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PSP Video Game Review: Jikkyou Pawafuru Puroyakyuu Portable (実況パワフルプロ野球ポータブル)

A great series on the console misses its mark for its debut on the PSP

TITLE: Jikkyou Pawafuru Puroyakyuu Portable (実況パワフルプロ野球)

DEVELOPER: PawaPuro Production

PUBLISHED BY: KONAMI

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

Fans of the Powerful Pro Yakyuu baseball games from Konami have wanted a PSP release. For those not familiar with the series, the baseball game features the professional baseball teams from the Central and Pacific League and the players in SD (Super-deformed) circular format incorporating the awesome commentary and fans screaming with their cheers and noisemaking that makes Japanese baseball so interesting.

I have been playing the game with the 7th release that came out on the Sony Playstation and have seen how this game has grown over the years by adding modes to build a player and so forth.

I will say that by playing a cool baseball game on the PSP such as MLB06: The Show, and seeing the awesome reviews for “Jikkyou Powerful Pro 12” and the upcoming “Jikkyou Powerful Major League” (yes, a JPPY version of the American MLB teams ala Super Deformed), I was curious of how “Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu Portable” would be on the PSP compared to other American PSP baseball games. Would it give me that awesome excitement of Japanese baseball on my PSP? Would I have as much fun as I have had with the game on other consoles?

MODES:

There are a several modes in the game:

Quick Play
Pennant Mode
Home Run Competition
Arrange Mode
Song Creation

GAMEPLAY:

In Pennant mode (Career mode), what makes Powerful Pro Yakuu different from any baseball game out there is that you can see what the status is of your player. In a screen that shows your players is a face showing if they are in a slump, if they playing well or great. Stats is a big part in Japanese video games and if you like to micromanage your team, then Powerful Pro Yakyuu is an import baseball game for you.

FIELDING – The fielding of the game is not like your typical baseball game. Hit a ball and it zooms straight to the player, for “Powerful Pro Yakyuu”, the camera angle is at an angle. You don’t get a sense of speed or running to get a high flying ball. Defensive moves that you are so used to seeing in the current baseball games, you won’t see to much in this game which is a shame.

PITCHING – Where in the Playstation and PS2 version, you get a great handle on pitching. How pitching is done is that you see on the top screen of the catcher and in the bottom screen, the batter. By using the nub stick, you select where you want to pitch and you select the different type of pitches that the pitcher can do. Problem is that it’s a bit difficult to get accurate pitching with the nub stick.

BATTING – Batting is probably the easiest thing to do in this game. Using the nub stick to bring your character in to a pitch is quite easy. But the difficulty in the game is that if the player is in a slump, not much you can do with your batting. If they are not feeling well or if they are in a slump, they are not going to hit well. Whereas, playing “MLB06: The Show”, playing the Yankees….with each player at bat, it’s up to you as how you control your character. No need to worry if your player is in a slump or not. You get different results each time at bat. With JPPY, you will know right away how the batter is going to hit and to find a pinch hitter who is not in a slump, well that’s the challenge in this game.

There are also many modes in this game to further micromanage and build your team.

Interesting enough, they added the sound creation mode which actually ads a piano keys and a system to actually create music. Reminiscent of the music creation software available on the PS2.

Data management is also interesting in this game where you can manage data with players from your PS2 game and also PC to your PSP (or PSP to PSP)

GRAPHICS:

After seeing how MLB06: The show has taken baseball to the PSP with great looking stadiums and fields, I was a bit taken back with the look of this game on the PSP. It looks as if the graphics were like the Playstation days. Basic and 3D for the stadium and field, even the crowd are just blurs of color. The crowd and the overall look is nowhere close to the current PPY12 game for the PS2 or GameCube. It’s more on sync with what I saw back in the 90’s for the PSX. No shine to a helmet, no face to a crowd. Too basic for the stadium, field and most of all the SD characters itself. After seeing several baseball games out for the PSP, I was disappointed with how the graphics turned out for JPPY for the PSP.

SOUND:

The sound is the best thing of JPPY. Every Power Pro Yakyuu game excels with great commentary and the fans getting rowdy for their team. This enhances the feeling to watch a Japanese baseball game.

USER-FRIENDLY TO NON-JAPANESE SPEAKERS

Unfortunately not. There is a lot of Japanese to read in this game and only because I played the games in the past before and through a lot of trial and error in the past, helped me understand this game and what to do. You can definitely figure out pennant mode and play a quick game but with multiple modes and a lot of Japanese, it may be difficult to figure other modes out. But you should be able to figure out the basics through trial and error.

I really enjoy the series and the game has so many modes for the fans of this game. But the PSP release has its problems. One: It’s not easy. Two: Fielding and pitching is not easy on the PSP due to the controls and next thing you know…what could have been a low scoring game is blown to 16 to 5 game. I have played many versions of this game and I was surprised to see how difficult the computer is on the PSP. So bad, that I had to set my options for automatic pitching and automatic fielding and I just control the batting. Three: Graphics is jut blah…. It’s not ugly bad…it’s just looked overly simplistic and basic looking compared to the kind of Power Pro Yakyuu that we have seen on the PS2. There is no detail to the field or the crowd.

Nothing really exciting…during the homeruns, no type of cool animation to make defensive plays. Sometimes it just looks slow, sloppy and sometimes it looks as it lags from time to time.

I know that a big part of this game is micromanagement, rather than just going into the game and just playing it (which I’m so used to with US baseball games). But in this game, you can develop your baseball team via pitching and batting. Arrange mode helps you create your own player and develop the character. Heck, even the current PS2 version allows for building a baseball team to get a bigger stadium and bringing in more fans. That’s how much the fans love the micromanagement in this game.

But even if you did create your own multiple baseball teams and players, with micromanagement being its saving grace, it’s not a lone factor to make a baseball game exciting when the actual gameplay is not to exciting and the presentation is not fun too look at.

I enjoy Japanese baseball and although it would be unfair to compare this game to the PS2 releases, seeing what has been released in Japan on the PS2 for JYYP and seeing what type of baseball games have been released in the US on the PSP, I feel that the game looks as if it was rushed. I don’t understand why things look too simplistic and why the controls are a bit spotty. I really wanted to enjoy this game since I am a fan of the series but I can’t recommend it.

I hope they improve the look of this game or at least give us an awesome Pro Yakyuu Spirits game for the PSP in the near future but sports games are to progress with great gameplay and cool graphics to support that gameplay. We have seen it done… unfortunately, not in this game.

OVERALL SCORE: 72%/100

PRO:
+ Finally, Jikkyou Power Pro Yakyuu comes to the PSP and if you enjoy Japanese baseball, a series to try out.
+ All baseball teams and current roster is presented and the usual JPPY Super Deformed style.
+ A lot of modes to micromanage your team and create music.
+ Play JPPY with friends via AdHoc if they have the game.
+ The sound of the commentator and crowd chants will be a major positive for JPPY.

CONS:
– The game looks too basic for a game released in 2006 (it’s like playing a mid-90’s JPPY game) and animation and lag tend can get sloppy.
– Micromanagement is cool if it has a cool gameplay and cool graphics to go along with it.
– May not be user-friendly to non-Japanese readers
– The game is difficult due to non-precise controls which makes it a bit difficult to control for fielding and pitching using the nub stick.

Reviewer’s Score: 7/10

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