MLB Bobblehead Battle was developed and published by Konami Digital Entertainment. it was released on August 28, 2011 for 800 MSP. A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.
MLB Bobblehead Battle isn’t your normal baseball game. Though all your favorite teams and players are there, the main focus here is pitching and batting. This time around the folks over at Konami have done away with dealing with controlling extra players, no more catching the pop fly to left field, no more picking off second base with B.J. Upton. Instead, the field is now boxed out into sections marked single, double, triple, home run, etc. Wherever the ball stops, that’s what you get.
To make this a little more difficult yet fun they have added different objects throughout the outfield to force a higher emphasis on ball placement. There are also power-up cards that will either give you an advantage or even put your opponent at a disadvantage for a set number of rounds. MLB Bobblehead Battle has a few different modes to choose from including exhibition, challenge and even a stadium editor for you to build your own “battleground”.
Here’s what we liked:
Official license - Sports games when done correctly are always loads of fun, even when they have fictional people or teams. Even so nothing replaces the feeling of using your favorite player to hit a Grand Slam or throw a no hitter. It’s great to be able to play as a full MLB team rather than a bunch of Joy Nobodys. The game also has free roster updates, which is always a nice addition to any sports game.
Multiplayer - A baseball game that is basically a twist on the home run derby concept screams for live competition. Sure, it feels good to stomp up on the computer on the hardest difficulty, but it just can’t replace that feeling of beating a real person. Taking it online is simple and easy and feels as spot on as offline does, no lag strikes or pre-swinging required to make contact. MLB Bobblehead Battle doesn’t neglect good old couch gaming, either. It has a local battle mode giving you a chance to humiliate your friends while they’re in the same room. And let’s be honest, nothing’s better than local play trash talk.
Options - Normally in a game being able to switch your controls and difficulty is enough, but in a sports game tweaking is always wanted. Konami took this into mind and added in several options that control the difficulty and how accessible the game is. You can set difficulty all the way to the top and remove all bat and ball indicators, or you can put all indicators on and add pitching and hitting assistant. It allows players of any skill level to pick up a controller and feel like a pro.
Power-ups - Cards have been added into gameplay that can be activated at any point before the pitch. These cards will give your players powerups and can change the pace of the game in a heartbeat. There are 30 cards in total and 10 can bee equipped, allowing you to create what your own powerhouse hand. The cards must be purchased with points earned during play, from outs, successful at-bats or runs. You have cards like “extra base” that changes all the spaces on the board from single hit into a double or “cannonball”, allowing you to pitch at 300mph, but at the cost of using any breaking balls. When used correctly, these power-ups can really add an exceptional twist and new level of difficulty to an match.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Bobbleheads - Yep, it’s in the title of the game, so it’s a given that their heads would indeed bobble around. What’s not covered in the title is how annoying and distracting this can be, even disorientating at times. When you’re trying to focus on a 120mph curve ball that is aimed at the back corner of the plate you don’t want to have to worry about something bouncing around in your peripheral vision. It was funny at first, but there should be an option to make the heads stationary.
Graphics - The art style was definitely aimed for the younger crowd. Still, why should the graphics suffer, after all children’s eyes can see just the same as an adults. The colors felt very flat and washed out and the characters have no legs, something that even children would question. It leaves you to wonder why they would decide it was okay to make it look like something you would find on a TV channel meant for toddlers.
Edit mode - This is a nice break from the norm and definitely adds a little bit of depth to a rather simple game. The problem here comes from it feeling to simple, it feels more like an after thought then a planned mode. With any edit mode you need depth and the ability to let your imagination run wild, and that just isn’t possible here, forcing you to look past this mode rather quickly.
After several matches Online, locally against a few friends and fully completing the challenge mode, it was rather impressive how solid MLB Bobblehead Battle turned out to be. MLB Bobblehead Battle gives everyone the ability to make the difficulty just what they need to enjoy it, allowing newbies and vets alike to find fun and replay value here. Add in real rosters and teams, a plethora of options, all at a rather low price and this could just be the next family sports game to glue you to the couch.
Score: Try It!