Little League World Series 2008ESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer: Black Lantern Studios
Touch Screen Compatible
Wireless DS Multi-Card Play
The Little League World Series is an event that gets extensive coverage in the United States. It is even shown on some of the major networks (e.g. ABC or ESPN) on TV. So I guess that it was only a matter of time before it got its own video game. The recently released Little League World Series 2008 from Activision has seen a bit of time in my DS, and after my time with it I would have to say there are some really innovative features in the game.
Little League World Series 2008 is a very colorful and well animated game given the theme and nature of the content. I would classify the style as a mix of cartoony and somewhat realistic. The characters are definitely not real looking, but they do not have that Power-Pro look to them. Either. They are cute but yet have some semblance of young baseball player. I guess you could say given that the game is based on youngsters playing baseball, the visuals on the DS really do match the game’s theme.
As I mentioned the animations are not that bad at all. They are not over the top, but they are not by any means horrible either. The stadiums look the part, although they are simple. They match the characters as they are cute looking too. The developers have made sure your views for pitching and batting are different, and when the ball is hit into the field, the game pulls back for a playable view of the field. Overall the game is pleasing to the eye and there is really nothing for me to complain about in this department.
Audio manages to compliment the game in many ways. There is ample use of voice from the umpires “Strike” to his “YOUR OUT”. There is also a brief announcement between field changes to let you know where you are in the game (e.g. bottom of the 3rd). In terms of the sound effects for baseball, the sound of the aluminum bat to the slap of the leather glove, all is there and pretty well represented. There is even crowd noise that manages to cheer a really good play. During the game you will even notice some organ music playing now and then to try to further the whole “at the baseball game” feeling. If there is any complaint in this area it would be that the sounds are solid, but they just are not spectacular and don’t add as much excitement as I had hoped.
Now I have to admit that I am not a huge baseball fan, and definitely not a huge Little League World Series follower. One should expect that I would be though as my Father-in-Law coached his local baseball team through the ranks and represented Team Canada in the big event. So when it came time for me to review this title, I thought “what the heck, let’s give it a go”.
Right off the hop the first thing that caught my eye was the amount of modes one can play in this game. Although there is no season mode, as the Little League World Series is a one time tournament, there is still a lot to do in this game. There is the World Series tournament itself where you play in your bracket for a chance to earn a birth in the final game for the big prize. There is an Exhibition mode where you can play a quick game against the computer AI or a friend who may own another copy of the game. There is a Skill Challenge mode where you test your batting and pitching skills in four different activities such as home run tourney, HORSE, tic-tac-toe and bowling. This mode can also be played with one or two players. There is a training mode that allows you to learn how to bat, pitch and field. Finally there is a viewing mode called Baseball Pins where you can view the pins (rewards for play) that you earn. All in all there is a fair bit to keep you busy.
One of the biggest things I noticed about this game is how everything is controlled by the touch screen and stylus. This includes pitching, batting, fielding and running bases. It took me only a few games to get used to it and once I did I was able perform all my needed tasks quite effectively. Let me explain how to do each:
You have one of four choices of pitches available (fastball, curveball, change up and slider). You just tap on the icon with your stylus, and then tap on the screen where you want the ball to go (inside or outside the strike zone). Next, to throw you pitch, you need to follow the pitch path with the stylus on the touch screen from the start to the end. The faster you do such the more velocity your pitch will have. Should you go a little outside the designated path, your pitch will not be as accurate.
You only need to drag the stylus across the strike zone to swing the bat. Of course you need to start on the side that the batter is actually on too. You are able to angle your hit up or down and you can dictate the balls direction by swinging a little early or a little late. Should you wish to bunt you only need to hold the stylus within the strike zone on the touch screen.
Continue to Page 2