“America’s Pastime” is the one and only sport I just can’t get into watching. But when it comes to playing games, I love it. Blame Ken Griffey Jr. and the Super Nintendo. Wannabat Plus (Out Now, $1.99) is an arcade-y take on the game of hardball and it’s a very pleasant and entertaining surprise.
There’s a story somewhere in the single player mode. It all has to do with a tournament and a chance to play in the big leagues and some guy that you’re chasing down that you’re destined to play at some point. But honestly who cares, right?
Wannabat comes down to a one-on-one baseball showdown as players take turns up at bat and at pitching. When it comes to batting, all hits in the infield count as a foul and 4 of those equate to an out. This saves players from the minutia of constant fouling and the side taking forever to play out. There are designated zones for a 1 base hit and a 2 base hit and hitting the fence means a triple. Hitting over the fence obviously means a home run. It’s pretty straightforward. Pitching consists of throwing into the strike zone for strikes and throwing balls in order to tempt your opponent into swinging. One-on-one or not, it’s still baseball after all. I love how quickly the game moves and you don’t have to worry about stealing bases or trying to pick runners off. You hit and you pitch. That’s all there is, but it’s fast-paced and fun as heck. There’s also multiplayer over an internet connection but no Game Center compatibility.
There is a bit of a learning curve to the game, and in the first few matches I got pretty much slaughtered. In order to hit, you have to hold down on the right side of your screen and time your release with the pitch. There’s a designated spot on your bat that acts as your sweet spot so try and make contact with the ball in that area. When it comes to pitching, you have to time the zooming in target so that it’s just right because if you miss your timing it leads to a fastball straight down the middle and that’s home run territory. The controls work very well and even though it all sounds complicated, once you get into the groove of things you’ll be smacking balls out of the park in no time. Just like in real baseball, it’s all about the timing.
As you progress in the game, there are upgrades available to almost everything about your character. Using SP you can upgrade your pitches and using “G” (presumably Gold) to purchase special pitches and special swings for hitting. Gold can also be used to buy different clothing and bats for your player. These products aren’t only for cosmetic reasons even though there are all kinds of unique customizations. Training an item earns you SP and you do that by wearing the shirt, pant, glove, or whatever whilst playing a match and some items come with bonuses already. You can use actual money to purchase stars, which translate into G to spend but it’s not really necessary. There’s even a joke in the dialogue about games that push players to pay for IAP that made me laugh. These RPG-style elements add depth to an already fantastic game.
The game looks incredible. The art style is vibrant and colorful but there is an abnormal amount of slow texture loading. Your character and the environments come in black and then are filled in a short time later. Sometimes, faces disappear and reappear. There’s dialogue to the story and some laziness when it came to the execution. Words that don’t fit on one line aren’t hyphenated and it can cause some confusion when reading. These aren’t game breaking glitches, but it does display a lack of polish. This can (and hopefully will) be fixed with an update. The sound of the bat cracking into the ball is perfection but other than that nothing really stands out in the audio department.
iFanzine Verdict: Wannabat Plus is steal at $1.99. The game is deep and fun and it looks crisp and colorful. The slow texture loading and non hypneated dialogue are just minor setbacks to one of the best baseball games on the App Store.