MLB Slugfest 2006 is the newest “action baseball” product from the creators of NBA Jam. It takes a baseball game and makes it into a cartoonish event, full of fights, punching, celebration dances, and other tomfoolery. It highlights the kind of actions that people hate about athletes and applies them to baseball players, who generally act with more class than this.
I got this game for $15 brand new, which may be too much, because I don’t think I’m going to be able to sell it anywhere for anywhere close to this, and I have no belief that I will ever get $15 worth of enjoyment out of this crap. It’s just about the worst game I’ve ever played.
My personal “I’m going to suck at this” moment was when I read the instruction book,, and saw that near the back of the book, there was a list of trick pitches with the button combinations needed to throw them. Oh great, combos. I’d say that the only combos I like are pretzel snacks and pizzas, but I don’t like these combos either. Needing to memorize an arbitrary collection of buttons that are needed to press in a specific order just to beat a game has always seemed somewhat silly to me. In fact, I hate it.
Besides, what is baseball about combinations? Is a pitcher going to through a hadouken or a sharyouken? (No, I don’t know how to spell them, and I am not on the Internet right now to look them up, and I’m not going to bother when I’m connected, either.) Why is he trying to knock out the batter with a spinning kick anyway? First, you get the strikeout, and if you can do the fatality, you get to rip the batter’s head off. This is not baseball.
The first time I tried the game, I was down 12-1 after two innings. I had managed to give up 7 inside the park homeruns because the fielding and throwing is so completely messed up. In order to throw to second base, for example, you push the right analog stick upwards. Every single time I did this, the fielder would throw to second, and the second baseman would then immediately throw to third. This means that if a runner were about to slide into second, you wouldn’t bother making a tag.
Now let’s suppose for a moment that I actually had the ball on the base, and the base runner was standing there. What this game actually allows to the runner to do is punch the fielder. An effective punch will make the fielder drop the ball and double over in pain. When this happens, the runner advances a base. Then this starts again. It’s fun to watch the game declare INSIDE THE PARK HOMER when a runner basically thugged his way around the bases. This is baseball for assholes.
The game has a season mode, and I decided it would be fun to create my own team and play a season. So I picked all the players from my fantasy team, the Hayward Cleavers (get it? Hey Ward Cleaver! Ha Ha!) and made them into a team. Then I get to assign them to a city — I picked San Francisco — and play a schedule. The game keeps statistics, which is fun. But before you get too excited, you should know that while Manny Ramirez plays for my team in the game, he is still playing on the Red Sox, so all his stats are doubled! So everyone on my team leads the league in everything! This sucks. One fun thing about Season Mode in a sports game is trying to be a league leader. Here, you just are one by default.
Overall, a weak effort that hardly seems playtested.