Jikkyō Power Pro Baseball | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Jikkyō Power Pro Baseball | Review | Switch

by Danny Bivens

A deep sim experience hides beneath this cute facade. 
Jikkyō Power Pro Yakyū, commonly referred to as Power Pro Baseball in the West, is finally available for gamers in Japan. The series has been running since the Super Famicom days and titles have seen releases (not recently) in the West over the years. While this version of Power Pros features Japanese teams, players and stadiums, there are still loads of reasons why you shouldn’t overlook it even if you’re not a fan of Nippon Professional Baseball.


Unlike the other two baseball series already available on the Switch (RBI Baseball and Famista Evolution), Power Pros is a lot more complex than it appears. This comes with batting, pitching and fielding. It should be noted, too, that there are several options for controls that accommodate to first time players (containing a lot of auto-play) up to more complex, player-input-only levels of difficulty. Personally, while I’ve played the Power Pro series (and lots of other baseball titles) in the past, I opted to go with the “Normal” option for the majority of my time with the game. This gameplay portion of this review is based on this setting.

Batting and Base Running
First, let’s start with the batting mechanics. You’re able to move your cursor around with the joystick to try to position your bat. Whenever you remove your thumb from the joystick, it springs back to the center. If you’re batting using the “analog” cursor, the cursor stays in place. I’ve found that former to be a bit easier when it comes to accurately being able to hit the ball. Speaking of hitting, pressing B performs a standard swing, while A allows you try for bunts. To add a bit more oomph to your swings, pressing the R button will allow players to opt for a more powerful swing. The advantages here are obvious, however, the cursor to hit the ball shrinks a significant amount. This can be toggled on and off before the pitcher throws the ball.

Base running is also a little bit complex, but not too difficult to get a grasp of. Once a ball is hit into play and your runner is heading to base, players are prompted to hit the L and R buttons at the same time to get a burst of speed. You don’t have to do this, but it does give you a bit of an advantage on the bases. As far as I know, there is no way to turn this off. It can be a bit awkward and tiring at times to be honest and is one of my least favorite aspects of offensive play. At the same time, it does give you a bit more of a sense of control over the fate of your runners.

Of course, you have the ability to steal bases as well as direct your on-base runners. Pressing the X button advances all runners, while A calls them back. Unless I missed it, in this “normal” setting, you can only advance/call back ALL runners rather than individually.

Pitching and Fielding
Pitches are assigned to directional arrows. You can choose your pitch by pressing the desired direction corresponding to a pitch with either the joy stick or D-pad. After deciding where to throw your pitch with the joystick, B initiates the pitch. Different pitchers, just like in real life, have some pitches that they are really good at performing. This is indicated by a number next to the pitch. If you have a pitcher that has a 5 ranked slider, the ball is going to have quite a bit of movement. If you have a curve ball that has a 1 next to it, chances are that there isn’t going to be much movement on the pitch. It’s a challenge to throw a good mix of pitches to get your opponents out, but it feels really good and responsive.  Also, to add a bit of variety, you are able to change the camera mode at any time of both pitching and batting by pressing in the right analogy stick. The default camera is up close to the batter with the pitcher in the distance, but while pitching, you are able to put the camera behind the pitcher. It’s a nice touch that adds to the realism.

Fielding feels incredibly realistic. When trying to go after a ball that is in play, there is a certain amount of weight and momentum to the on field players. They can’t turn or stop on a dime. You have to take good trajectories toward balls to ensure that you can either get some outs or just stop a rally from happening. Throwing to bases is simple, with each face button corresponding a base. As long as your player is in a good position when fielding a ball, they’ll make a smooth throw. Conversely, if they make an off balance throw, it increases the chance for errors or just not making the making the throw in time. It feels fast and offers a level of realism that the other big name baseball games on the Switch lack.

Power Pros on the Switch comes packed full of tons of modes that can provide dozens and dozens of hours worth of gameplay. I’ve went through most of these modes in detail over on our YouTube channel (you can check out our Hub Page for the game to get access to all of those here), however, they are all still something that should and are going to be talked about here.

Of course, Versus area of the game offers all kinds of different ways to play. There’s multiplayer, online play and even a “narikiri”mode (kind of like a “My Player”) that gives you the ability to play through the game as one athlete, i.e. only control this character on defense and offense. With the Versus area alone, there is quite a bit to do. Home Run Attack is pretty basic and is separated into two play types - Score Attack and Home Run Battle. Here, you have the ability to duke it out against the computer or four friends in an attempt to score as many points as possible by hitting the ball as far as you can. I’ve went into detail on this before in another video, but I will say, this mode is really easy to pick up and play and is (probably) a lot of fun to play with friends.

