Major League Baseball 2K8 Fantasy All-Stars Preview (NDS)

Let’s just get this out of the way: the art style in this game is absolute acid-trip induced madness. The mostly pastel color palette mixed with the extremely exaggerated body parts (huge calves and forearms, rail-thin wrists) will ensure that you realize from the get-go this game is not based on reality. And if the player models don’t give away the arcade-like nature of this game, then the fact that you play in such places as Alcatraz, Area 51, and an Aztec Temple should.

Bottom line, if you’re expecting MLB 2K8 Fantasy All-Stars to be simulation-based then just stop reading now. If you’re interested in reading about a MLB licensed fantasy style baseball game built entirely around touch screen controls then read on.

This over-the-top DS baseball game is being developed by Deep Fried Entertainment, a relatively new studio based out of Vancouver. Deep Fried Entertainment has only one finished product under its belt -- Full Auto 2: Battlelines (PSP) -- and many of the current staffers originally worked on such titles as Need for Speed: Underground.

Now since this game will either succeed-or-fail (at least critically) based on the DS inspired controls, I think it would be best to just talk about said controls in this preview. There’s online multi-player, a training mode, tournament mode, exhibition mode, and create-a-team (limited obviously) but on the diamond is where this game really matters, so here’s a breakdown of each of the main aspects of the on the diamond action.


The most gameplay depth can be found in this game while pitching. To pitch in Fantasy All-Stars you will use the touch screen to draw baseball pitches with the stylus. First off you place the baseball that can be found on your touch screen in a desired position. From there you take your stylus and draw out one of the six motions (fastball, change-up, curveball, knuckle ball, slider, screw ball) and then finish by doing a downward motion as fast as possible with the stylus. So if I want to do a fastball I draw a straight downward line as fast as possible. However if I want to do a curve ball I need to do a curved downward motion.

There’s depth to the pitching mechanic because you need to remember how to do some of the more complex pitches like the knuckle and screw ball, and also because you need to be able to do a downward motion as fast as possible while still doing a straight line to get the ball over the plate. Also certain powerups become available as you succeed in the game, which you will need to know how to use effectively. Some of the pitching powerups include a fireball pitch, a splitter where the ball itself splits into two, and a ball which actually is invisible upon being thrown.
Basically, while the pitching controls themselves are easy to get used to, you won’t really remember how to do a knuckle or screw ball until you do the training mode a bit and really memorize the motions.


Now if your pitch happens to get hit then the one area where the controls aren’t entirely touch screen based comes into play. You use the control pad or face buttons to move your fielder and the triggers to switch fielders. Unsurprisingly, the controls that aren’t touch screen based are the shakiest. This is because moving your fielder can be somewhat of an inexact science due to the d-pad -- not that it’s entirely the fault of the d-pad. The problem arises because you need to hold the DS with one hand so you can use the stylus with the other hand, thereby making it difficult to move the fielder accurately at times because the DS is unbalanced in your hand.

Nonetheless, as you run down a ball you can dive by drawing a downward motion or jump by drawing an upward motion. Once you have the ball you can throw to each base based on the motion you draw with the stylus. That means if you want to throw it to first drag the stylus right, to throw it to second draw an upward motion, and so forth for third and home. There’s also some powerups that can be used here such as a rocket throw and a super jump.


When you step into the box you will control your hitter via a batting meter on the touch screen. You drag the touch screen bat to the bottom of a circular meter and await the pitch. As the pitch approaches you swing through the meter with the stylus as fast as you can. If you swing towards the inside of the meter than you will hit a grounder; if you swing towards the outside of the meter you will hit the ball in the air.

Much like pitching, the skill comes into play because you need to effectively balance speed and accuracy. Whipping the stylus through the meter in just the right way will result in a hard hit ball, but whipping it through sloppily will result in pop-outs or groundouts -- both of which I was hitting often at first.


Lastly, if you do happen to get on base then you need to be able to run the bases. You steal a base by simply holding a trigger and drawing a line between two bases. The baserunner will automatically steal once the pitcher throws the ball.

To advance runners once the ball is in play just draw a line between two bases or stop a runner by touching the stylus in-between two bases. With multiple runners on base you draw a line between first and thirst to advance all runners; draw a line from third to first to retreat the runners; or press in the middle of the diamond to stop all runners.

At This Point

The controls and art style have actually been a pleasant surprise. I certainly need to spend more time with the game to gauge whether or not the controls will continue to please, but they do appear to have some depth while staying mostly simple to pick-up-and-play. As for the graphics, they have a Team Fortress 2 feel to them, and it’s nice to see a different take on arcade-style graphics. The safe route would have been to just do a The BIGS style, completely roided out look, but Deep Fried Entertainment decided to go out on a limb instead.

However this game may be in trouble once you get outside the gameplay itself. There’s a rather limited amount of gameplay modes offered, and if the online play ends up having issues (no one is on to play against right now) then arguably the mode with the most replay value will be useless.

Major League Baseball 2K8 Fantasy All-Stars will be available for the Nintendo DS this April 14th, check back then for the OperationSports review.

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