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One Piece: Going Baseball - Kaizoku Yakyuu (Game Boy Advance) artwork

One Piece: Going Baseball - Kaizoku Yakyuu (Game Boy Advance) review

"“This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.” Those lines were spoken by the manager of the Durham Bulls in the movie Bull Durham. Although baseball isn't the most cerebrally taxing sport, modern baseball games make America’s pastime seem like a complicated affair for the uninitiated – You have to decide who to start, batting order, when to get the bullpen going, what deodorant the players use, and which back alley dealers they will buy steroids f..."

“This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.” Those lines were spoken by the manager of the Durham Bulls in the movie Bull Durham. Although baseball isn't the most cerebrally taxing sport, modern baseball games make America’s pastime seem like a complicated affair for the uninitiated – You have to decide who to start, batting order, when to get the bullpen going, what deodorant the players use, and which back alley dealers they will buy steroids from. Okay, kidding about the last two items. Contrasting all this rigamarole, One Piece: Going Baseball is a simple game. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played baseball in your life. It doesn’t matter if you can’t throw a baseball more than five feet. Anybody can pick up this game and learn all that is needed within minutes.

For starters, you don’t need to spend much time with your lineup. You only get seven players, so there is not even a short stop or a center fielder, let alone a bench and a bullpen to worry about. That means you don’t have to pull up an entire roster and figure out which of your players are least fatigued; you just start the game after you've selected your team. Teams include the Straw Hat Pirates (the heroes of the story), the East Blue Pirates (assorted villains in the series), The Marines, inhabitants of the Kingdom of Alabasta, Baroque Works (a criminal organization run like a secret society), and inhabitants of Skypiea (a kingdom in the clouds). Your starting pitcher will eventually wear out, but all you have to do is swap positions, which can be done as frequently as you like without penalty.

Once the game starts, even those who have never played baseball will notice the blatant lack of realism. Pitchers can throw breaking balls that change direction no less than four times before crossing the plate. Base runners motor along the base paths with speeds that would make The Justice League’s Flash envious. Hell, half the characters don’t even use wooden baseball bats. Some of these jokers try to smack the ball with a hammer, a sword, a push broom, or even a stick fashioned out of a wax producing body.

The lack of realism opens the door for a fun, creative experience. Ball players smile like litte kids opening presents on Christmas Day as light, cheerful music plays in the middle of innings. This is a baseball video game filled with all sorts of comic animations and wacky situations. Strikeout victims turn to your direction with white, pupil-less eyes and jagged shark's teeth. The ball gets bounced around like a pinball between barrels and rocks in the middle of the outfield on Whisky Peak. A super-sonic duck knocks your well-placed curve ball out of the park with his right wing. A grown man dressed as a swan smokes a fastball right by you. This may just barely resemble a game of baseball, but it’s all in good fun.

The easiness of the game further enhances the joyful atmosphere. The default setting allows the computer to control base running and fielding for you. Opposing batters frequently take power swings at balls way outside the strike zone. If you have multiple base runners, the computer rarely tries to throw the currect runner out. Once the bases are loaded, it's not uncommon to rack up several runs by simply bunting. There is an option to use characters' special moves to hit home runs, but this is more for show. Every game is easily winnable without hitting a single home run.

On the flipside, there is no season or playoff mode. There is a story mode which basically amounts to your team of choice playing all of the other teams. While there are unlockables such as a hidden team and various mini-games, the lack of a season mode may turn off hard core baseball fanatics. One Piece: Going Baseball is designed with the casual fan in mind.

If you shy away from sports games because you don’t like sports, that’s completely understandable. Most baseball games can be very unfriendly toward the average layperson. However, One Piece: Going Baseball invites gamers of all athletic abilities to visit all sorts of wacky and colorful ballparks for an experience that should be more prevalent in sports: hanging out , having fun, and laughing about it.


randxian's avatar
Community review by randxian (July 18, 2009)

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aschultz posted July 19, 2009: that's where your blog avatar comes from!

I liked this review but would've maybe liked to read more entertaining examples about the weird characters earlier. The beginning paragraph may have parts that go to the end or maybe you can say "It doesn't matter if you're [weird character 1, 2 or 3 that does X, Y or Z.]" I'm more curious about how many players you can choose from--are there preset teams? Do pitchers tire, or can you swap them out, or shuffle positions around? Is there a league or playoff mode? Are long-term statistics kept, and do you think this could get non-baseball fans interested? How much can you adjust the difficulty and how long does it last? Is it too random? The cheerful music--is it organ music like you'd hear at a ball game? "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," even? How could the game be weirder/less weird to enhance it?

And even though you only have to choose 7 characters, that's more than some RPG's. I assume characters have several different abilities. Does the computer give any guidelines whom to pick? Or does trial and error bear out how good your choices are?

These are tough questions but if you can work them in with your entertaining descriptions, it will help the review jump a notch. As it is the game seems like something I'd like to play but I have no idea of its longevity.
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randxian posted July 19, 2009:

Thanks for the feedback. The questions you posed here seem fair and probably something that should be worked in somehow.
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honestgamer posted July 19, 2009:

This is a pretty solid review that will probably be improved by the suggestions you've already received (which I've not actually read, but I know that Andrew tends to make good points). One point I have: removing "As a matter of fact," from your review (you use it twice) would probably improve it. Those are filler words and they sort of stand out here. Since you don't seem to be stating your opinion in the remainder of each sentence, the reader is likely going to assume that it's fact and there's no reason to say that explicitly. Anyway, it's a good start to a potentially great review. Even as-is, it gets in, gets the job done and leaves me with a solid impression of how things play.
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randxian posted July 19, 2009:

Thanks. I removed those phrases. You're right; it does read much better this way.

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