2020 Super Baseball as it is called in my games list, is more than likely Super Baseball 2020. Even the main screen drives this point home. However, I subjected myself to it, so we’ll use the first naming convention and add it to the list of games starting with a number.
I am much more comfortable with baseball than I am with soccer, having played it up through my teenage years. This is probably a good thing since areas that were traditionally foul, are fair, and places that would have been home runs are now reduced to singles and doubles. This is actually a neat change that encourages use of more of the field. It almost feels like they are blending in a bit of cricket. You never realize how unjust it is to discount a great hit because it drifted a few inches to the left or right of the almighty line until now. Thankfully in six years we find a solution. The problem I have is that in at least three cases that I remember the ball would get stuck in these areas, one of which occurred during the world series match. Admittedly I benefited by getting an in the park home run, but it doesn’t speak well to the game in general.
The other major difference between your run of the mill baseball game and this is the ability to upgrade your players. In the game you have a monetary system for each match. As the innings go by, each play gives one of the teams a bonus. For example getting a hit will give you 300 dollars/credits/renminbi or whatever it is, but a pop out awards the fielding team 800. After accruing some currency you can put it towards increasing the hitting/throwing/etc. power of your players. These come at multiple levels ranging from A->C with C being the best and most expensive. This buff lasts all game. I usually wait until I can get someone to second base with less than two outs and use it to try to squeeze in runs. The earlier you can reasonably upgrade the better. You’ll be more likely to get a hit which will up your money and your later at bats will benefit from the power up. The only downfall to rushing is if you get people in scoring position and cant capitalize since you can’t upgrade the current batter.
There are only two modes in this game. Full league mode and two player skirmishes. This made deciding what was “beating” the game fairly easy. There are two leagues, the “Exciting League” and “Fighting League” and within the exciting league are the “American Dreams”. Sold. The players are made up of men, women and robots with comical and sometimes seemingly racist names. The Tokyo Samurais have players such as Tenpura, Susi, Sasimi, Katana and Tunami. We see what you did, and we’ve had just about enough after 7th Saga. (More about this later)
Each match is a full nine innings at least, and a full season is fifteen games. There is no options panel so there is no way to shorten the game or the season. There is also no way to scale down the difficulty on the opponent AI either. There is, however, a password given after almost every game to return to that point in the season. The only time this isn’t true is after the last game of the season before the world series. The last game and the world series are played in tandem, so if you’re like me and lose it in the world series, you’ll be forced to play the last two games over again if you want the win.
For the most part the mechanics of the game play are fine. I did find that diving didn’t always get you there faster. It has a neat animation with the jets shooting out your back, but it seemed you had to dive to the left and right to really benefit. After you dive there is a decent delay until you could move again, so it was fairly situational. Sometimes there is auto-fielding, usually for popups. However, I have assumed it would be automatic and been rudely corrected as it drops a few feet in front of my pitcher. You have to make sure your player’s hands are raised to catch it. It will never be someone already covering a base, since they apparently get cemented upon touching them, leaving the rest of your team to actual field the ball. One gripe I have about the fielding is that the mini map shows only runners and not the fielders. This makes both fielding and running the bases difficult. You can hit the ball into right field only to have it bounce back towards the second baseman. You’ll start to run thinking you are fine and then from outside the viewable area an infielder will snag it, and now you’re pants down in the base path.
Overall the game is fine, but repetitive. Other than the ratio of robot/human players per team and their jersey color, all the games play out the same. It looks good enough, especially the cut scenes for special catches, but then you take notice of the fact only five unique people make up the stands behind the catcher.
There simply is no replay value except for nostalgia, though I suppose this could be said for many sports games. The thing that sets the game apart, the big modification of changing the field to be unique, leads to a fundamental game flaw of getting a ball stuck. It just felt like it had potential but was overshadowed by being rough around the edges.
As a last point, I mentioned earlier I would address the names of the players. In my World Series match I played against a team with a, let’s say, unique list of names. This included Himmler, Goebbels, and Kamikaze. Now, it is very possible/likely that this was someone modifying the ROM, but I kept my passwords and intend to get a screen capture. I’ll post this separately when I get around to revisiting the game.