Until recently, the only real way for you to play baseball on your Wii has been to fire up the ol’ Wii Sports disk. Sure, it’s fun, but it gets tiring after a while.
But coming to save the day is MLB Power Pros, a baseball title developed by Konami and published in North America by 2K Sports.
For those of you who don’t know what all the fuss is about, MLB Power Pros is the North American version of Jikkyou Powerful Major League 2, a game in Konami’s Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu or Power Pro series of baseball games. The Power Pro series is noted for its unique character designs and great game play, and Power Pro games stand out as among some of the best games you can import from Japan.
But how does the series handle the transition to the other side of the Pacific, as well as a jump to the Wii? Surprisingly well, actually. MLB Power Pros makes EA Sports’ efforts in the Wii in 2008 look laughably bad, all while providing a very fun gaming experience.
Power Pros has a number of different modes in it, enough to keep any baseball fan satisfied. There’s your usual exhibition and season modes, complete with all the usual dressings – adjustable line-ups, the ability to develop and trade players in season mode, an expansion mode feature that lets you create your own team and so on. One of the key differences in season mode, though, is that your main goal is to make your team as strong as possible. You do this through gaining points by playing games and achieving in-game goals. The more points you have, the more you can spend on equipment and the better your players become.
The game also features a league mode that lets you pick up to six teams and a home run derby, as well as team and player creation modes. But there are a few new additions that give Power Pros a uniqueness.
First off is Success Mode. In this mode, you create a character, then play through his college career and eventually his pro career, building him into a top prospect and future superstar. Konami seems to have borrowed from EA Sports’ playbook, as this mode feels a little similar to career modes in EA Sports titles, but it is a bit more simplified, well executed and is actually a fun mode to play through.
There’s also a mode where you can go to an in-game shop to buy things with points like baseball cards for your collection or items like extra uniforms or pitching and batting stances for custom characters. What’s nice about the collection is that every 100 doubles you get can be traded in for a card you don’t have.
As for the Wii remote, it can be used by itself to play two modes – exhibition and home run derby. These two modes feel identical to their Wii Sports counterparts, though pitching offers you more of a variety of pitches to pick from, and bunting is simplified.
With Power Pros, you’re given four different control set-ups. Two work with the Wii remote and Nunchuk, one with the classical controller, and one with the GameCube controller. At first, the game’s controls might feel a bit overwhelming to the casual player, but after a few games or one quick run through the game’s tutorials, you’ll be playing like a seasoned veteran. There’s a far wider range of both pitching and batting choices in Power Pros than there are in Wii Sports, though the Wii remote portions are similar.
As mentioned before, the game utilizes a very unique character design. The stars of the MLB are all in a super-deformed sort of state and look similar to Miis, though this series preceded the Wii by many years. Their faces only include eyes, eyebrows and any facial hair, yet you will have absolutely no problem telling your favorite players apart. Konami has gone to great lengths to distinguish each and every player, and the result is a rousing success. It also helps that Konami has also taken the time to get every player’s unique batting or pitching stance programmed into the game as well.
The game’s announcer is generally solid, though he does apparently have issues in pronouncing some player’s names. For example, on my Detroit Tigers, third baseman Brandon Inge’s last name comes out more like “In-gee” than the proper pronunciation with a silent “e.” Similarly, Ivan Rodriguez’s name is pronounced simply as “I-van” in the game, not the correct pronunciation, which sounds more like “Ee-vahn.” Still, even with these mistakes in the game, sound is not too much of an issue.
If you want a game that looks exactly like the real thing, look elsewhere. But if you can put photorealism aside and just want a great baseball game, then MLB Power Pros could be just what you’re looking for. It’s the first game to take something Wii Sports does and trump it. Don’t let the “kiddie” graphics scare you off: this is a game baseball fans of all ages can enjoy.
Pros: Great diversity of modes to choose from. Might look “kiddie,” but is far from it. Lots of customization opportunities. Range of controls makes the baseball in Wii Sports look like the tech demo it is.
Cons: Controls can be complex at first, but they are easy to learn. Game announcer screws up on some player’s names. Doesn’t use the Wii remote quite as much as I’d hoped.
MLB Power Pros is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2.