Written by: Vernon D.
The PSP version is essentially the same as it's big brother (the PS3.) Therefore, I wont elaborate in too much detail regarding every feature since Muka already has that covered (and I agree with everything in his review.) What I will write about here is some random thoughts, how the PSP compares to the PS3 version and whether or not it stands on it's own.
The main differences (and disadvantages) of the PSP version are of course graphics, less precise controls and some missing modes due to memory restrictions. With that said I feel this is the best PSP game I've ever played and am totally addicted to it! I can't count how many hours of sleep I lost playing "Just one more game" in bed late at night. And I can't stress enough how great the hit variety is and how every rating really matters. Everything is earned, for example if I hit a home run it's usually because I was looking at a certain spot, the pitcher made a mistake with a poor release, I recognized the pitch and timed the swing perfectly. And it just feels great when the bat makes contact, because I know that I did everything right and got rewarded for it.
Then there are times that I'll get fooled, flail away at a pitch and end up with a lucky seeing eye single to the opposite field. There is nothing cheap here and there aren't any "random" results. If you want to be good at this game you have to know baseball and even with moderate settings the CPU is a tough beat. If you jack up the difficulty you won't see CPU cheats, instead CPU pitchers will hit corners and throw best pitches more often. Since results are physics based this means you can still beat the CPU if you can play at a high enough level of skill. However, I don't think I'll ever get to that point, so props to anyone who can beat this game with maxed settings!
I should also mention the atmosphere. I think this quote from Bill Harris from the Dubious Quality blog puts it best:
"The thing about playing a Japanese baseball game, if you can make it past the menus, is that the atmosphere is fantastic, far more exciting than American baseball, and since you're listening to the announcers in Japanese, it never sounds repetitive. It's a very engrossing experience. Plus the games tend to be far more polished than their American counterparts--an annual release is no excuse for mediocre quality in Japan."
In the early phases of designing this site I did not plan on translating pages such as the Training Modes. However, I found every single mode in this game is fun and usefull so I decided they all had to be done. I dare anyone to go into Homerun Race, pick an average or poor hitter and try to hit a dinger to the opposite field. It just doesn't happen in this game! Also playing defense is so fun that sometimes I'll go into fielding practice, put runners on base and have the CPU bat the ball all over the field. And defensive ratings make all the difference, if you have a slow player on the field you will really feel it. Sometimes it's like moving a turtle which is so frustrating when trying to chase down a hard shot in the outfield. Likewise it's a joy to have a speed burner who can fly around and they save so many runs over the course of a season. That's why late game defensive subs are so important!
I'd say the main area I'd like to see improved is pitching. I love the fact pitchers can have up to 12 pitches at their disposal and this is very realistic compared to SCEA's 'The Show' where each pitcher only has a choice of 5 pitches. However, pitching in PYS is a bit more clunky, such as balls thrown way outside sometimes morph into the catchers glove. Also I'd like to see pitchers completely melt down and lose control at times and throw more balls on easier settings. I wish there was a separate setting for how many balls the CPU will throw. On harder levels you can get a realistic amount of walks, mainly because the CPU is slicing the corners so much. It's rare on any mode to see balls thrown way off the mark on a consistent basis. The advantage to this approach is that you really have to be disciplined and pick your spots. This is realistic since batting at a pro level in real life is certainly not easy but in general I think the pitching graphics, animation and movement could use some refining. It's by no means even near a game killer, just a somewhat minor complaint.
The great thing about the PSP version is that it doesn't look or feel like a different game compared to the console version. For example I've played soccer games where the PSP version is a heavily stripped down and glorified pinball machine. This is not the case with PYS, it's the same game - you just play it in your hand. I totally recommend this to any baseball and sports fan. As long as you're ok with Japanese players then it's a must buy!
Here is a rundown of the differences between the PSP and PS3 versions...
- Not as many modes as the PS3. The PSP does not have Stardom or Grand Prix modes. It also has Ad-Hoc instead of online (although I'm no expert on that as I have not yet played online.)
- No Field Mode. Bummer as this is my favorite mode of play on the PS3 version. This mode is covered in the 'Starting an exhibition game' page. Basically, it's like RTTS in 'The Show.'
- Hitting stick not as precise. This is probably the biggest problem of the PSP version. The batting cursor on the PS3 is super precise and really nice to aim with. However, the PSP can be a struggle because if you're a fraction off on your aim it can be the difference between a hit and a pop-up. Fortunately this game comes with loads of settings, and you can do things such as adjust the aim assist etc.
OVERALL SCORE: A-
If Konami can improve pitching and add 'Field Mode' this would easily be an A+. Also, I recommend anyone interested to check out the PSP movies in the links below...PSP Version Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBNUjzXttQI
PSP (Off-screen) Gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF82cG6RNHk