reviews\ Aug 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Little League World Series Baseball 2009 - NDS - Review

Little League World Series Baseball 2009 is a surprising game. Even though it may be extremely broken, and overly easy (even for a game aimed at young audiences) I kept finding myself having a heck of a lot of fun with it. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an accurate simulation of baseball, and yet it still captured my attention, and ensured that I kept playing long after the World Series was won.

LLWS is a relatively simple game. All of the most complex parts of the game, the things that would be most difficult to control, have been excluded. That means there is not much actual base running or fielding. For the most part those things are handled for you. The rest of the game, however, is handled well with the touch screen, and I came away impressed with how fluidly the controls were conceived and implemented into gameplay.

For instance, to take a swing, you flick the stylus across the screen in the direction you want the ball to go. This makes a line on the screen. The better the line, the better the hit. This is one of the most fun batting systems I've played on any system. It's a lot more interactive and engaging than many of the systems implemented in the big name annual baseball games.

Pitching is done by tracing the line of the pitch, which is represented on screen by a graphic. Apparently, the better your tracing job, the better the pitch will be. Although I never saw much evidence of this. Pitching is pretty atrocious, as it seems extremely inaccurate and it never seemed to matter how well I traced the line.

The coolest features that LLWS has to offer, though, take place outside of the games entirely. By achieving different feats during games you'll earn badges like achievements. Before each game, you select three of the badges you've won previously and receive a certain power up that you can activate during the game. Strategic use of these can lead to big effects, and many of them are completely overpowered. I once activated two different effects in one inning: one that drained the opponents pitching ability, and one that buffed my own batting ability. I scored 56 runs that inning. It's pretty clear that this game was in desperate need of more play testing and balancing before it was shipped.

Those types of effects are particularly emphasized during the World Series tournament where your personal team has been leveled up to the point of pure ridiculousness. Every time you win a game you get a certain amount of points to level up your players. And a little bit of strategy can quickly lead you to start winning games by 60-70 runs without much effort.

Exhibition games offer little to be excited about, and interest in those games wanes quickly. However, the game shines when it allows you to stick with a group of players and monitor their progress. The additional ability to level up these characters makes the attachment even greater. It's only because of the ability to monitor their progress that makes the ease of play forgivable. I also found it an odd, yet thoughtful addition on the developers part to include female players on all teams. A bit strange, but welcome nonetheless.

The graphics in LLWS are of a cartoony sort that fits really well with its kid-friendly theme, and youngsters will definitely respond to the atmosphere created by the game. The sound, on the other hand is absolutely atrocious, and I suspect most people will find themselves playing with the sound off entirely to save themselves the annoyance. It's essentially one really grainy song playing the entire time on a ten-second loop, along with what I think was supposed to be a constant crowd roar, but sounds more like constant annoying static buzzing in my ear.

All told, this is a pretty solid package that will be attractive to the young baseball player. Especially if he/she is young enough to find challenge in the game. The intuitive and fun controls bring life to what I feared would be another tired retread, but found out was actually a fun return to little league roots.

Review Scoring Details for Little League World Series Baseball 2009

Gameplay: 8.2
Though it's not exactly a perfectly faithful representation of baseball, it still manages to be a lot of fun due to the great touch-screen implementation.

Graphics: 6.3
Pretty decent, and they serve their job relatively well. However, most characters look identical and there are many cases of irritating re-usage. For instance, the exact same beaver mascot who cheers you after you win every game.

Sound: 2.3
Not only are there very few unique sound effects or songs, the ones that are there are grainy and awful. You're almost certain to start playing with the sound off.

Difficulty: Easy
Even for a children's game LLWS is pretty easy. Even slightly thoughtful combinations of skills can lead to incredible dominance and 100+ run games.

Concept: 7.4
For the most part, this is baseball as usual. However, some good touch-screen concepts and the ability to not only level up characters but to also use buffs and powerups gives this game a lot more depth and unique appeal.

Multiplayer: 7.0
The option to play multiplayer games with only a single cartridge via DS download play is a great addition. This is a great game to play with young friends for a few innings.

Overall: 7.2
Overall this is a pretty good package, that despite some glaring faults still manages to be pretty entertaining, especially for young baseball enthusiasts. Youngsters will respond well to the cartoony graphics and arcade/casual style of play.


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