Homerun Hitters (PlayStation Minis) Review – Notting to Bat For

Sony has something like the Minis program in Japan in “Zaku Zaku”. It includes some Minis like Shogi as well as other games that looks like will not fit the Minis category in other territories. Part of this Zaku Zaku line is a series of games meant to be played by two people on one PSP, turning it vertically and each person taking one end.  Homerun Hitters is also part of that line and as such, you should probably add a point or two to the score if played with another person.

Homerun Hitters is a re-creation of arcade baseball. The mechanical sort, bearing some resemblance to a pinball game. A metal ball is sent from a hole with a little figure of a pitcher, towards a flipper with a little figure of a batter. You press a button to move the flipper which whacks the ball, sending it into the playing field.

If it hits a hole by a figure of a position player it’s an out. But if it manages to make it all the way through it goes off the board and into little baskets with varying labels. Some of these labels are outs, but others correspond to hits – singles, doubles, triples and of course, the home run. The object is to score more runs than your opponent.

Hitting is really not that much different from modern video games, mostly a matter of timing. Making contact with the ball is easy enough, but hitting it where you want is the key and the tricky part. You can actually get into a pretty good groove, but this is complicated by sometimes having your batter hit the other way (left or right).

Pitching is somewhat more varied. You can control the speed of the ball, where you throw it, and most importantly, whether or not it actually reaches the plate. If you hit the trigger, the ball will “magically disappear” (go down a slot) so the batter can’t make contact.

There are actually some options. You can pick from four different teams and their stadiums. I really didn’t notice much difference in the first two options for teams (ball speed and slow ball), but the third, defense, determines how big the hole in front of your fielder is.

The stadium is a much more important option. The holes that the balls fall into at the end of the board are vastly different in each one. In one stadium, where the whole middle of the outfield is a home run, you can pretty much hit them out there all day (or until you get bored). But in another stadium, that same location would be labeled an out.

Is it mildly entertaining? Yes. Would I play it if there was anything else available? Probably not. Also, for one player, it’s perfectly playable holding a PSP normally. On the one hand, it’s only $1.99. On the other, there are full-fledged, very detailed soccer (football) simulations that are Minis for only a little more, and this is really weak by comparison.

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