For several years now, Baseball Superstars has stood as the standard in not only baseball games, but for all sports games on the iOS platform. Gamevil never seems to let its foot off the gas pedal, and each new version brings new layers of depth and function to steal hours of our time again and again. Academics and smart folks say that a look at the past is the biggest predictor of the future, and in the case of Baseball Superstars 2012, we couldn’t agree more.
For sports fans not familiar with the Baseball Superstars franchise, the games have baseball simulation gameplay, with a cutesy aesthetic similar to Hot Shots Golf, and the absurdity and depth you would typically see in a japanese role-playing game. Like it’s predecessors, Baseball Superstars 2012 is a cinch to pick up and extremely difficult to put down. Designed solely for touchscreen and motion inputs, this game never feels like its being shoehorned in a place it doesn’t belong. The only concession that the game makes for the sake of function is that the fielding is automatic. We can't complain about that, though, because it makes sense with the fast-paced action and the lack of a real joystick.
The batting and hitting mechanics are as smooth as ever, but this year they've added ways to bat and pitch with finer control. This means it goes past simply timing your swing or tapping where you want your pitches to go. “Tilt-target hitting” is the marketing label for the batting, and it’s awesome. Besides timing your swing with a tap, you can move your batter in the box by tilting your iPhone or iPad. The mechanic is very intuitive and adds a good deal of depth. Pitching has also seen some love with the “Touch Motion Pitching” system. Whether it’s swiping right for a Circle Change or applying a quick double tap to throw a fastball, it just works. The length and accuracy of your swipe affects the pitch quality, and we noticed the umpires can be a little hot and cold on the strike zone, as they should be.
Modes have never been lacking in the Baseball Superstars series. and this year ushers in several new additions, starting with network play. We’ve commented on the lack of true competitive multiplayer in a number of reviews for the franchise, and we’re happy they finally listened. Over several Wi-Fi games, we found the action to be flawless, with zero lag and the games typically running about 20 minutes for a 9 inning game. Proper stat tracking with Game Center achievements and Facebook integration shows Gamevil took the time to do things the right way.
One issue we have is that there isn’t any cloud saving on your progress. So while Baseball Superstars 2012 is a universal application, you can’t continually progress between multiple iOS devices. Even if multiplayer is not your chew of tobacco, the single player modes are as dizzying as you’d expect. Exhibition mode and Super Players are still as ridiculous as ever. HomeRun Derby, pitching duels, and My Player scenarios that follow you as a batter or pitcher over the course of 10 virtual years all make an appearance. Each mode and game earns you points, usable to upgrade your players or unlock content.
Aye aye, coach.
Speaking of points, they take time to accumulate. Since the game is free to play, you’ll likely want to invest in points to jumpstart your progress, or play the game compulsively and frequently to keep up with the joneses. Based on how refined and tuned the free core game is, we can envision Gamevil doing very well with die hard players investing in their progress.
With bright and bold graphics, Baseball Superstars 2012 looks terrific on a Retina screen. We thought the other games shined visually, but this version is simply next-level in comparison. Everything looks high-res, fluid, and bursting with cute charm.
Excuse us if this seems like deja vu, us salivating and praising another Baseball Superstars game. If you want quick hitting action, look no further. If you want a deep and enjoyable baseball game with some simulation sensibilities, you've got it. And if you're especially interested in a smooth social and multiplayer experience, this game has you covered. There is literally something here for everyone in Baseball Superstars 2012.