Developer 10tons has been fairly busy when it comes to the Nintendo Switch’s first year, releasing a number of smaller titles on the Nintendo eShop – everything from arcade shooters involving aliens to orb firing puzzlers and even a word based role-playing game. Their next venture, however, named Baseball Riot is a sequel to the previously released Tennis to the Face – a game that despite featuring a completely different sport, shares a lot of similarities to its predecessor.
A series of newspaper headlines outline the game’s simple story. You play as Gabe Carpaccio, a baseball player who unfortunately finds himself injured as a vicious pitch catches him in the knee. Now relegated to selling used sports gear, it’s now up to this once famed baseball star to save his former team from the evil company called Explodz Inc. How do you go about this? By making your way through a series of physics-based puzzles of course! If you happen to have played Tennis to the Face before then you should be familiar with things here, even the visual style.
Puzzles themselves play out in an almost Angry Birds-like fashion, the aim being to hit baseballs at enemies scattered around a 2D plane. These are filled with walls and a number of obstacles you’ll need to bounce your projectiles around. Every level in Baseball Riot will provide you with a set number of balls – a limit that you’ll need to make the most of in order to not only eliminate the enemy but also hit three collectable stars tucked away within its nooks.
Whereas other Angry Bird-esque games will award you stars based on your performance, it’s an interesting take here to have you physically get them yourself. Suddenly you’re not just concerned with defeating everything on screen but also trying to grab all three stars in the process too. And when you do manage to bat a hit that takes out a string of enemies along with a couple of stars too it can be satisfying. Plus collecting these shiny prizes is something you’ll want to do since they also happen to unlock further puzzles and areas of the world map.
Every new area of the map unlocked will introduce a handful of new stages as well as its own stadium each of which offer a couple of challenges. These are nothing out of the ordinary however and might require you to simply earn at least two stars on each stage within that section or eliminate a certain number of enemies in one hit. Environments look and feel the same albeit with the odd colour change while the overall visual design feels like something you’d see from the old Cartoon Network shows. I have to admit seeing enemies ragdoll when you nail them with the ball can raise the odd smile.
Stages start out relatively easy pitting you against a puzzle occupied with the most basic of opponents – rowdy baseball fans. You’ll rarely find yourself having too much trouble walking away from these opening puzzles with all three stars in fact. As the game progresses though, stages will become more complex throwing in varying foes such as umpires who thanks to their protective padding need to be hit from behind, as well as environmental hazards like exploding boxes or ice blocks.
All in all, it’s nothing that we haven’t already seen before from games like this, the gameplay lacking real excitement or surprise of any kind. It’s a reliable experience sure but it never becomes more than that. And while there is some variety in the game’s 100-plus puzzles you end up facing, it never feels enough to prevent repetition from slowly creeping in. Baseball Riot feels very much like a game designed for short bursts as opposed to hour-long sessions. It’s ideal for those short journeys or while you’re waiting for an update on another game for example.
The game supports the Switch’s touchscreen or can be played with the Joy-Con, both fine enough options for such a simple controlling game. It also runs well whether playing in docked or handheld mode.
Baseball Riot is a simple, sometimes fun Angry Birds-inspired download that’s a neat enough distraction in short sessions but may lose its appeal when exposed to the player for too long. We’ve seen these kinds of games before and if you’re in the market for one on Switch then this certainly delivers just that.