Spring Training games have started and baseball is about to make that effortless slide from being a regular occupier of my thoughts to an almost constant one.Â Most things (annual leave, eating, sleeping etc) revolve around the baseball schedule from this point until the end of October and thatâ€™s just the way I like it.
So, reading news stories online, following Spring Training games, flicking through baseball books and writing about the sport still doesnâ€™t come close to fulfilling my need for baseball.Â Looking for further baseball fixes, my attention turned to a new game for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
Big Hit Baseball was released just over a week ago and costs Â£1.19 on the UK Apple iTunes store, with a free â€˜Liteâ€™ version that limits theÂ app toÂ two teams and three-inning games.
The app was made by Square Enix and unsurprisingly follows a similar format to their Big Cup Cricket app.
Itâ€™s an arcade style game designed to provide a bit of baseball-related fun on a mobile device.Â You canâ€™t control the base-running game nor do a great deal from the fielding perspective and tactics really arenâ€™t a part of it.Â You can hit the ball, pitch and catch (the latter either jumping to catch it or via a dive) and thatâ€™s about all you would want to do on a game like this.Â Trying to control base-runners or selecting which fielder should go for the ball would probably make things a bit too fiddly.Â
As it is, you can give the ball a good whack by sliding your finger in the direction youâ€™d like the ball to go, with the timing and length of your â€˜swipeâ€™ dictating how well you hit the ball.Â You also use a sliding action to pitch, producing plenty of laughs when throwing cartoonesque sweeping curve balls.Â
If I was to request one change to the current gameplay it would be that a bit more craft is involved in the pitching.Â Sometimes whatever you do, the opposition tees off on you and crooked numbers can be common.Â Allowing the player to trick the opposition with a bit of cunning (fastball to the outside corner followed by change-up in the same place tumbling down out of the zone etc) would add an extra element of enjoyment to it.
This isnâ€™t an MLB affiliated product so the teams are a fairly random group (â€˜Tokyoâ€™, â€˜Ontarioâ€™ and â€˜Dominican Republicâ€™ to name three), but you can edit the the players if , like me, youâ€™re happy to spend a minute or so keying in a Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic style team.
Thereâ€™s a practice section where you can learn the basic controls, a â€˜Showdownâ€™ game in which you play a one-off contest and a â€˜Big Hit Seriesâ€™ in which you can play a whole competition.Â Thereâ€™s even jaunty organ music to bring the spirit of the ballpark to the contest.Â My only baseball-stickler gripes are that every caught ball is called a fly ball (no lineouts or pop-ups here) and when you hit a batter the game calls it a walk.
But those are just minor marks against the game.Â Itâ€™s a fun app for baseball fans and gives us yet another excuse to think about the sport even more before the ‘real’ games begin.