MLB SlugFest 20-03 Review

Leave it to Midway – the developer behind games like Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and Hydro Thunder – to take the game of baseball and transmute it into something completely different. MLB SlugFest 20-03 is one of the silliest baseball games ever and is one of few to have such a balanced combination of style, humor, and gameplay. Those looking for a baseball simulation best look elsewhere and are well warned: even the back cover has the statement “We call it SlugFest for a reason!” The reason: baseball it ain’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because people who find real baseball too slow or boring will absolutely love this game.

The basics of baseball — three strikes and you’re out, nine innings of play (although the game defaults to seven to speed it up), etc. – remain mostly intact. The biggest changes to the game are simplified pitching and hitting, a “Turbo” meter, sanctioned use of violence, and a seemingly magnetic ball being pulled outside the park. Gamers who underestimate how much significance these changes have on MLB SlugFest 20-03 will lose quickly and often.

The classic Midway gimmick, the turbo meter, is the key to victory. Using it nets quicker and crazier pitches, faster running and throwing, and harder swings at bat. Turbo depletes quickly however and strategically managing your reserves is important. As the game progresses, onscreen players burst into flames (their hands, feet, or both) gaining them infinite turbo until they’re tagged out or strike out, making them extremely powerful.

The graphics are outstanding, perhaps the best yet in a baseball game. The realistic elements — the stadiums, the players, and the fans — are well animated and thoroughly detailed. The sillier elements, such as the fist emitting flames, the turbo pitches, and the fighting are hypnotizing to behold. Everything in the game shines with a graphical polish not often seen in sports games and the whimsical elements somehow seem to fit right in.

All the sounds of the field have been faithfully reproduced and, for once, the announcers are actually funny. Some may find the comments and witty asides to be annoying, but they really do add to the whole lighthearted arcade feel. There is a large library of remarks, but as in any game with random comments, they will repeat themselves after about a dozen games or so.

Technically, the game does not fail to impress at every opportunity. The gameplay, however, does have a few (albeit small) problems. The biggest complaint to be made about MLB SlugFest 20-03 is the fielding — the game favors the batter over everyone else on the field, making most defensive strategies unlikely to succeed. Runs and home runs are scored fast and repeatedly, which is most of the fun, but can also makes fielding a rather frustrating and impatient experience. There are also a couple of cheap strategies that can be used to make scores soar, which takes away from the fun. These two factors can be agitating, but are somewhat expected in this type of game.

Overall, MLB SlugFest 20-03 excels at providing two people a couple hours of laughs and feel-good homers. Those looking for RBI’s, player lineups, or a high level of customization best look elsewhere. Remember, Midway says right on the box “We call it SlugFest for a reason!”

Graphics

One of the best parts of the game is just watching it. Everything is colorful, well detailed, and pleasing to the eye.

Sound

The announcers are the highlight aurally — the other sound effects and music are good but not spectacular.

Enjoyment

This game is a lot fun, even for those who aren’t big baseball fans. The fielding and general silliness may irritate some players, however.

Replay Value

While not as infinitely replayable as a few other Midway games, MLB SlugFest 20-03 will undoubtedly still be found in dorm rooms, parties, and frat houses a year from now.

Documentation

The manual covers everything you need to know, including how to access cheats using the obligatory Midway code system.

Written by: Brent

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