TOKYO--Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 13 for the PlayStation 2 wasn't the first Konami baseball game we covered today, but it was certainly the more straightforward of the bunch. The series has been using the same cartoonish player models and lighthearted approach of other Konami baseball games (such as the Power Pro Kun Pocket series), but we enjoyed the slightly more realistic feel of this game a lot.
Like Power Pro Kun 9 for the Nintendo DS, Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 13 features real teams and players from Japan's professional baseball league. Unlike the DS game, however, Jikkyou is meant for a slightly older crowd. Cartoon graphics and cute animations aside, this game is more sophisticated in terms of control, and it features a much quicker pace than the other game. As a result, we found ourselves whiffing on fastball pitches from the opposition and having to think fast on our feet when the other team went for steals and hit-and-run plays early on in the game.
Jikkyou's controls are as simple and straightforward as you could hope for. Hitting the ball is controlled with the press of a button, and you aim your batting icon in the strike zone by moving the left analog stick. Once you've made contact with the ball, running the bases is simple: Each of the four face buttons on the PS2 dual analog controller are tied to a base, so if you want to run from first to second, you hit the triangle button; if you want to go from second to third, you press the square button, and so on.
When playing defense, pitching is a similarly simple affair--you press X to throw the ball off the mound, and then you can change the direction of the ball in midair by pushing in any direction with the analog stick. If the ball is put into play, an illuminated circle will show up in the field to give you an indication of where it will land (and hopefully help you get your fielder in position to make a play). Similar to how base-running works, throwing to the various bases is as easy as pressing the button associated with that base--first base is the circle button, second base is the triangle button, and so on.
We liked the aggressive artificial intelligence that was demonstrated in the game. The AI wasn't afraid to manufacture some runs early by bunting and getting a runner in scoring position, and it wasn't shy about taking advantage of meatball pitches on our part, as well. This may look and feel like a game for kids, but it plays a smart game of baseball, even if the player models don't really have legs. Though there's practically no chance of this game coming to the States, we enjoyed spending a few minutes with it today on the show floor and look forward to seeing how the series progresses in future entries.