Play ball on Facebook with Homerun Heroes
It’s time to play a little baseball with the Game Ventures developed Facebook title Homerun Heroes. A mix of the common team management style of social sports play and more twitch-based reactions, the game is not so much a true baseball app as it is more a hybrid of homerun derby and the actual sport. Incorporating more unique aspects of play than most social sports games, Homerun Heroes is more interesting than most, but other than this novelty, it lacks any real reward for play.
Upon starting the game, you take control of a team of randomly named players and are immediately thrown into your first game. Like many casual baseball apps, the play consists primarily of batting with fielding only done by the opposing team. The objective is to score a required number of runs, which varies from game to game, before the opponent makes an allotted number of outs. It all follows the most basic rules of baseball such as catching a fly ball, throwing to a base before the runner gets there, and getting strike outs.
Batting is where the real game comes into the picture. You are presented with a strike zone and are capable of controlling the position of a virtual bat. When a pitch is thrown, it’s final location will appear somewhere in or around the strike zone, and you merely have to click that spot before the pitch passes your avatar. You have about a second to react. It takes some getting used to, and might be frustrating at first, but it becomes easy enough after a while. Once basic batting is understood, you can then begin to change up you strategy with bunts and power swings by clicking a digital directional pad.
Whenever contact is made, players will automatically run to whatever base is next on the diamond and stop. However, you can choose to try for extra bases. The decision must be made quickly though, as once a player begins running, they are susceptible to becoming an out. There is no way to return to a base once it has been left.
In between matches comes the moderate team management mechanics. This presents itself as buyable equipment such as bats, helmets, gloves, and so on. Each one will boost different stats such as contact or power, but the game isn’t terribly clear on exactly how much these statistics affect players. Still, most are fairly logical. The most vague comes in the form of training, which are exercises that improve your team’s form. They take anywhere from 30 seconds to several hours to complete, with the longer ones increasing form by a greater margin. The exact benefits are unclear, but it obviously boosts player performances in games.
The social end of Homerun Heroes is a bit weak in that it is one of the few social sports games that doesn’t appear to allow you to go up against other random users. It is possible to challenge friends that play though. This consists of playing a match against them and trying to score as many runs as possible before receiving an out. An asynchronous game, the challenged friend is then tasked to beat that and the challenger can taunt them until they play. Other than this, social aspects include the standard Facebook wall postings of any achievements earned in-game.
The real problem with Homerun Heroes is that there is no real incentive to keep playing. Once you get used to batting it can be a bit enjoyable to play, but there’s nothing deeper than that. There is no significant reward for playing other than some buyable equipment that disappears shortly after it is used. There’s not even so much as a player-based leaderboard to climb. At best, there are different leagues in which to progress through, but the play becomes repetitive and there is little gratification in defeating nameless, non-player teams.
The central concept to Homerun Heroes isn’t bad, and the batting mechanic is decent. That said, the management side of the game is a bit standard and the social elements leave a little to be desired. Namely, the biggest loss to this is the apparent lack of challenging other random users and climbing leaderboards; which actually contributes to the lack of gratification and reward when playing. With that in mind, there is nothing inherently wrong with Homerun Heroes, it just needs a bit more added to it.