Casual sports games of the past are now all but a distant memory. The addictive pick-up-and-play style offerings have not been an option for quite some time as presently more detailed and intricately designed sports games flood retail shelves. But is there still a market for these simplistic sports titles? When the Nintendo Wii launched with Wii Sports one year ago, the system itself had little to offer from a gaming standpoint other than some “gimmicky” motion-sensitive control setup, yet the system was impossible to find anywhere on store shelves. When going through the living room of anyone who owns one of these small, white consoles, one would inevitably find someone(s) playing Wii Sports. This would suggest that there continues to be a market for these types of games. But even the simplest of titles require some form of strategy. Last week, we provided some insight into the art of Wii Tennis. In part two of Mastering Wii Sports, we will indulge ourselves in the mastery of Wii Baseball.
Any baseball fan will stress to you the importance of good pitching, but similar to any sport, offensive explosions are what garner the most interest. Who wants to see a 0-0 ball game going into the ninth inning? Only the most devout baseball fans, I would imagine. While there are only three innings in Wii Baseball, how can we make them as entertaining as possible by sneaking some points onto the scoreboard?
So often when someone is at bat in a game of Wii Baseball, he or she stands directly in front of the television. Therefore, they’re also standing directly in front of the plate. That, of course, is not how it is done in real life and nor should it be done in such a manner here. Assuming you are right-handed, you will want to stand to the left of the plate. I can hear you now: "This is Wii Sports! That can’t possibly make a difference!" There is a method to the madness, and this recommendation is no exception.
Taking a realistic stance to the plate will enable you to better time your swings. Doing so will give you a better feel for how you will hit the ball, and from my experience, hitting the ball with the center of the bat is far more effective at landing a big hit than with the top or back end.
Hitting a baseball in real life is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. It requires a lot of patience, anticipation and yes, even some guesswork. This is generally not the case in Wii Sports. Very rarely will you be thrown a pitch, either by the computer or a human opponent, which the computer will register as a ball. You are going to want to swing at almost every pitch (except, of course, the obvious balls which are out of your reach or coming tantalizingly close to sending your Mii into a concussed state). Patience comes into play here once you consider the variety and speeds of pitches you can be served. The timing of your swing is going to be different on every pitch so you can never truly fall into a comfort zone.
Lastly, it is important to put some power behind your swings! I know that some will be skeptical at first because theoretically you could very well play this game sitting down with the flick of a wrist, but guess what? The Wii’s sensor bar can detect the strength of a swing. Don’t believe me? Go into the homerun derby section of Wii Training and swing the Wii Mote ever so gently. It’s going to fall short of a homerun. Now get out of your La-Z-Boy and swing that bad boy as hard as you can. All of a sudden you’re looking like Ryan Howard in Citizen’s Bank. Coincidence? I think not.
As a public service announcement, I feel it is my duty to warn Wii ballers to tighten their wrist straps. This powerful hitting motion could be the death of any unfortunate television caught in the line of fire.
So now you can average nine runs a game. Big whoop. What is that going to do for you if you’re giving up ten? Pitching is the second half of Wii Baseball and much like hitting, there are a few simple things you can do to give yourself an edge over the competition. The goal here is to throw strikes so that you don’t have to worry about how the rest of your team will randomly field the ball. Will they make a huge leaping catch to save a home run, or will they let a fly ball drop in front of them then bounce behind them and roll around for a bit, leading to a triple? Who knows. Unfortunately, that outcome is beyond your control, so the best means of defense is to keep it from getting to that point.
To throw strikes, you have to get inside the head of your opposition. Whether that means mixing up your throws or sticking with what works is a strategy you must employ on your own. But here are a few things that may help you along the way.
First, just as with hitting the ball, pitching speed is affected by the amount of force you put behind the throwing motion of your Wiimote. If you’re going to throw a fastball, you’re going to want to put a lot of force behind your throw so that you don’t lull a 64 mph pitch down the center of the plate. That said, a simple fastball is not the only pitch you have at your disposal.
To throw the aforementioned fastball, all you have to do is go through the throwing motion. However, if you hold down the B button you will throw a curveball and if you hold down the A button you will throw a screwball. Holding A and B simultaneously while pitching will have you throwing a splitter. By using these four pitches in rotation, you can really throw off the timing of the batter, especially if he or she is human-controlled.
One final thing a pitcher can do in Wii Baseball is change his or her pitching style. This will have no affect on the speed or effectiveness of the pitch itself but again is simply a means of getting inside the batter’s head. Pressing the 1 or 2 button prior to the pitch will change a pitcher’s throw to either over or underhanded.
If you make use of these tips and skills in a methodical and tactical manner, you will find yourself squashing the opposition and forcing your buddies to submit to the dreaded mercy rule. Remember, Wii Baseball (much like its real life counterpart) is a patient man’s sport. Each opponent is going to vary in their tendencies on the mound and at the plate, and it is your responsibility to adjust accordingly.
Check in next week for part three of Mastering Wii Sports as we go bowling for turkeys in the spirit of Thanksgiving.