Konami’s popular Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu series has finally come to the US as MLB Power Pros, bringing the stars of Major League Baseball to the Wii and PlayStation 2 in all their miniaturized, super-deformed glory. The players and other characters in MLB Power Pros may be missing legs, mouths and fingers, but they make up for this with their unnaturally large heads and inordinate amounts of charm. Not since the days of Super Dodge Ball has cute been combined with sport in such an endearing fashion.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Cheer
The controls are easy enough to wrap your head around, both on the PS2 and Wii. When at the plate, you’ll use the analog stick to move your target around the strike zone, with a larger area for making contact swings, and a smaller crosshair for taking a big swing. The greater your player’s contact score, the bigger the sweet spot on your bat, but every player’s big swing target is the same size. If aiming the sweet spot is too hard for you, there’s even a lock-on mode you can select that will assist here, making it far easier to be successful at the plate. If you’re playing the Wii version of the game, you can disconnect the nunchuk and play with just the Wii remote like you would in Wii Sports. There’s no aiming involved in this mode, just timing your swing correctly for the best results.
Pitching is controlled very similarly to batting. You’ll first select the type of pitch using the analog stick, and then set up the location of your pitch in the strike zone. Pressing a button lets it fly, with the final location of your pitch based on your pitcher’s control rating, as well as the type of pitch you selected. Fast balls will generally hit the target you intended, while you’ll have to keep breaking balls in mind when trying to paint the corners. You can also set the pitching to an expert mode for additional challenge, which gives you improved control if you release the button at the exact time of release after the windup.
The most interesting mode available in MLB Power Pros is the Success RPG mode. Success mode drops you into the cleats of a first-year college athlete trying to make his way to the majors. Along the way, he’ll have to impress his coach, attend practices, take up a part-time job, and still find time to study and go on dates. All these aspects of college life are important to creating a prospective major league player, so it’s not a good idea to neglect recreation time.
Studying, for instance, allows you to retain more knowledge during practices, boosting your mentality points, which in turn will allow you to purchase abilities that influence the more cerebral parts of the game. A scholar will also be able to learn how to manipulate the hyper recovery system, which allows you to build bigger muscles. Maxing out your bookworm attribute will even let you learn new practice techniques, such as high-intensity workouts, or invent new rejuvenating items.