If you’re a hardcore baseball fan looking for a new challenge, Pro Baseball Spirits 2010 may just be what you’re looking for. As you can guess from the logo, this is a Japanese baseball game licensed by Nippon Professional Baseball, the Major League Baseball of Japan. That in itself might be a deal breaker right there, but if you’re willing to take a chance, this could become one of your favorite games.
I know zero words of the Japanese language and have no ability to read Kanji. As you can guess, that causes quite a problem when playing some of the modes in this game. Thankfully, there are great groups of English speaking players of this game on the internet helping others, like me, know whats going on. You can work your way into an exhibition game without needing to know much, there are a few screens with English that will help you get straight into a game.
Once you get into a game, you realize the graphics are beautiful and the gameplay is very solid. The control scheme is very similar to MLB 10: The Show and many other baseball games, so after an inning or two, you’ll should feel very comfortable playing. When I started playing I noticed that the default settings were a little to easy. On the lower levels, the power hitters seem to have super human power and can seemingly be able to hit a home run nearly every at bat.
The hardest thing to setup in this game is the settings. This is a blessing and a curse. The settings are so deep, that you can customize to be perfect for your skill level. From changing the speed of the pitch coming in, to the camera angles, to batting controls. Since these settings are all in Japanese Kanji, its a little more difficult then normal. Thankfully the great community has translation guides for all the setting screens.
As with the deep settings, you’ll notice that the pitching is much deeper than American baseball games. Unlike The Show and MLB 2k10, which limit a pitcher’s number of pitches to 5, pitchers, in Spirits 2010, you can have 9 or more pitches. The reason for this is that the game has many variations on pitches, so a pitcher could have multiple fastballs or curveballs.
One of the things that slows the game down is a term I’ve created called “Chien-Ming Wang-itis”. This is when a pitcher’s windup seems to last forever with many stops in it, like, Washington National player Chien-Ming Wang.
Baseball fans may notice a few former MLB players that are currently in Japan. Such as, former White Sox second baseman, Tadihito Iguchi (Chiba Lotte Marines), and Seatle Mariners catcher, Kenji Johjimi (Hanshin Tigers). Also, as you could have guessed, many of the players from Japan’s World Baseball Classic Championship team are here including; Yu Darvish (Marines), and Shuichi Murata (Yokohama BayStars). Also, 2006 WBC standout from South Korea, Lee Seung-Yeop (Yomiuri Giants) aka “The Lion King”.
Pro Baseball Spirits 2010 is a great baseball game. If I knew what the screens said, I would probably say it rivals, if not bests, MLB 10: The Show. For the average American baseball fan, it’s very tough to recommend this game. Not only because of the fact that most won’t be able to read what is going on but also the difficulties in actually getting your hands on a copy of it.
To get this game you need to go through an importer such as Play-Asia.com or NCSXshop.com. Since the game is coming from Japan there is a big price increase, $74.90 for the PS3 version and $59.90 for the PSP version. Not to mention the shipping from Japan to the US.
If you’re a hardcore baseball fan who wants something different, and can spend $80 on a game that you’ll probably only be able to understand only a few modes of, unless you can speak and read Japanese, I highly recommend picking this up. For an average fan that can’t read Japanese and doesn’t want to invest their time scouring the internet for translations, there is no reason to pick this game up.
Pro Baseball Spirits 2010 is available now on PS3, PS2 and PSP in Japan, with no likely release date in other territories.