|System: Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 3, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Like in the US, Japan has several sports series that it holds close to its heart. One of those series is the Jikky? Powerful Pro Yaky? series of baseball games. It's no exaggeration when I tell you that this franchise is like the Madden of Japan. They go flippin' crazy for it. And their madness is truly understandable. Jikky? Powerful Pro Yaky? sports pick-up-and-play controls and a very unique visual style that includes extremely large heads. American fans of the series have long called it "big-headed baseball." And once you see a screenshot or two, you'll know why.
Importers long dreamed of a way to bring this classic franchise stateside, but figured it would be nearly impossible considering that one of the hallmark facets of the Jikky? Powerful Pro Yaky? franchise was that it featured real Japanese ball players. Which worked great over there, but not so much over here. But finally, the folks at 2K have brought this remarkable franchise to our shores! And it's good!
The very first thing that must be discussed about MLB Power Pros is the gameplay style. Fans of the original series will be very happy to know that the controls and basic concept of the game are still firmly intact. In fact, with the Wii version you can even control the game using the GameCube or Classic controllers. But never fear, the Wii-mote and Nunchuck controls are very tight as well, and don't really use motion sensing in the regular gameplay. So if you're a newbie to the Power Pros series, you may prefer the Wii-mote and Nunchuck combo. But if you crave that retro feeling, the classic/GameCube control setting will probably appeal to you the most.
Once you decide on how you're going to control, you have some serious decisions to make because there are quite a few modes to play in. First up, there's the practice mode, which essentially teaches you the basics of the game. You can also develop certain skills on different modes, and get a feel for the game. Then you can go on to Exhibition mode, where you can play a generic match with up to two players. But there are three fairly crucial gameplay modes that will have you coming back to this game again and again.
The first mode, and my personal favorite, is Success mode. And the most appealing thing about this mode is how little it focuses on baseball. You may have a somewhat confused expression on your face, but hear me out on this one. You start the game as a first-year college student with a tremendous passion for baseball. But before you become a starter for the team, you'll have to go through the motions like every other college student. That means making friends, getting a part time job, studying, and getting those precious hours of baseball practice in. And you only have a certain amount of stamina to use every day. And while you're trying to get in as many hours of practice in, there's always some issue that comes up, like a looming exam or a decided lack of money. And during your first year, you won't even play one game. But you'll be forming relationships with other members on the team, making money, and even attracting members of the opposite sex! And if you've spent enough time on your baseball practice (and not going on dates), you'll play in your first game during your second year. And then it's up to you to show not only your teammates but also talent scouts that you've got what it takes!
The real beauty of success mode lies in its ability to create one of the only realistic college sports experiences out there. Sure other games include drafts and other factors, but what other series has you time managing for part-time jobs and dates? This is what the average college athlete goes through, and while there might not be an exclusive focus on the actual sport of college baseball, it really captures the total experience of making it to the pros from college with life included. This mode is really what made the franchise so popular way-back-when on the Super Famicom, and it's no wonder that it still holds up quite well, even today.