Pro Yakyuu Spirits might be the best playing baseball game in the world.
Before delving into Pro Yakyuu Spirits 2012, I’m going to refer you to my impressions of the 2011 version of this annual Japanese baseball franchise.This article details the basics of gameplay, most of which hasn’t changed drastically since last year. Pro Yakyuu Spirits 2012 still represents a stellar baseball game, with tremendous graphics, atmosphere and ball physics.
However, most of the changes offered will probably be of little consequence to casual followers of the series (a group I firmly lump myself into). The graphics look a little better, especially cut-scenes and crowd shots. The ball physics are surprisingly more fluid.
I also find the default settings to present a bit more of a challenge, though I’m still able hack and make contact with ease (that’s not to say I get hits easily). And, apparently, there is a new announcer.
Outside of these changes, most will find a similar experience as last year. Rather than rehashing what makes this game so good -- again -- check the aforementioned article, or this review at Spirits Translations. I’ll break down whether this game might be for you .
Spirits 2012 is definitely worth picking up if you:
1. Are willing to work: This game naturally requires a great deal of effort to enjoy, primarily because most of it isn’t in English. Thankfully, a great deal of resources for the non-Japanese speakers wishing to engage in a different baseball experience is available at http://www.spiritstranslation.com. Still, constantly needing to check a website while playing can be tiring and time consuming.
2. Enjoy interesting modes: There are a number of different modes in this game, including the unique Grand Prix mode. Grand Prix is a card-based game where you build a team and progress through various tournaments. It’s definitely deeper than The Show’s Diamond Dynasty.
3. Possess an interest in Japanese Baseball: A major hurdle for many sports gamers will be a lack of familiarity with teams, players, playoff formats, etc. This shouldn’t necessarily prevent you from jumping in; in fact, it’s a great way to learn about a different culture and its sporting traditions.
4. Are willing to try something new: Again, there’s a lot of very nice things to discover within Spirits 2012, but it functions very differently than your average American baseball game. For instance, not only can you swing for contact or power, there’s a different button for pull and opposite field swings.
5. Are willing to invest more than time: Getting this game will run you a bit more than your average game as well, since it’s being imported from a different part of the world. Shipping can quickly push the cost of this game up to $100. PlayAsia is a popular site and a good place to start.
I’d say if you can identify with at least four of these statements, Pro Yakyuu Spirits 2012 is a worthwhile experience. It is a fantastic looking and smooth playing baseball game, with lots of depth waiting to be explored. If you are a bit leery about diving in, you can get previous versions slightly cheaper on eBay. Still, this is a game, and a series, that true fans of baseball need to play at least once.
If you are a diehard Pro Yakyuu Spirits fan, let us know what you think about this year's version. If you are new to the series, check out our "Other Baseball" forum.