Sega Play! Baseball isn’t quite a home run
Sports games are continuing to make their way to Facebook, but up until recently there hasn’t been much for baseball fans to get excited about. Sega Play! Baseball fills this void with a decidedly casual experience, that seems designed to appeal to those aren’t fans of the sport as well. It may be a little too casual, with not enough focus on the actual game of baseball, but Sega Play! Baseball is still a fun experience overall.
The game is all about managing a team. You don’t actually participate in the games, but instead train your team to make sure they have the best possible chance of winning. When you enter into a game you have the option to either watch how it unfolds, or to simply skip ahead and check out the score. Since you’ll be playing a lot of games, and the animations last quite a while, chances are you’ll be skipping ahead most of the time.
As you play you’ll earn both cash and experience, which can be used to improve your squad. Winning games earns you more, and once you hit level 10 you’ll be able to participate in the pro league. You’ll be spending your money on training sessions for your players, which will improve various characteristics like speed, power, and fielding. You’ll unlock more of these training drills as you proceed, though which ones you choose requires careful consideration. This is because some of the drills will not only boost one skill, but reduce another as well. You’ll also earn new players as you progress and be able to tweak things like batting order to your liking.
In a strange twist, the training is also only temporary. Every month the game resets your players’ skill levels, forcing you start from scratch. It’s an interesting idea that allows you to make different decisions each month, but at the same time it’s very frustrating to essentially lose a good deal of your progress.
There’s also a heavy emphasis on customization. You can buy new outfits for your players, but most of your money will probably be spent on upgrading your stadium. Everything from the grass to the bases to the rear fences can be customized, and there are plenty of over-the-top options thrown in. If you want to play with a volcano and flying dinosaurs in the background, you can do that. Initially most of the items will appear to be quite expensive, but once you reach the pros the money flows pretty freely.
All of these customization options are great, and are further amplified by the game’s excellent cartoon-style presentation, but they also amplify the game’s main weakness. We spent most of our time with the game upgrading our stadium because the actual baseball elements of Sega Play! Baseball simply aren’t that compelling. They’re a little too simple, and the fact that your progress eventually resets makes things even worse. It’s still a fun, lighthearted diversion, but for a game with baseball in the title you just wish their was a little more of it.