GZ Interview: MLB SlugFest Gets Loaded With More Arcade Action

MLB SlugFest Gets “Loaded” With More
Arcade Action


Louis Bedigian


“We’ve loaded up this
version of SlugFest with all of the fantastic over-the-top features that the
fans know and love.”


No one knows hard-hitting,
arcade-style sports games like Midway.  They practically invented the genre
with NBA Jam.  They redefined it with NFL Blitz, a game that traded realism
for entertainment.  A smart trade indeed – the series has sold millions,
prompting Madden game maker EA to release an extreme football game of their


Midway took on basketball,
football and hockey, so it was only natural that baseball would be next.  With
the ambition to tackle America’s favorite pastime, MLB SlugFest was born.



Screen Shot for MLB SlugFest: Loaded



MLB SlugFest: Loaded

is the third in the series, and like the title indicates, it’s loaded
with all the Midway goodies you’ve grown to love.


To find out just how many
goodies, we spoke with SlugFest Producer Adam Boyes.



The Pro editions of NHL Hitz and NFL
Blitz moved away from their arcade roots by playing more like simulation
games.  Is that the direction you’ve chosen to take with MLB SlugFest: Loaded?


Adam Boyes:

Not at all – we’ve Loaded up this version of SlugFest with all of the
fantastic over-the-top features that the fans know and love, and we’ve
expanded it so you can trash talk your friends over headsets for Xbox Live and
PS2 online, and we’ve added a huge franchise mode with the integration of
Baseball Mogul that has expanded the fun of SlugFest over up to 150 years of
exciting gameplay.


Tell us about the various game modes that
MLB SlugFest: Loaded has to offer.



Within Quickplay gameplay, we’ve got a completely customisable experience for
the user. Crank up the advantage meter, turn on our new pitch meter, turn off
aggression if you are too much of a sissy to handle it, you can pick and
choose over 30 options to make gameplay feel like a new experience every time.


There are 2 HUGE additions
to MLB SlugFest: Loaded this year – Baseball Mogul has been bought and
integrated into our Franchise mode, and we are going online for both PS2 and
Xbox Live. That’s right, you can finally trash talk your mom back in her home
town via headset support for both platforms. There are quickplay modes,
tournaments, optimatching, and friends support as well.


In Franchise mode, you will
be able to choose your favourite team, fire up a fantasy draft if you want,
and bash your way through 150 years of action-packed baseball. Fire the
players you don’t want anymore, sell off the slackers, buy up the talent, and
manage salaries, team budgets, and your team’s huge bank account. Don’t get in
the red, though, as player’s won’t want to play for your team.


We’ve also got our good ole
Homerun Derby. Try and beat Sosa’s personal record of 33 homers in one round,
and we’ll send you a free… uhhh… downloadable roster? Yeah, that’s the prize.
Free downloadable rosters every month! Hey wait a minute, everyone gets that
already!! I’ll think of something.



Screen Shot for MLB SlugFest: Loaded

He’s on fire!



Are any new defensive or
offensive moves being designed for MLB SlugFest: Loaded?



In gameplay, you can now avoid those deadly bean balls by pressing a certain
button. This allows for you to defend against losing your stats temporarily as
you used to. We’ve also added an arsenal of new pitches to the offense – Trick
Pitches, Special Pitches and Turbo Pitches give the pitchers a ton of options
to take out that extra heavy slugger coming up to bat.


Midway’s sports games are known for
having a plethora of extras to unlock.  What are some of the extras featured
in MLB SlugFest: Loaded, and how do you unlock them?



If we told you about all of our great unlockables and how to unlock them, then
we would have to kill you! And then all of the readers. And we at Midway
Sports don’t want to have to resort to that… so sit tight and once we release
the game, we’ll release some of the great unlockables over time. You could
also send a $3 cheque payable to ‘Adam Boyes’ c/o Midway and I would be able
to hook you up…


Which is the more integral part of the
game: the single-player mode(s) or the multiplayer mode(s)?



Depends who you ask. The real baseball afficionados on the team are constantly
playing through multiple seasons in our Franchise mode – trading, releasing,
signing, and playing through year after year. I personally love playing
online, putting on the headset and challenging our lead programmer Dave Lang
to a match online. I usually end up schooling him really bad, but sometimes he
whips out a couple of trick pitches and takes me down… but only a couple of
times so far.


