Apr 4, 2011

9 Innings: Pro Baseball 2011

When I saw 9 Innings arrive on the Android Market last week I just about freaked. I've drooled over it on the iPhone and wished that it would make the leap to Android, but hadn't heard that it was on the agenda. Sports games are one of my things... probably because I'm pretty competitive and like winning. And if I don't win, then I'd rather lose than tie. Plus it's from Com2Us... the same folks that brought us the addictive HomeRun Battle 3D.

Now, because 9 Innings comes from the same people that brought us HomeRun Battle 3D I'll admit that I had some preconceived notions. For a start, I thought they might use the same, successful formula for hitting in this game. That would be awesome! And then I thought maybe they'd use some sort of motion system for fielding as well... that would be pretty cool having to run your center fielded over in time to make that diving catch in the 9th. Who knows what else they'd think of? Instead what we get is something quite different.

9 Innings is played entirely with the touch screen and doesn't use motion control at all. Tap the screen to swing where timing is everything (and the only thing). Well, that's not entirely true as the game uses a player card system and as you play you earn upgrades to your cards and better cards. Cards aren't actually necessary as they could have just had 'upgrades', but I'm guessing they were used to appeal more so to the baseball card collector which I am not. No problem, though. When you get a hit you can tap on runners to make them advance (or retreat) and there's an icon that makes all runners advance. So there's really not much more to offense than timing your hits, playing an intelligent and not overly aggressive base running, and collecting improvements through further play.

On defense it gets more interesting. First, choose a pitch. Next drag on the touch screen to dictate an intended path for the ball to follow. Next, a large circle appears at the end of your drag and it cycles through getting smaller and then big and then smaller and so on. You goal is to tap when the circle is at its smallest so as to have the most accurate pitch possible. Tap when it's big and you'll be all over the place. Fielding of fly balls is automatic, but throwing to the bases is not. You can also click on multiple bases to create a 'pattern' of throws which is especially useful when trying to turn that double play (i.e. click on 2nd base and then 1st base before the ball arrives at 2nd base).

qrcode9 Innings is not MLB licensed, but is MLBPA licensed so all of your favorite players are here (and their photos are on the cards). I'm a Mets fan so I'm able to play with my beloved players from New York although they're not the 'Mets'. You can also adjust your line-ups. The card system adds things like Cheerleader cards and coach cards that you get and, as stated, will improve your season. I'll admit that I'm not too into that whole side of the game (and I'm also not a heavy baseball stats fan). The game offers both exhibition play and season play so right now I'm working through my season after playing a few exhibition games to get the hang of things. There's also a Home Run Derby mode which I find to be an interesting addition as it means the game somewhat competes against a flagship product of Com2Us's. This derby is different, though, as you (just like at the All-Star break) have to advance through stages to win.

All in all this is a great adaptation of baseball for a mobile device. Simple. Smooth. Fun. And it's got some Depth. It's not going to leave MLB The Show in the dust by any means (and it doesn't try and compete with it). I really liked how I could hit the home button on my phone and it would save my game so I didn't have to play a full 9 innings all in one sitting. Plus it's another free, ad-driven game. 5/5 stars for a great game that went in a very different direction from what I expected. And here's to hoping that motion centric version of baseball still comes someday!

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