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Little League World Series Baseball 2008 has some solid kids baseball fun and a good introduction to the sport. Offering a league mode, fast paced exhibition matches and a range of mini-game Little League should spark an ongoing interest in baseball.
Baseball is incredibly popular where I live in Japan. Koshien, home of fan favourite Hanshin Tigers is only about thirty minutes away. To put that in context this is a team so popular Nintendo made a branded Gamecube in its honour after they won the league in 2003. Yet all of passion shown at these events pales in comparison to the emotions shown at the youth and high school games. Passion seen in the Japanese school baseball league is hard to match. The raw emotions shown by the children gives a real sense of drama to events, and while I may disagree with making such a spectacle of sobbing children, I cannot deny it does make the whole event more involving.
All of this passion is really not conveyed in Activision's Little League licence. Borrowing teams from a number of junior leagues I was even able to select the local Hanshin Tigers junior team and try to lead them to victory in the international league. Cartoony characters may not convey the same emotion as their real life counterparts, but I still found myself enjoying the game and engaged by it, despite (or perhaps because of) its expressive cartoony aesthetic.
Despite my limited knowledge of the sport Little League World Series Baseball 2008 was instantly accessible and, thanks to the game cutting all the dead time from between plays, I was happy to find myself constantly active. A single game tended to last me around half an hour, in part thanks to the number of innings being cut from nine to six (as per the official Little League rules). By upping the pace the game created a feeling of pressure throughout. With almost no time to relax I found that when I wasn't swinging my controller to pitch or bat, I was shaking it to make my fielders or batter run. Initially it felt chaotic but as I became accustomed to the mechanics it began to draw me in by requiring my constant attention.
From fielding positions to the mechanics of batting and pitching, every element had its own simple mechanic, but it was only with time that the intricacies of the game were revealed
Though I gained a quick grasp of individual actions, I started to see there was significantly more going than I could comprehend. From fielding positions to the mechanics of batting and pitching, every element had its own simple mechanic, but it was only with time that the intricacies of the game were revealed. Slowly I realised that that my lack of baseball knowledge was having a detrimental affect on my game through poor tactical choices and fielding positions.
Thankfully mini-games allowed me to muck around with the basic controls with out fear of ruining my play through the league, also proving a great diversion with friends. The ability to play a number of these side games with multiplayer it almost felt like I had a baseball centric Wii Sports on the disk. Games such as knocking down bowling-pins and tick-tack-toe utilize the pitching and batting mechanics to provide entertaining competitive party play when a full game felt like too much effort.
Little League World Series Baseball 2008 dodges the seriousness of a real simulation of the sport, and is considerably more accessible and fun for it. Providing an easy entry to the baseball genre it offers plenty to do. Even with only a passing interest in the sport I found it constantly entertaining thanks to the variety of modes and the constant fast paced action.
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