All-Star Baseball 2003
I know baseball can be done right on GBA. Just look at the awesome Baseball Advance that shipped earlier in the season. All Star Baseball 2003 pulls up short in almost every category when comparing the two titles and winds up leading to more frustration than fun.
On the surface, this game looks harmless enough. The graphics are decent and the stadiums are very detailed. The player models are respectable and the animations get the job done. The batting interface uses the same cursor-based system as the game on the next gen systems and it is actually easier to hit. Pitching the ball is also a breeze. So what went wrong?
Base running. Nothing is more frustrating in a baseball game than poor base running and it is abysmal in this game. Players wearing cement shoes would run faster than the players in this game. Turning double plays requires no urgency as you have all the time in the world. There are even times the runner will be thrown out at first before he is even 10 steps away from home plate. I had a runner on first and hit the ball back up the middle into center field. The center fielder played the ball and threw to second base to get my runner out by 15 feet. To make matters worse, your runners never lead off. I tried to figure out how to do it but was unsuccessful.
My other major beef with the game is the player stats. Since this game just came out, my assumption is the stats were based off of last season. Since I am a huge Seattle Mariners fan, I picked them to play for the season. I knew something was awry when the team that won a record 116 games last year had an overall ranking in the 70's. When batting, the batting cursor adjusts in size to the skill of the hitter so the better the player is, the larger his batting cursor will be, or that is what you would think. I stepped up to the plate with Ichiro, the AL batting champ last year (hit .350) and his cursor is so small you would think he hit .150. Later on, Mike Cameron steps up (he hit about .265 last year) and his cursor is huge! Don't even get me started on Jamie Moyer and his 97 MPH fastball.
Baseball is a game of details and All Star Baseball 2003 missed the boat on the minor details. The game is fundamentally solid but when you can't tell which outfielder has a play on a fly ball because both outfielders are off the screen, you'll become extremely frustrated. I don't mind a challenging game of baseball but only if I feel I had the opportunity to succeed. Throw in the dog-slow base running and you will be shutting off your GBA with a frown on your face more often than a smile.