First ImpressionsAll-Star Baseball 2002

The Nintendo 64's best baseball franchise is making the transition to the GameCube. Get all the details on Acclaim's baseball simulation in our preview.

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Acclaim's All-Star Baseball series was exclusive to Nintendo systems until this year's 2002 iteration for the PlayStation 2. But Acclaim knows it has a good thing going with Nintendo-owning baseball fans and is bringing its next-generation baseball franchise to the GameCube to satisfy this fan base. If the PlayStation 2 version is any indication, All-Star Baseball 2002 for the GC should satisfy both the baseball sim fanatic and fans of home run-infested arcade hardball games.

Following in the tradition of the Nintendo 64 versions of All-Star Baseball, the 2002 version includes a variety of gameplay modes. There are full 162 game seasons, and the amount of times you play each team may be adjusted. You may change the length of the seasons and win awards for your accomplishments such as the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and MVP. Aside from the in-depth season mode, you may set up tournaments, play head-to-head in exhibition mode, learn to swing for the fence in the home run derby, play an all-star game, jump straight to the World Series, or head for batting practice. You may even create up to 25 players and sign them up for any team you choose. In the team management menu, you may trade or draft players, sign free agents, and track statistics in 44 different categories.

All-Star Baseball 2002 includes all 30 MLB teams and ballparks. There's also a legends team made up of Hall of Famers like Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, and Reggie Jackson. You may choose to play the game with simulation or arcade batting. In the simulation-batting mode, you must line up the batting cursor and time the swing. The arcade mode asks you simply to time your swing with the incoming pitch. Like in the Nintendo 64 versions, there are two ways to swing at each pitch. If you choose the power option, it's more difficult to make contact, but doing so increases the chances of an extra-base hit. Using the normal swing option makes it easier to make contact but more difficult to knock one over the wall. Each pitcher has his real repertoire of throws, and the ball may be moved after it leaves the pitcher's hand at the expense of his stamina rating.

The PlayStation 2 version of All-Star Baseball 2002 features some stunning graphics, and the GameCube version should look even better. The majority of players have their real faces mapped onto their polygonal models, and the dugouts are filled with rendered players. Small details like players getting up and throwing in the bullpen when called upon and more than 130 batting stances help keep ASB 2002's visual presentation on pace with its simulation-style gameplay. There are 50 different pitching animations included in the game to assure that each pitcher's release is accurately replicated.

All-Star Baseball 2002 is the first and only simulation-style baseball game announced for the GameCube. This should ensure that it gets a strong look from consumers when it's released around the GameCube's launch this November.

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