Oct 10, 2007
If baseball is a game of inches, what then is MLB Power Pros, a game of fate, love, loss, friendship, loan sharks and pizza delivery? It's probably the most creative sports game to be released in some time, and a nice addition to any baseball fan's library.
Developed by Konami, Power Pros is the Americanized version of Jikkyou Pawafuru Major League 2, the madly popular Japanese baseball game. As you can see from the oh-so-cute player models that lack legs, Power Pros is targeted toward the kids, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty for the baseball fan that doesn't hold birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese.
First, there's the control, a perfectly-simple setup that's a throwback to classics like Baseball Stars and RBI Baseball. To hit, you simply aim a reticule over the pitch and swing. To pitch, simply aim and throw. Easy, right? It's amazing how such a simple formula continues to work great 20 years later. The important thing is that control is easy, and diving to rob a base hit is just as satisfying as it is in MLB 2K7. Batters can choose between a power swing and contact swing depending on the situation. Pitchers that give up big innings will get rattled and start to see stars, also known as Armando Benitez mode. Pitchers that are tired will huff and puff before the next pitch, like David Wells after 20 sit-ups. The gameplay and atmosphere is perfect for the kids as well as us grown ups that love to play with our favorite pros.
Yes, your favorite pros are included and with a surprising amount of detail for player models that look like little more than LEGO people. Dontrelle Willis has his high-kick delivery. Gary Sheffield has his wrists-of-fury batting stance. Jason Giambi slowly points his bat to right field and stares down the pitcher. Batters will look back in dismay at the umpire after a questionable strike call. Konami does a fine job with the MLB license in terms of both players and the inclusion of each big league ballpark.
For what looks like such a little game, Power Pros is very deep. Along with your standard exhibition and home run derby modes, the game also features an excellent season mode. You'll jump in as your favorite team's GM and immediately start making decisions critical to team success (like moving Barry Zito to the bullpen). There's a lot to do here, too much for the average eight year old, so your kindly secretary will walk you through everything, even explaining what the initials MLB actually stand for.
After the season mode, you have Success, a creative story mode that lets you create a player and guide him through college to a pro contract. At first, you will only control your player during his at bats or pitching appearances. As you work your way up to team captain in season two, you control the final two innings against your archrival. To up the pressure, big league scouts are in attendance and you need to get their attention. Like most college players though, baseball is the easy part. Our created player had to deal with a disapproving father, had an affair with a cute mathematician, joined a fraternity, borrowed money from the mafia, delivered pizza to make ends meet, and barely passed his midterms. And that was just freshman year.
As you can tell, this is not your average baseball game. That may be what makes MLB Power Pros such a refreshing change of pace. While hardcore baseball fans may be turned off by its cutesy style, MLB Power Pros is fun, and that's what matters. Give it a swing.