WBSC eBaseball: Power Pros | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, February 16, 2023

WBSC eBaseball: Power Pros | Review | Switch

The Power Pro baseball series has been absent from English speaking territories for quite some time. In its time away, the series has continued and thrived in Japan with numerous releases over the years on various platforms. The Switch has also been no stranger to the series - three mainline games have been released (2019, 2020 and 2022, the latter two featuring two year support from Konami) as has a spin-off title (Power Pro-Kun Pocket R). Of course, these have all lacked one thing that most of us wanted - an English localization. Fast forward to now, and for some reason, Konami has opted to give gamers across the globe a shot at some Power Pro baseball with WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) eBaseball: Power Pros. While this is a very cheap budget title, you’re probably wondering if its worth your time. Lucky for you, that’s what we’re here to talk about.

We’ve covered pretty much all of the Power Pro games that have hit the Switch. If you’ve read any of my reviews about the series before, you’ll know what to expect here. If not, I’ll break it down briefly. Despite its cute look, Power Pros is a pretty sim-style baseball game, albeit one that is easy enough to get into. Pitching has players choose from a number of pitches with the analog stick. Once chosen, you simply press B an then decide the location before the pitch animation is completed. Batting is pretty simple to understand, too - just move the bat cursor to where the ball is and press B for a regular swing. You can also opt to do a power swing by pressing R, which in turn makes the cursor smaller, but packs a more potent swing. Fielding is also pretty simple. The face buttons are assigned to bases for throws, while, jumps and dives are also possible. 
Gameplay tip - For a bit of a speed boost while running the bases, tap the shoulder buttons. I honestly find this kind of annoying and wish it was just done automatically. I could see how it could make the base running a little more engaging for some, though.

Camera - Additionally, you are able to change the camera while playing with the click of the right analog stick, but ONLY when playing locally. While playing online, you can only play with the camera behind home plate.

Being a budget title, modes are a bit sparse in WBSC Power Pros. The main mode on offer here is Championship, which is the portal into online play (more on that in a bit). Outside of that, you are also able to play practice games against the computer or with up to four people, take part in local tournaments and create your own team. 
Before diving into Championship, it’s important to note that you will NEED TO set up your own custom team in order to play any baseball here. Team creation is simple. You can allow the computer to auto draft a team based on certain parameters (focus on batting, pitching, defense or balanced) or opt to choose players yourself. Not only this, but you are able to edit and set up uniforms with a surprising amount of depth. You are also able to choose coaches, your default stadium, fans and more. Although this game does have the WBSC license, it does not feature any real world players. The player pool consists of characters that have appeared in Power Pro games over the years. When it comes to setting up your team and customization, there is some depth here. How much effort you out into this depends entirely on you.
As mentioned previously, Championship is the online portal for Power Pros. While you can opt to create or join games in the Quick Game lobby, most of the focus is on the weekly Championship Tournaments themselves. These games are limited to three innings and have restrictions on team strength to keep teams from being stacked. There are also time limits put into place while playing for doing things like changing players or even keeping time down between pitches. With these elements in place, games go by at a pretty brisk pace. I’s worth noting that once you’ve chosen a team for a tournament, you must play as that team for the remaining duration of said tournament. 

Completing games, win or lose, nets you CP. This accumulates over time and provides players with various unlocks. These consist of animations that can be used for your player introduction in the online matches or new players that can be added to your team. You’ll also be given an overall ranking for the tournament as well as a lettered rank and PR (Power Rank). All of these aspects are pretty robust and could be motivating for some to keep playing. 
While I do think this is a pretty fun mode, this isn’t something new to the Power Pro series - at least not for Japan. An almost identical mode can be found in last year’s Japan only Power Pro Baseball 2022 (Switch and PS4), complete with the same logo. If you already have Power Pros 2022, you won’t be missing out on much here outside of a potentially larger pool of players and English support.

Online Performance
I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of online competitive play in sports games. Nevertheless, that’s a very big component of what WBSC Power Pros is all about. Joining matches is pretty simple and quick, especially in the main Tournament mode. I was usually able to hop in and get to playing in about a minute or so (including set-up time for my opponent and I). I wasn’t able to test the online under optimal conditions (aka via a wired connection), but I did try it out using Wi-Fi in a spotty area in my house, on my main TV (with a stronger connection), and via handheld mode. There are some issues with the game having some hiccups here and there. Typically, this didn’t didn’t affect gameplay, however, there were some times when my pitches appeared to be delivered slowly, or the opposing pitcher’s pitches came in quickly. This could be chalked up to me just not being used to the Tournament setting for the gameplay. Despite these complaints, I had fun playing against others from around the globe.

Visuals, Audio & Performance
Whether you are new to the Power Pro series or have been playing for a long time, the visuals and presentation here are quite nice. Being a Power Pro game, the players sport a cute, round look and no legs. With the Switch version, the game does run pretty smoothly, however some conceits were made with the graphics, just as with previous Japan only entries. Logos on jerseys and in the stadiums have a somewhat low resolution, as do the player’s faces. You likely won’t notice this from afar, but on close up shots, it’s easy to spot. Regardless, these visuals and performance here are pretty good.
Audio here is on point, however, unless you tinker with some options, you will be missing out on some of the charm of the game. If you’re playing the game in English, you might notice that the game is a bit on the quiet side and lacking commentary. While English text is supported here, commentary is not. By default, changing the game to English turns the commentary all the way down, however, you can adjust this in the options to essentially enable it. I would suggest going in and making adjustments if you want to hear the Japanese play-by-play.

I’m glad that Konami has brought back Power Pros to the English speaking world even with this bite sized budget release. The gameplay is still tight, the aesthetic is endearing and the game runs smoothly. Online play is a bit spotty at times, but mostly okay. At the end of the day, this is a very cheap title, so you won’t be out much if you take the plunge. But let’s turn things over to you. Did you pick up WBSC eBaseball: Power Pros? What platform did you pick it up on? Are you new to the series or a grizzled vet? Be sure to sound off in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

No comments: