Home Run High Review: Slow Pitch Hit

If you’ve ever fantasized about coaching a high school baseball team to glory, then this is the perfect game for you. In your very own pixel art Bad News Bears, Kairosoft has given you the opportunity of a lifetime to …

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If you’ve ever fantasized about coaching a high school baseball team to glory, then this is the perfect game for you. In your very own pixel art Bad News Bears, Kairosoft has given you the opportunity of a lifetime to bring a ragtag bunch of misfits from the bottom of the pack to tournament glory.

Home Run High Instruction Screen
Give your team instructions from the dugout in Home Run High.

As coach, you don’t get to jump into the action of the games themselves (though if action is what you’re looking for there’s no shortage of options with both MLB Perfect Inning Live and MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 available), but you do get to shout instructions from the sidelines. The extent to which your players listen to you varies, just like with real teenagers, but it’s the effort that counts.

Your role doesn’t stop in the dugout at game time. On a day-to-day basis, you’re responsible for planning team practices and special drills for individual players. Never forgetting that these are student athletes, you need to build a dynasty while making sure that you don’t tire the players out too badly, leave them enough time to study and emphasize the importance of going to class. It’s a delicate balancing act. As a simulation game, Home Run High also rewards the patient. The harder you try to rush things along, the slower your actual progress will be.

Home Run High Gameplay
Players gather ahead of practice in Home Run High.

One issue with the Home Run High is the way time works. There seems to have been some confusion between months and days in the design of the game. In many ways ‘months’ in game time act similar to days (roughly 24 hours in length, progression from day to night), though it’s also possible to schedule multiple games for the same ‘month’, something generally not possible for high school teams unless it’s a formally organised tournament. Once you get used to it (admitting that there’s a certain willing suspension of disbelief), the game generally flows quite smoothly, though it can test your patience if you’re the kind of person who’s motivated by instant (or even near-instant) gratification.

Anyone familiar with Kairosoft-style simulation games will know more or less what they’re getting themselves into, but newbies should be warned that even early in the tutorial stages, waiting up to a minute between instructions can feel a little arduous for the impatient. If this short wait is already stressing you out, you’re going to want to do yourself a favor and choose to watch only the highlights of the team’s game. Sure you miss the fan cheer boost and the ability to call out instructions during the game, but it shaves 15 to 20 minutes off what is essentially watching and waiting time.

Home Run High Highlights Mode
Speed things along slightly by simulating gameplay in highlights mode.

In the performance department, the game runs heavy, so if you’ve got an older device you should probably expect some sluggishness. Newer devices bring better performance, though the game still really brings the heat (literally). Great if your hands are cold, probably not so great for your device. This isn’t unusual when it comes to mobile games by any stretch, but might be something you want to consider when choosing the device(s) on which you’ll install Home Run High.

The 16-bit graphics are solid. They’re high-res enough to make the game workable (a baseball game where you can’t ever see the ball is never great), but not so high-res that it surpasses what you’d get from an early SNES outing. The music matches the game’s retro chic vibe, so if you love upbeat early-1990s MIDI tunes you’ll be in heaven.

Home Run High Batting Practice
Select different practice types (batting, basic, defence) to ensure your team is as strong as possible.

The game looks cool, sounds like highly-concentrated fun, and if you really like simulation games or just the idea of coaching potentially the worst high school baseball team ever, High School High will likely be something you’ll enjoy. However if you’re not someone that can really get behind the slow-sim dimension of the game, you might want to skip this one.

The good

    The bad

      70 out of 100