MLB Power Pros Review
If there's one sport that I feel overly connected with, it is baseball. Yeah, I enjoy football, but I haven't been a big fan of the sport until five or so years ago. Baseball, though, I've been following for over 20 years now. I played some T-Ball when I was younger, my brother played baseball for awhile and, needless to say, we've picked up a ton of baseball games over the years. From the original Nintendo baseball game to MLB 07 The Show, we've played them all. So, when I saw MLB Power Pros, I was intrigued to say the least. A bit of research on the series shows that it is popular in Japan under a different name. So, 2K must have figured they'd make use of their MLB license and bring the game over to the states.
So, like a lot of games that come from Japan, the most striking aspect of Power Pros is the graphical style. Instead of going for the realistic look and feel that most every other baseball game has gone for, Power Pros uses a traditional super-deformed player style. There's a ton of character in the faces for the players but, naturally, they aren't going to bear as striking of a resemblance to the pros that you're familiar with, at least not in facial features – there are a surprising amount of animations, though. Considering this was a Wii/PS2 game, the style works pretty well. It is smooth and provides a solid contrast to what is currently out there.
Now on to something else that is obviously important to gamers – does Power Pros put the Wiimote to use? Well, you can use it occasionally – swinging and pitching in remote mode are handled with the Wiimote. Thankfully, 2K saw fit to allow use of the Nunchuk to get an experience similar to that of current baseball offerings. The Wiimote only mode isn't all that bad – heck, you can even drop down a bunt by holding the controller in a similar way to how you would hold a real bat when bunting. In the end, though, I did prefer the classic style of control the Nunchuk bought. Those after a deeper Wii Sports baseball experience, though, will definitely find it with Power Pros.
Staying on the subject of controls, Power Pros is one of the most simplistic baseball games I've played in ages. You have a swing button, a throw button, and can control your runners. A nice addition is that you don't have to hold a trigger button for a power swing – you just toggle it with the B button. Many games that use the hold-a-button method place the button awkwardly, making a power swing harder to do. Instead, Power Pros makes it harder by shrinking the sweet spot on your bat by a significant amount. Those used to some of the PS1/N64 generation of baseball games will be familiar with the hitting system used here.
Also, I really enjoyed this pitching system. This is something that seems more modern in its approach – you'll pick a pitch by moving the thumbstick in a direction and hitting whatever button you have set to pitch. You then have to move the pitch to its location as pressing the button starts the pitch. This works pretty well and there are options available to allow the cursor to determine the break point of the pitch or the final location of the pitch – much like most every other baseball game out there on the market today.
One aspect of the game, though, stands above all others – the Success mode. Sure, there's a season mode, exhibition games and Home Run Derbies, but Success mode is a breath of fresh air to sports gamers. Success mode guides you through a player's three years of college ball until they make it to the pros. However, this isn't like modes that have appeared in previous games, since it places a huge focus on the life of the player instead of just playing baseball. You'll have to balance training time to improve your stats, a girlfriend, school work, a job and other things that pop up. You can actually fail at this mode, too – it takes around 30-45 minutes to play through, depending on how some things go.
These decisions aren't 100% up to you, either – you have what the game calls the “Fate Card” system. You'll have a few cards that can pop up whenever your player has to make a decision, be it something simple like going to eat or something big like becoming the team captain. The kicker is that these cards are picked randomly from one of four types – Yes, No, Challenge and Marvin. Yes and no are obvious as to what they do, challenge can be good or bad dependent on the situation and Marvin deflects the situation to your best buddy, Marvin. Using one of these cards will bring up a new random card – you can end up having four No cards available, so you have to be careful. Oddly enough, this adds a good bit of depth to the mode – sometimes, using a No card on a small decision can shuffle in a Yes card for a bigger decision you have coming up.
So, then, just what audience is MLB Power Pros trying to get at? On one hand, you have a 10-season mode where you can control just as much as you can in most other baseball games, in addition to seeing an absolutely nutty amount of stats. On the other hand, you have the Success mode, which will appeal to another subset of gamer. Then, on a third hand that very few of us have (unless you are Goro of Mortal Kombat fame), there is the graphical style of the game. Really, I think 2K was exceptionally smart to bring this game over to the Wii along with the PS2 – you've got something that the casual purchasers of the Wii will get into while having something that sim-heads can get into (if they can push past the graphical style. Overall, Power Pros is one of the most complete baseball games out there and, provided the super-deformed character looks don't bug you, there's a lot of fun to be had here. This is one of the most “complete” games on the Wii to date – and at only 40 bucks instead of the normal 50 dollar price point.