I miss the old days of sports video games. I’m now well into my 30s, but during the lazy Summer days of my youth, my friends and I would spend massive amounts of time beating the heat by lounging about indoors with the air-conditioner blasting and Nintendo controllers in our hands. The thing that was so alluring about sports games back then was that game developers weren’t afraid to make their games cute, and we weren’t afraid to play them if they were. Most sports games of yesteryear lacked the detailed realism of the games of today, which was obviously due to the limitations of the hardware at the time. Yet, because of these restrictions, developers were forced to become creative and took their designs down various courses, often towards the endearing end of art direction. RBI Baseball on the Nintendo Entertainment System is exceptionally more adorable than MLB 08: The Show on the Playstation 3, for instance.
This past year U.S. gamers were treated to a gem of a baseball game called MLB Power Pros which was published by 2K Sports, developed by Konami, and released for both the Playstation 2 and the Nintendo Wii. And, be still my old-school heart, the game was really cute! On first glance, the MLB Power Pros’ heartwarmingly stylized characters might look like they were created with kids in mind, but to anyone who took the time to sit down and play the game found that—surprise!—it was just as deep and satisfying as any of the more realistic-looking competitors on the market. In fact, of all baseball games to have hit store shelves last year, I consider MLB Power Pros to be the best all-around game available for baseball fans.
When one considers its heritage, it comes as no surprise that the MLB Power Pros series is so stellar. Even though only a couple of Power Pros games have made their way to American shores thus far, the series has had a very long history in Japan, dating back to the early 1990s. Over the years, Konami has had time to hone the series into something truly special, and annual releases of the Power Pros games are snatched up with a similar enthusiasm to what the Madden football games see in the U.S.. In short, Power Pros might be a newcomer in the United States, but its long-running history in Japan has allowed it to blossom into a real contender for being the best video game baseball series of all time.
Thankfully, MLB Power Pros was enough of a success that Konami and 2K Sports decided to put out a new version this year. In terms of core gameplay and visuals, nothing much has changed from the previous version, so players who own last year’s iteration can probably hold off on buying the new version without losing much beyond roster updates and a couple new and improved game modes. Granted, one of the new game modes, MLB Life, is pretty nifty, but I don’t believe it alone is enough to warrant a new purchase. Still, for serious fans of the first game, not to mention anyone new to the world of MLB Power Pros this year’s release is a simply a delight and a great place to jump into the series.
MLB Power Pros 2008 offers a very customizable experience to suit players of all skill levels and expertise. The batting and pitching interface, for instance, can be simplified to make it easier for novice players to get hits or strike out opponents, but more seasoned gamers can add some much-appreciated challenge and depth as desired. In addition, fielding can also be tweaked, with gamers having the ability to let the computer AI handle everything or, conversely, do it all themselves. Learning to control the on-screen action takes a little getting used to, but before long even beginning gamers will have little trouble hitting line drives, stealing bases, tossing strikes, throwing out runners, and calling time out to substitute an exhausted pitcher with a reliever from the bullpen. Put simply, the game is easy to jump right into and enjoy for players of all experience levels.
MLB Power Pros 2008 features enough content to keep baseball fans busy until next season. Ranging from pick-up-and play modes such as exhibition games and homerun derby to more in-depth experiences such as seasons, the role playing game-like Success mode, and the all-new MLB Life mode, there is something here for everybody. Particularly worth noting are the Success and MLB Life modes, both of which thrust players into the life of a professional player. Success mode allows gamers to create a player then track his career from his pre-glory days all the way through to major league greatness. MLB Life mode, on the other hand, allows gamers to take on the persona of their favorite major league player and live out the fantasy of being that player, even delving into life management, such as handling the demands of family life! There really is nothing else like it in any other baseball game.
There will be some gamers that take one look at MLB Power Pros 2008’s visuals and dismiss it as a game for kids. Those people will be missing out on what I feel is the best baseball game available on the market. It may lack the bells and whistles of a game like MLB 08: The Show, but I truly feel MLB Power Pros 2008 is just as deep and enjoyable as any of its competitors. And, more importantly, it has more charm and heart than any other baseball game available. No matter what type of baseball experience gamers are looking for, MLB Power Pros 2008 has all the bases covered and provides more than enough content to keep players busy for months to come. I haven’t particularly cared too much for baseball video games in recent years because nothing has matched the fun of the baseball games I enjoyed during my youth. However, that has all changed now that Konami and 2K Sports have seen fit to bring what is arguably the best baseball series ever over to the U.S. MLB Power Pros 2008 is a definite winner that is highly recommended and worthy of being in any player’s video game collection.
MLB Power Pros 2008 (2K Sports) is available for the Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS.
Mister Raroo went to high school with Dex and jbox back in the early 1990s. Instead of paying as much attention as they should have during class, they spent their days drawing comics and making fun of a classmate with bug eyes. One time jbox made her cry, which was kind of mean. Mister Raroo and his wife have published a video game fanzine called "Game Time With Mister Raroo" and he currently writes a column of the same name for GameSetWatch. He lives in El Cajon, CA with his wife, son, and pets. You may contact Mister Raroo by e-mail: email@example.com