February 5, 2007 - It seems that every year about this time a bunch of new baseball games make their way onto the pages of the Famitsus and the Dengekis of Japan. This year, we anticipated the flood, and prepared some clever word play to introduce the lineup. See if you can spot it.
Leading off is Jikkyou Pawafuru Puroyakyu Portable 2 for the PSP, due for Japanese release on 4/5. This Konami big-headed baseball series tends to be spelled Powerful Pro Yakyuu (Yakyuu being Japanese for baseball), but the logo actually has the Japanesey romanization, so we've kept it as so.
This latest entry in the PSP series, whch is known affectionately as Pawapota, short for Power Portable, comes ready with all the year 2007 data. Yes, even though the players are big headed, the stats are real.
Power Pro Productions has added a bunch of new elements to the game. The biggest new feature is the PoTaCa card system. PoTaCa cards are used both for unlocking content in the game and as item/stat cards in the all new Pawagacha player creation mode. In this latter mode of play, you create players by collecting random ability capsules and setting them into slots. The PoTaCa cards are used to enhance the player's abilities beyond the capsules.
The game offers improved wireless features on the whole. A new messaging system is included, allowing you to exchange messages automatically with up to ten players who pass by. The messages can contain PoTaCa cards, making this a cool way to exchange items. You can also obtain PoTaCa cards by accessing Wi-Fi access points. Each access point offers only a particular set of cards, so Konami encourages players to try out various access points. Game sharing is now included, allowing multiplayer play through a single game disc. When using this feature, you only have access to one ball park, and there's no color commentary.
Next up is a switch hitter this year, also from Konami. Pro Yakyuu Spirits 4, aka Pro Baseball Spirits 4, is on its way to both the PS3 and PS2, with a Japanese release set for 4/1. Spirits, Konami's real-proportioned baseball series, has updated visuals for the PlayStation 3, with realistic facial expressions and motions.
Both versions include pennant mode, where you pick a team and attempt to win all; MVP mode, where you pick a player and lead him through five seasons; and Spirits mode, where you create a player and take him from camp all the way through the majors, expanding his abilities through cards, slots and actual games. Exclusive to the PS3 version is an online mode, offering free online play and rankings.
Closing off this year's lineup is a game from someone other than Konami. Bandai Namco Games has stepped up to plate with Pro Yakyuu Nessuta 2007, aka Pro Baseball Nessuta 2007, set for Japanese release on 4/5.
Nessuta is known for offering almost too many modes of play, and the latest entry is no slouch, with 10 modes offering everything from quick thrills to lengthy management. Here's a closer look.
Open: Select a team and enjoy a single game. You can set inning count, wind conditions and other options.
Dream League 2007: Manage a team, including your original creations, through up to 10 years.
Asunaro Dash!: Create an original player by playing mini games.
Time Slip: Take on challenges with classic players.
Highlight: Save big moments from games and review them later
Pennant: Aim for the pennant with your favorite team. You can play through up to five years.
Jinsei Mode: Select a player and lead him all the way through to retirement. Each month, you earn a records statement and can enhance your player's properties.
Arrange Mode: Create your own players and teams
Training: Learn the tricks of the game, with new navigation messages.
Last year's installment also included a little diversion called Famisuta Mode, basically a classic Namco 8-bit title updated with modern day stats. This year's title includes the same game, updated to reflect year 2007 stats. Don't worry, year 2007 data has also made it into the main game, giving us stats up to the end of the 2006 pennant race.
On the whole, a large lineup of baseball games this year. And it should get even larger once the season ends and everyone decides the time is right to release "final versions" of all these games.
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