For a more deep experience, Pennant Mode is where it’s at. Here, you have the ability to play through multiple seasons with the team of your choosing. The mode is incredibly (and optionally) detailed. There are so many options that you can turn on or off here - things related to free agents, bringing in foreign players, injuries, managing your first and second tier level players on your team…If I were to go through everything that you could do here I would be rambling on for ten minutes or more. Heck, even in this mode you can play the previously mentioned “My Player” mode to get you through your season faster. If you’re really into a simulation kind of experience, Pennant can keep you busy for a long time.
Treasure Mode, the newest addition to the series is another easy to pick up and play mode. Again, I’ve went through this mode in detail in another video, so I’ll just be touching on it briefly here. In Treasure, you are in control of a team of scrubs playing exhibition games agains Japanese pro teams. While playing here (and in other modes of the game), you will obtain items that can be used to boost your players’ stats and abilities. Playing the games here doesn’t actually put you through an entire game, but rather just sections of the games. They go by very quickly, but are really great to try if you only have a little bit of time in your hands.

The other two modes are some that I honestly haven’t put too much time into here, but I’ll give you a brief rundown. Success Mode has you create a player and take them an entire baseball career. You start off in high school and try to work your way up to a starter and then eventually to becoming a pro player. There are lots of RPG-like elements to be found here as well as a lot of text. On top of building up your player and playing baseball, you can hang out with friends, go on dates and more. If you’re not familiar with Japanese or you don’t want to hold your phone up to the TV/Switch using Google Translate’s camera option, this mode might be a little bit lost on you.
The same could be said about My Life Mode. This mode is similar to Success, however, you create and control a player as he is working his way up the ranks of a professional team. There are other elements here as well, and a lot of text. Personally, I can see the appeal for both of these modes. However, be aware that they are packed with Japanese and will take some time and effort to get enjoyment out of them if you don’t know the language.

There is an online mode here that can be found under the Versus menu. To get into a game, players will either have to create a match (complete with setting the number of innings and other rules) or join an already created one. Even when trying to get into a match shortly after the game was released, there weren’t a lot of rooms/matches. When I could connect to a game, the experience wasn’t bad. I didn’t experience much lag playing over a wi-fi connection. One thing I did notice was that the speed of my pitches seemed to be going in very slowly. Sure, my team’s bullpen kind of sucked, but it just looked a little bit off.
I mentioned this in previous videos, but the online ranking section in the Home Run Attack of the game remains broken at this point. Kind of a shame, really, considering pretty much everything else about the game is rock solid. Again, it’s possible this could be fixed in the future, but with version 1.01, the most current firmware, this is unusable.

Graphics and Performance

Despite the simplistic looking character models, Power Pros on the Switch is fantastic visually. The game runs at 60 frames per second both in docked and handheld mode and in my time so far with the game, I haven’t witnessed any slowdown at all. The presentation is top notch here, too. Opening cinematics before and after games are believable and realistic (despite the rotund characters) and the entirety of the game is even called by a play by play announcer (in Japanese of course). They even have a section after games showcasing the “player of the game,” having a mock reporter interview said player. Replays are pretty frequent here, too, showing off good plays that were made either on offense or defense.
In an effort to make the experience in Power Pros more realistic, even small details like the crowd chanting for specific players when they’re up to bat, the spot on recreations of the stadiums (complete with advertising that appears in the real parks), fielding animations complete with appropriate levels of momentum and balance - I could go on and on. I will go on a little bit here with some more on the crowd. Konami put in individual character models in each of the seats of the stands that all move on their own and also react to balls hit their way. Sure, they’re cute and feature the same aesthetics of the players themselves, but this level of detail is something that other baseball games on the Switch, and possibly other consoles, just don’t have. Konami really knocked it out of the park here.


As it stands right now, Power Pro Baseball on the Switch is the definitive baseball game on the system. Heck, it even has amiibo support and its own special amiibo (for those that picked up the game physically). For a lot of baseball fans who know next to nothing about Japanese baseball teams or players, this could be a turn off. Part of the appeal of sports games to gamers is the ability to play as teams and characters that you love. I would argue that even if you’re not too familiar with Nippon Pro Baseball, the gameplay is the real star of the game and is what will win you over. It also should be noted that some of the online aspects of the game are unsatisfactory, with one part not working at all. Despite these issues, if you’re looking for a baseball game that has spot on controls and tons of modes at your disposal, this is a game that you need on your Switch.

Final Score: 9.0

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