Baseball is back! Well, at least Pro Yakyuu Spirits is back with Pro Yakyuu Spirits 19 on the PlayStation 4. It has been four long years since Konami, developer of the PYS series, has released a console version of their highly acclaimed series, and the first on the current-generation hardware. It has been a long wait for fans of the series, so now we find out if the wait was worth it.
What I Like
Regardless of what type of baseball game you play, the importance of the ball and bat interaction plays a large part in the success and enjoyment of that game. Thankfully, PYS ’19 does a beautiful job of not only delivering realistic physics when it comes to hitting, but also provides multiple types of options and mechanics for the user to choose from and enjoy.
For me, I went with self-adjust hitting on hard difficulty, which allows the user to self-adjust the ball cursor when making contact with the ball. I love this style as it replicates zone-hitting options of other baseball games from the current and past. The game also allows the use of timed hitting, and a type of gravitational hitting in which, depending on the level the user chooses, the cursor will moderately to strongly gravitate towards the ball as it comes towards the plate.
No matter what style you feel is right for you, the physics and reaction of the ball coming off the bat are exceptionally well done, and the higher the difficulty the more hit variety you will see throughout the game.
There are many ways to approach the game of baseball when it comes to presentation and graphics, and Konami has chosen a natural look that adheres to the standard “baseball simulation” style. The animations are fluid for the most part but seem to shine a bit more at the plate than in the field. That’s not to say the fielding and throwing animations are bad because they’re not, but the amount of animations seems a bit more limited and repetitive in the field when compared to what I see at the plate.
Graphically, PYS ’19 delivers in almost every aspect of the game. The ballparks are alive with fans reacting to the game and moving around throughout, and the player models are just as well done. On top of the ballparks and player models, the facial scans for most players are beautiful to look at and have a very realistic tone to them. The overall graphics and animations are not what I would consider genre-defining and may struggle as a whole against the best of the best in the world of sports video games, but overall the look of PYS ’19 is a clean, realistic approach that is immersive.
For me, the sound of a baseball game is every bit important as the physics and look of that title, and PYS ’19 once again delivers on that front. From the sound of the ball making contact with the bat, the ball “popping” into the glove, to the reactionary celebrations and devastation of the crowd, the ambiance of PYS ’19 delivers an experience that consistently reminds us we are at the ballpark.
The commentary of PYS ‘19 is in Japanese so I understood very little of it. Regardless, it was fluid, emotional and felt timely, and the call of the umpire was emphatic and timely. Overall, PYS ’19 does an excellent job of replicating a day at the ballpark, whether those seats be behind home plate, section 407 in the upper-deck or standing in the on-deck circle.
Game Mode Options
Konami has delivered an excellent set of modes for the user to choose from, and that is never a bad thing. Want to create a high-school player and see where your career goes? Go for it. Want to take over one of the 12 Nippon Professional Baseball teams and fight for a championship? Have at it. From batting practice to home run derby to manager-only mode and online head-to-head play, PYS’19 comes through with a mode for just about anything you could want to play.
That said, some of these modes are extremely deep and immersive, and the language barrier for many can be a huge detraction — one I will get into a little bit later. Overall though, PYS ’19 offers some excellent depth for a baseball title, and multiple options and ways for people to enjoy it.
What I Don’t Like
If you can’t tell yet, I love what Konami has delivered this year with PYS ’19, and it holds up very well against most other sports titles that are available to play today. The biggest issue, and it’s a big one, is the language barrier. Most of the game is delivered and presented in Japanese, and this barrier can create a huge fluctuation in how enjoyable PYS ’19 is for someone. So, modes like Dream League, Sokuho Play and Pennant Chase can require a lot of translation if one is trying to understand every aspect of these game options.
Thankfully, you can go to spiritstranslation.com, as a go-to source for quick translation and guidance. The site offers a basic breakdown of the game for free, or for a small $10 donation. The site also provides a full analysis and screen translation of every option and mode. Now, the translation is not fully completed at the time of this review, but a large percentage of it is available now to utilize and is a tremendous asset to have in your corner.
If Konami were willing to include an English translation, then suggesting you find a spot in your rotation for PYS ’19 would be stunningly simple. The game plays beautifully on the field, offers up a tremendous amount of depth and delivers on almost every front. The issue is and always will be are you willing to take the time to learn the game, navigate the game screens and options, and do it enough to where it becomes an afterthought? Once again, Spirits Translation does an excellent job of breaking down each screen and mode, but it still requires you to absorb that information and continuously use the site as a reference.
If you are willing to utilize the translations site, you know Japanese already or are eager to put in the effort to use screen translations, then PYS ’19 is a must-purchase for any baseball fan with a PS4.