Diabolical Pitch review
I was excited for Diabolical Pitch, though it doesn't take much to excite me when it's a game from the minds of Suda 51. Not to mention, I was really hoping for the Kinect to shine in this offbeat downloadable game. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to the expectations that I had for the game.
It's not all bad, however. Playing as McCallister, a pro pitcher who just won the game that makes their team go to the World Series. He suffers an injury to his arm, making him unable to pitch ever again. He comes across a website that speaks of a theme park that makes all wishes come true. The hesitant pro player drives there, only to be greeted by a giant-headed cow, and is given a prosthetic pitching arm and a quest to go through the entire park in order for him to get his wish. Crazy? Absolutely! But it's part of the charm that makes Suda 51 games so awesome.
Even the unique art style screams Suda 51. It actually slightly resembles the dark tone of Shadows of the Damned. Though where it falls apart is the actual gameplay. It's not terrible by any means; in fact, there were times where I actually enjoyed it. You're essentially tasked with pitching a baseball at various creepy 'dolls' that resemble animals, while also picking up powerups for extra cash that can be used to purchase additional powerups. You also have a super move, appropriately named the 'Diabolical Pitch,' which you can equip before each level and is activated by a certain stance.
These are always fun to watch and execute. To activate, you have to assume a certain stance that the game tells you to do. Depending on the currently equipped Diabolical Pitch, you then shoot it in various ways. One of them has you waiting until a slider lands on the words Awesome before you swing, or another has your arm turning into a cannon, allowing you to simply aim at your enemies and watch as they get shot to bits.
The main issue with the game is the aiming of your throws. If you just throw the ball, it basically goes where it wants to, though it does always go toward an enemy or an item. This is problematic when you want to get a big cash boost by throwing the ball at three of the same items (cherries, BAR's or lucky 7's) but you instead throw it in a separate direction, breaking your item combo. Also, the game doesn't always gauge which enemy is the most dangerous, having you aim at a doll further away, rather than the one who is just about to kill you.
The counterpoint to this is that you can use your other hand to aim. Aiming lets you lock on to enemies, effectively allowing you to score higher damage inducing headshots, or actually letting you pick what items you want to throw the ball at. Though this seems like an effective way of fixing the previously mentioned problem, the main reason for this not always working is the Kinect lag. Moving your hand across the screen always results in a slight lag, and when you have a doll cruising towards you in a high speed rollercoaster and knife in hand, every second counts.
The game also gets significantly harder as you progress, making you duck or jump across various objects thrown at you, or extend your hands to catch oncoming balls thrown at you. The problem is that the Kinect doesn't always register your movement, taking away half your health each time you get hit. The biggest issue is with the kicking. You're allowed a certain amount of kicks whenever an enemy gets too close to you, but three out of five times, the game never registered it. It obviously has nothing to do with your skill of jumping, ducking or kicking, rather with the shortcomings of the Kinect. Who do we blame however? The game or the technology that failed it?
The game otherwise, like I said, has a lot going for it. With the money you make after each area, you can purchase new Diabolical Pitches, upgrades, etc, in the form of baseball cards. A second player can even jump in with you and throw some baseballs at those terrifying animal dolls. The game doesn't get harder with an added player though. In fact, it gets way easier, so if you're planning on getting through this game with minimal headaches, play with a buddy.
Diabolical Pitch could have been a great Kinect game if it wasn't for the shoddy Kinect recognition. It's not entirely unplayable, however; there can be bursts of enjoyment had here, but with every moment of enjoyment comes a moment of frustration when you just wish the game recognized the actions that you're doing.