MLB Bobblehead Battle Review
It’s one thing to have a Bobblehead on your desk and occasionally whack it in the noggin in case you need something to quickly agree with you or amuse you for a few seconds. (Isn’t that right, Dwight Schrute?) It’s another to try and build a game around them, with players walking around the field, waving their heads around as if their necks were made out of Jell-O. Back in July, Konami tried – and somewhat failed – to capitalize on this idea with MLB Bobblehead Pros, and now, it’s back with a spin-off of sorts – the contest-based MLB Bobblehead Battle.
Now, the first question we need to ask is…why now? The Major League Baseball season started way back in April, and it recently wrapped into the playoffs, after one of the most outstanding evenings in the history of the sport. (Take that, Red Sox!) To release this during the post-season may see a minor interest from fans of the sport, but it includes a number of players who now have nothing to do but wait for next year’s training activity. Talk about missed opportunity.
Furthermore, why wasn’t this game released alongside MLB Bobblehead Pros, or at least as some sort of downloadable content over the course of the summer? This could’ve easily been tacked on as some sort of diversion to the main game, and probably would’ve improved upon it since it lacks the troublesome fielding that made it such a nuisance to begin with. Ahh, well, why try to dwell on the answers when we can try to make do with what’s here?
MLB Bobblehead Pros doesn’t go with the typical rules of baseball. Instead, it’s a skill game of sorts, where you and a friend, either locally or through Xbox Live, can compete in mini-game style contests between batter and pitcher. All 30 MLB parks are recreated here, but they are littered with ramps, walls, and squares that are colored differently, indicating either a position of hit (from Single to Home Run) or an out. Your job as the batter is to try and hit for the best scoring spots possible, while the pitcher works his best to get you out.
There is some variation to this game, thanks mainly to the inclusion of Power-Up cards. Both pitchers and hitters alike can turn on special abilities over the course of a match, activating either a switch-up squares in the field, crazy pitches that make the ball harder to hit, or batting incentives, like a huge, Nerf-style bat that helps get the ball out in the field. These cards definitely keep things interesting, though some work better than others.
We admit, some of these contests can get quite addictive against other players, and that’s mostly due to a surprisingly good batting/pitching gameplay system. You can see where a pitch is going to end up, and you can adjust your bat accordingly, or you can switch things around and go for something unexpected to keep the batter guessing. Taking the troublesome fielding out of the equation actually makes this game better – though its appeal is still limited in the long haul.
Visually, MLB Bobblehead Battle won’t win any awards. This looks like a souped-up Wii game at best. The fields themselves aren’t half bad, but you’ll barely notice where you are during play. And those players…ugh. They look like Bobbleheads all right, but they act too much like them, with their heads waving around without a care in the world. We would’ve preferred the classic munchkin style player that was previously introduced in the MLB Power Pros series instead. They’re so cute when you strike them out.
Don’t expect much from the audio, either. The music repeats way too often, the announcer wears out his welcome, and the players pretty much have nothing to say. Then again, when’s the last time a Bobblehead could truly talk? (Well, aside from those special edition figures, anyway.)
We do like MLB Bobblehead Battle way more than Pros, due to the fact that it focuses on a better competitive contest than a straight-up game of baseball. However, that also limits it quite a bit. The fact there’s nothing in the long-term to lean on, nor any sort of charming presentation, means you probably won’t come back after a few rounds. The timing of its release must be questioned as well. Baseball fans are welcome to give it a glance, but everyone else will get exactly what they need out of the Trial game. Consider this just short of the walk-off victory.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]