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Baseball iPhone games took a major step forward last year. We began to see simulation games that more closely resemble the game itself, as well as some nice arcade-style iPhone games for those just looking for a good time.
As for whether the genre sees just as much improvement this year, only time will tell. It should also be interesting to see what iPhone games return with sequels, as well as what new franchises make waves.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The beginning of the MLB season is quickly approaching, and while we get ready for this year’s releases, let’s take a look back at some of last year’s top baseball iPhone games.
Baseball Superstars 2010
Baseball Superstars 2010 was the second Baseball Superstars game to come to the iPhone, and though it lacked the realism many sports gamers crave, it very well may be the best baseball game available on the device.
Those familiar with the old version of the game will find many similarities in this version, most notably its good – but cartoonish – graphics. But what sets the iPhone game apart from its competitors is its six game modes (including a home run derby, mission mode, season mode and an RPG-style superstar mode) and tons of customizable options.
Though it’s clearly not a simulation game, the biggest improvement in Baseball Superstars could come simply from making the game play truer to the sport. Baseball fans would be well served by checking out the 2010 version for $4.99, though if you’re on the fence, there is a free demo version available as well.
Derek Jeter Real Baseball
Released during last year’s playoffs, Derek Jeter Real Baseball initially struck me as a rushed effort looking to capitalize on a big name and good timing. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t welcome a new version for the new season, though, as the iPhone game has many positives to build on.
Graphically, it’s one of the better baseball iPhone games you’ll find and a huge step up from MLB World Series. The game also has a full 162-game season mode, as well as a home run derby mode, so it definitely scores some points for its replay value.
Unfortunately, things like starting pitchers routinely topping 100 MPH and uninspiring pitching and batting controls seriously hurt this title. Check out the free lite version if you don’t believe me, but only the most fanatic baseball simulation gamers will want to check out this $2.99 iPhone game.
Homerun Battle 3D
Much like Backbreaker Football, Homerun Battle 3D only focuses on one aspect of the sport – in this case the home run derby – instead of attempting to offer a full game. Also like Backbreaker, it’s arguably the most popular game of its genre.
In addition to solid graphics, the game has perfect controls for the iPhone. Your bat’s sweet spot is controlled by the accelerometer, and you aim it while waiting for the right time to touch the screen and swing your bat. It’s both natural and simple, but still requires some time to become familiar with, so it’s not too easy.
The arcade-style iPhone game is full of over-the-top characters and equipment. The major downside of Homerun Battle is that it’s pricey ($4.99), so you may want to try the free demo before investing in the full iPhone game.
MLB World Series 2009
The only officially licensed MLB iPhone game, World Series makes great use of the license in what is an otherwise lackluster game.
The iPhone game not only has real teams and players, but also 10 real stadiums, such as Wrigley Field and New Yankee Stadium. The game also allows you to play a full 162-game season (it includes shorter seasons as well) or to simply jump into the playoffs.
The problem is that World Series doesn’t stand up to others on this list graphically, and while the controls are good enough, they don’t make up for its poor look. If you can only play baseball with real players, this $2.99 iPhone is your only option, unless MLB.com brings the series back for the 2010 season.
Power Pros Touch
Aside from the lack of an RPG-style mode, Power Pros is very comparable to Baseball Superstars, and possibly even better in a few areas.
The iPhone game has sharp graphics and colors that look similar to the Wii version of the game. The controls are good, though not groundbreaking, and when you put everything together, the iPhone game is probably one of the two or three best baseball iPhone games out there.
While it does have a season mode, that’s about it. When you combine that with only six teams, the iPhone game can get pretty repetitive and boring. If you’re not a fan of Superstars for any reason, this $3.99 iPhone game is worth a look, but overall, it’s not quite as good.
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