October; stay tuned for more on this quirky sports game in the near future.

Discussion

69 comments
mkraush
mkraush

Playing it right now, best baseball game for the Wii so far, if that says anything. Sorry if it's style isn't dark enough for emolords "Hellpolice" and "EvilResident".

ResidentialEvil
ResidentialEvil

It's getting quite old now that almost every Wii game looks like a freakin' kids' cartoon. The kiddy console tag lives on.

KingChainz31684
KingChainz31684

It sounds like a good change of pace to the baseball games i love combining wii controls with sports game baseball is easy to take advantage of the motion sensing...I would like there to be some kind of regular game coop controls but that doesn't always work iwth baseball but if it did it would be cool. Sounds like they worked hard on it.

amin915
amin915

i want to play it!!!

Nicaboy456
Nicaboy456

cute but i doubt it'll be good....

badgerhunter
badgerhunter

This game looks AWESOME!!! The way they talk about it makes it sound like it could be better than The BIGS. You could create teams with only your miis. I think that is a great way to make it a good game.

lord_nitsud
lord_nitsud

If I had a Wii, I'd consider buying. I love baseball, and I like the cartoony look.

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Nomad0404
Nomad0404

This looks like it could be a solid 8+ game, I sure hope so because I'd love to add it to my collection - however, it may never even walk upon England's mountains green.

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

something1257
something1257

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fax555241
fax555241

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Jo_Dal92
Jo_Dal92

This game looks pretty bad...

Manticore32
Manticore32

Its 2K, its Wii, its baseball. It will suck.

gozyaj
gozyaj

MBA + CUte Char + SImple Gameplay + Wii control!!!! = AWESOME

Yoshicon8
Yoshicon8

I want this game to come out. It looks good

icytower
icytower

This looks AWESOME, I really hope it turns out good.

TeamR
TeamR

For anyone who didnt know.....this is like....THE biggest baseball series in Japan. It's been huge over there for almost a decade. Don;'t let the looks fool you, on the ps2 this was probably the most solid baseball series to date. It'll be a winner, garunteed

PacoL250
PacoL250

This looks hilariously awesome. However, after being burned by The BIGS, I'm gonna hold off and wait for reviews. But I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for goodness. :D

kevo14
kevo14

LETS GO YANKEES~ lol

metaldeath87
metaldeath87

This game looks ill. It seems like the perfect combination of sim and quirky Japanese gameplay. I'm definitely watching this game.

Xavier_Draven
Xavier_Draven

All of my friends and my parent love the wii (I'm 30). It all depends on the person. I'll end up getting this. I need baseball on the wii

johnnych_cr
johnnych_cr

What About Soccer??....Just kidding.........lol

Gramsci9
Gramsci9

Does anyone know if this game will be launched in the UK - we don't generally get Baseballs games released (as far as I'm aware) and its about the only US-based sport that I can tollerate.

kca89
kca89

This actually sounds like it could be fun. I'll keep an eye out on it.

phubbadaman
phubbadaman

I'm a little turned off by no online play. I think the game looks awesome.

snowdemonz
snowdemonz

lol Those who never played the DS version of the same series, doesn't know how fun this series is. It may look childish, but its very entertaining since its an arcade type game. But it could just be since I'm into the arcade type games. I can't sit in front of a game as long as I use to. (it's the main reason why I haven't gotten Bioshock yet, don't feel like playing 2 hours, save game, come back the next day and trying to remember where I left off.)

ScaryMoviefan
ScaryMoviefan

what about twilight princess? that's not childish

lawsond
lawsond

I know I'll get flamed for this comment big time... Mostly everyone I know who "loves" the Wii is a child. My nieces and nephews love it. Then there's me and most of my friends...we like it but don't love it. There is a huge target audience and it is all about the kids... Hence, this game looks childish, why? Because most kids will eat this up in a second with it looking this way. It'll probably be fun for adults too.

hitmanlee
hitmanlee

@fmobliv06- They already made a baseball game .. I don't think they'd reconfigure the controls for the Wii. And about the game .. it looks very childish.

brian1213
brian1213

it looks like a childrens game....... i want 2k sports on the wii!!!!!

fmobliv06
fmobliv06

don't like baseball enough to want it. i do really want a mario baseball game for the wii. i think that would be awesome

miningguy
miningguy

dosnt look too bad but its ok

minoumaster
minoumaster

that game look stupid and have bad graphic

jeffwulf
jeffwulf

Hmmm, This acctually looks intriguing. I'll have to keep my eye on it. It acctually looks decent.

skine99
skine99

I'm a fan of Wii and Nintendo and just... ugh... We want quality games.

jonzilla_basic
jonzilla_basic

What the heck is this. AHHHHH!!! Man the Wii has the ability to be a dominant system, and these are the games that we are getting. Is this a VC game for the N64????

black_steel_4u
black_steel_4u

i like the wii and realy like base ball but come on this is way to kiddt i want a mlb2k8 go yankees!!!

zgreenwell
zgreenwell

I don't really like the ultra realistic baseball games, because, well... I'm not that good at baseball. This game actually is a little more my style. I think it has the potential to draw in a much larger audience than the typical baseball sim. Women for instance may like it better (I know my sister loves anything with sim relationships). This looks like a game that will really find a nice home on the Wii and may finally find its fit in North America.

ManOfTeal
ManOfTeal

Sweet, I can't wait to play this game.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Remove the MLB crap from it and it looks like it would be pretty sweet. Sorry, I'm not a big fan of 165 games a year with players that get paid too much and use too many steroids. And I'm extemely annoyed when I have to play a game that tries to simulate MLB baseball. Why not just baseball where you create your own league? People are too attached to rich and famous players and not to the sport... Still looks like this might be a lot of fun.

XiaNaphryz
XiaNaphryz

And why does the preview keep talking about "arcade" gameplay? The controls may be a bit simplistic, but the gameplay is closer to a sim title than an arcade title.

XiaNaphryz
XiaNaphryz

Ummm, this is also being released on the PS2 ya know, and is the best selling baseball series in Japan where it sold most on *gasp*...the PS2!

Paul_TheGreat
Paul_TheGreat

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]