The great thing about
SlugFest: Loaded is that it has everything for everyone. If you want to play
through 150 season, you can do that while keeping a close eye on your cash and
your career, or you can jump into gameplay online and take on a stranger or a
friend and show them who the better Slugger is.



Screen Shot for MLB SlugFest: Loaded

Try catching this.



Hitz and Blitz have some of the coolest
animations ever seen in a sports game.  Is MLB SlugFest: Loaded going to have
its own set of crazy animations? 



Absolutely. Here’s a secret new move for this year: Hold down the L2 button on
PS2 or L Trigger on Xbox while you are catching – you’ll unleash one of our
all-new ‘cocky catches’. Between the legs, behind the back, we’ve got it all.
We’ve added crazy new diving animations, off base catches and off balance
throws, and a plethora of other animations that you’ll get to see.


Have the batting or catching
aspects of the game been changed at all?



We’ve done some significant work in the batting area of MLB SlugFest: Loaded.
We’ve added 2 brand new batting modes – Directional mode and Authentic mode.
In Directional mode, wherever you are aiming with the left analog stick is
where the ball will be hit. With Authentic mode, wherever you hold the left
analog stick is where the batter will swing – so ‘up’ swings high, ‘down’
swings low, etc. We also kept our Slugfest batting mode for the
traditionalists as well. The batter/pitcher is quite a bit different – we’ve
given the pitcher and batter many more options to interact, as well as adding
a cool new pitch meter. With the pitch meter, you can psych out your opponent
with a little mini-game involved in this aspect – if you aim the pitch below
the strike zone, you can release the pitch early, and the pitch will fire
right through the middle of the strike zone.


How can players achieve the "on-fire"
status?  Are there any other strength-enhancing levels that can be reached?



To get on-fire this year, you have to either get on base twice in a row with 2
at bats, or get 3 strike-outs in a row. The other strength-enhancing function
that we have are trick pitches and special pitches: For a pitcher, we give
them one trick pitch per inning (but use it wisely!) and for special pitches,
you need to get 5 strikes and you earn one of the nearly unhittable Special
Pitches. We’ve also got our lovable turbo meters, so you can turbo slide and
hard tag your way to victory but here’s a tip: Don’t use it all in one go!
Save it up and use a little here and a little there – the only way to
replenish it is to get runs in, or striking guys out! You can also sub out
your pitcher for a fresh meter, or just finish out the inning.



Screen Shot for MLB SlugFest: Loaded




Have any unique moves or features been
designed for a particular player (such as Sammy Sosa)?



We thought heavily about doing this for some of the premiere players in the
league, but we quickly realized that we didn’t want to give any particular
team an advantage in our game. Every player has boosted stats for their
stronger attributes (i.e., Sosa hits ‘em HARD) so you can definitely tell by
playing who the faster runners are, whose got the better arm, and who can
knock the dingers outta the park consistently.


How many players, online or offline, is
the game being designed for?  Will the Xbox and PS2 version differ in this



SlugFest is and always has been designed for 2 players head to head, one
player in Franchise mode, or up to 8 players in our round-robin style Homerun
Tournaments. Both PS2 and Xbox will have the same design as each other – we
didn’t want to give any console owner a disadvantage over the other! The big
differences in the two consoles are in our online mode.


What can you tell us about the online
mode?  How many options are available to players who log in?



A big focus in our development this year has been Online playability. For both
consoles we have downloadable rosters that we will update frequently, we’ve
got a ticker tape from MLB.com that will be pumping up-to-the-minute stats,
scores and headlines from the MLB into your console, and match ups against any
friend or foe you can find. On PS2, we will have a point and tournament system
a little different from Xbox Live – You will be able to enter public
tournaments and compete with everyone else in the Gamespy Slugfest universe.
The tiers will advance over time, and you can work your way to the
championship of PS2 online!


On Xbox Live, we are the first game that
will be using some of the Xbox Live 3.0 functionality – with Microsoft’s help
we’ve developed a very robust tournament engine where users can create 4, 8 or
16 players tournaments – they can create them privately or invite the world to
compete in their backyard! You’ll be able to use quickmatch or optimatch to
pick and choose your opponents, manage your friends, and turbo slide your way
into anyone’s home from half way across the world. How cool is that!


Very cool!


Thank you Adam for all the
exciting details.