Angry Bats: Baseball Riot (Switch) Impressions



 

Remember Angry Birds?

It was a white-hot cultural phenomenon, a mobile game that took the world by storm and spawned a feature film, along with an endless array of licensed merchandise. The original hook was deceptively simple: Fire a projectile at a group of targets, then watch with anticipation to see if you can clear the level with your latest shot. The interaction between objects gave every action a weighty sense of potential, and presented many casual gamers with physics-puzzle mechanics they had never quite seen before. Between the simplicity that meant even a child could play, but making every stage a riddle that rewarded tactical thinking, the formula was set for an addictive experience.

Drawing from the same well, developer 10tons came up with Baseball Riot (or, more accurately, they came up with Tennis In The Face with Baseball Riot as its sequel), a physics puzzler with a baseball theme originally released for mobile. Instead of throwing in an arc like Angry Birds, the projectiles in Baseball Riot start on a straight-line path and bounce a few times that way before degrading to gravity susceptibility. And, in one last Angry Birds comparison, instead of trying to kill pigs you are trying to eliminate various baseballers from fans to players to umpires to scientists and beyond.

 

 

To lend a sense of nobility to your quest, there is a light backstory involving a corrupt organization, energy drink company Explodz Inc., taking over our protagonist Gabe Carpaccio’s baseball franchise. Controlling Gabe, your task is to clear each stage of all opposing characters within a limited number of balls batted. Each level also has three stars, which can be hit by the balls in the process, and count as a sort of bonus that not only represents clearing the board more skillfully but may be necessary to unlock additional areas.

See, there’s an overworld, and for each region on the map, you unlock levels one by one as you complete them. Then, when you have accomplished a certain goal per region, you get to travel to a new region of levels altogether, with each region introducing a new type of character to challenge you.

 

 

There are also environmental hazards, or helps; stuff that bounces, explodes, stops, or otherwise interacts with the balls batted. You can also earn additional balls per level, I think, by doing stuff like killin’ three dudes in one hit, and there’s headshots, and…

Full disclosure: I have not finished the game. This is more of an Impressions piece than a true Review, I guess, even if I think you can often give a capable review of a game without completing the ful–

Look, my point is, Baseball Riot is a fine game. It runs smoothly, gameplay is fairly intuitive, and the cartoony visual style is crisp and flavorful throughout. I’m not sure why I have to choose “Map” from the menu and restart a level from the overworld rather than just select a “Retry” option from the menu if I just want to start a level over, but that might be my biggest qualm.

That, and my own tastes as a player. I totally understand why some people love this kind of game — the incremental progress you make, clearing one stage at a time, represents a very clear reward mechanic. The bouncing chaos of the balls (and ragdoll foes) means that, if a level is possible to clear, than the required angles to do so are possible to find at random, making for the occasional hilarious moment of clearing stages serendipitously.

But then you have the levels that are difficult, and require trial and error. … I am not someone who enjoys trial and error. Some people may feel an immense sense of satisfaction when they finally clear a stage after dozens of attempts. In a game like this, I do not.

It’s not you, Baseball Riot. It’s me.

 

 

Some people will really like Baseball Riot, especially if you’re searching for an experience like this on your Nintendo Switch, where it releases on Friday (Jan 19th). While I may come back to it occasionally to try and progress, it hasn’t quite caught my attention or my enjoyment as well as more preferable games have. Your mileage may vary.

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It’s my understanding that, with this port, 10tons’ full catalog is now available for the Switch, and I imagine their future releases will try to be there as well. I dig Neon Chrome, so I may have to keep an eye on Tesla Vs. Lovecraft arriving on Steam later this month.

 

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