Review: Baseball Highlights 204508 Feb 2016 0
Review: Baseball Highlights 2045
Released 25 Jan 2016
I'm not much of a sports guy, but if I had to pick a favorite sport it would be baseball. In fact, up until a few years ago I was rather a hardcore fan, attending many games each season and listening to the local nine on the radio every single day. It got to the point where our African Grey started mimicking the between-inning commercial jingles.
Something happened in the last 5 years or so, however, where sitting through a 3+ hour baseball game became akin to visiting the dentist. It's not the game as much as it is the downtime. Thus, when I heard of Mike Fitzgerald's take on baseball that would allow complete games to finish in 5-10 minutes, I was intrigued. It didn't take long for me to snatch up the cardboard version and discover that I loved it.
Now Baseball Highlights 2045 is available on iPad and Android tablets. I've already spoiled that I love the underlying game, but does the app do the cardboard version justice? No more spoilers, you'll have to jump past the break to figure that out.
Baseball Highlights 2045's cardboard version succeeds due to its ability to distill all the good parts of a baseball game and leave the other 90% on the cutting room floor. This isn't a baseball simulation where each pitch is recorded and every out tallied. No, this game boils down an entire game of baseball into six cards, so that only the big plays and huge rallies are seen. 1-2-3 innings are a thing of the past, hell, innings themselves are a thing of the past. Instead of using outs to measure time, each game consists of each player playing six cards, twelve cards in total, and that's it.
Cards in Baseball Highlights do two things. The first is an instant action which fires off as soon as the card is played. These actions can be defensive, cancelling hits from your opponent, or offensive giving you baserunners or advancing baserunners already on the diamond. The second section of the card is the delayed action. This action will not fire off until the beginning of your next turn. Delayed actions are always hits: singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. Depending on the card, there might be a single hit or multiple hits. Some cards have no hits at all. When you play a card, the instant action fires off and then you take pawns representing the looming delayed action that will fire off next turn. For example, if the card I played has a delayed action indicting "single" "double", I would take two pawns and place them by home plate until the beginning of my next turn.
Why the delay? Because your opponent can now play a card with an instant action that blows up all your plans. Maybe their instant action says "cancel two hits". Those aforementioned pawns that would have gotten me a single and a double are now removed, and instead I'm left with bupkis when my turn begins. Maybe he's got a knuckleballer whose action states, "reduce all hits by one base" and suddenly my single and double are, instead, an out and a single.
With a little bit of luck, some of your runners will make it around the bases, and some of your opponent's won't. That's the game. It's incredibly simple, and yet it has a lot of depth mainly due to the card drafting. As you begin each series, you'll have a core team made up of unnamed Rookies and Veterans. Into this mix you can draft new players whose powers far exceed your starting nine. Want an easier game? Hold a draft before the first game, which will allow you to add three powerhouses to your lineup, and then draft more after each game in the series. Want a real challenge? Have no draft before the series begins and watch as you can't even slow down, much less stop, the murderers' row that the computer has put together.
The app manages to give you all of this information and puts the gameplay front and center. In fact, it kind of bonks you over the head with it. The UI isn't graceful, it's functional. Graphics aren't gussied up for the digital version, they're what you'd see if you opened the box on your tabletop. There's no campaigns or stats, just a portal that allows you to play Baseball Highlights 2045 whenever you want. There's not even an AI, but the game does have a solitaire variant which feels an awful lot like an AI, and routinely hands me my cap. In fact, I've yet to win a series in the solitaire game, even using the Easy difficulty.
Baseball Highlights 2045 might be the most utilitarian app ever made, and yet it works. This is like playing Baseball Highlights on your tabletop, and as I think I've mentioned, playing Baseball Highlights 2045 is a good thing.
The app has both the solitaire mode and pass-and-play mulitplayer. Pass-and-play works well enough with warnings to pass the tablet to your opponent before any cards are inadvertently revealed. Otherwise, the game plays similar to the solo mode.
Baseball Highlights 2045 isn't the shiniest app on the App Store, but it sets out to do exactly what it intended: allow us to play BH2045 on our tablets. It's a fantastic game, even for those of us who aren't big sports or baseball fans, and having it at my beck and call is a good thing. Developer Peter Kossits is already working on adding more polish, a true AI, and more. Sure, those would be nice, but I'm pretty happy with the package I currently have in my hands, other than the alarming lack of peanuts and Cracker Jack, that is.