Neo Geo Station - Baseball Stars Professional

Baseball Stars Professional’s arcade style gameplay puts a premium on fast-paced baseball action.

By Daavpuke, Posted 07 Feb 2011

Baseball Stars Professional, a challenging arcade style baseball game originally released for SNK’s Neo Geo in 1990, doesn’t include the same groundbreaking customization that its predecessor Baseball Stars is known for. Nonetheless, Professional features well-done game mechanics, and spectacular presentation that make it an enjoyable title for both casual and seasoned baseball fans.

Neo Geo Station - Baseball Stars Professional Review

Professional includes all the rules that exist within Major League Baseball while implementing a deceptively deep arcade style of play. Games only last 20-25 minutes, and are never dull as Professional invests itself in being an action-packed game. Homeruns will occur at least a few times an outing, strikeouts are occasional, and there are very few foul balls. The games are simply controlled through the combination of the directional pad/analog stick with the square button on the dualshock controller. Despite the controls being easy to pickup, they still add substantial depth to the on-field action. Each player has their own stance on the mound and in the batters’ box, but their standing position while playing can be altered. These adjustments are a pivotal part in the outcome of the game as the location of a pitch and how a batter makes contact with the ball depends on each player’s position within their respective area. Furthermore, although all pitchers utilize the same four pitches that incorporate different speeds and movements their individual stances and statistics give each of them a unique feel. The same is true with batters as each player swings differently which depends not only on their stance, but also on what type they are. Power hitters tend to have a long follow through while contact hitters swing very quickly. Only a few players, particularly those on “The American Dreams,” seem overpowered, and thus players, regardless of the team they choose, still have a fair chance to win allowing individuals to pick a team directly related to their style of play.

However, the game isn’t perfect as defence is unnecessarily hard to get a good handle on. The camera is often too zoomed in to a point where it does not allow you to gauge where your fielder is relative to the ball sometimes causing you to run away from it. This issue is somewhat remedied by giving players control of all outfielders at once meaning that if you are running away from the ball with one player you’re likely running towards it with another. This camera issue is prevalent when players face the near impossible task of fielding line drives. Essentially the ball either hits you or it doesn’t as any movement the gamer makes is pure guess work on their part. The same is true with throwing the ball to the infield bases as the otherwise intelligent AI occasionally moves off an off-screen base for some inexplicable reason and thus is not there is catch a thrown ball consequently causing a fielding error. These issues, though noticeable within the game, are mostly forgotten due to the overarching atmosphere that Professional employs.

Neo Geo Station - Baseball Stars Professional Review

The sprites look great, the field is well maintained and both the crowd and umpires are incredibly expressive. The mechanics of fielders being able to climb, dive, and jump look are exciting, as is any double play including a turn from the 2nd to 1st baseman. Replays can be saved and viewed, but nothing matches the excitement of actually living the plays on the field. Furthermore, although an annoying background protrudes around the edges of Professional, it is easy to ignore once players focus in on the great on field and mostly correct scoreboard animations in the game.

The music is excitingly upbeat, and although it can be listened to in the “Music Player” is best juxtaposed with Professional’s arcade baseball action. The commentary is incredibly impressive as Professional is one of the few sports titles in which the commentators always have something relevant to say about the game. Albeit these lines are more quips than actual commentary, they still stand as an enjoyable background fixture amidst the baseball action.

However Professional’s excellence is that it, in focusing on an all-around engaging experience, perfects the little things. There are no players or teams from professional baseball, but rather Professional includes sixteen created teams that feature well thought out pitchers and batters including the likes of Lancelot and Arthur on “The Battle Knights.” Furthermore the reactions to strikeouts, and homeruns incite even more enjoyment within the game as everyone loves to see the jaw of the pitcher hit the floor when you launch one out of the park, and nothing is as gratifying as confusing a batter to the point of frustration where they break their bat in half after being struck out.

The only real issue with the presentation is the collision detection. For some inexplicable reason fielders can run through each other, umpires, and occasionally right through the outfield wall without showing any sign that it is a solid object. This is really not a big or frequent issue, but makes you scratch your head the few times that you’re trying to field the ball and your player fails to recognize that you’ve already run over it twice.

The game’s biggest weakness is its gameplay options as its only offline components are eerily similar versus and tournament modes. The former allows up to two players to play in a single game against each other while the latter has room for up to 16 players. In both modes games play out exactly the same, and even winning a tournament doesn’t feel like you’ve really accomplished anything beyond the enjoyment that you get winning the individual games.

Neo Geo Station - Baseball Stars Professional Review

A further lack of depth exists within the game as SNK Stadium and SNK Dome, two fields with the same exact field dimensions, are the only two baseball parks included in the game. They only differ in terms of whether or not there is a roof over the field, and their seating capacity. This is a missed opportunity by SNK as the roof adds nothing to game as it does not affect the lighting on the field, and there are no weather conditions to be cognisant of. The seating capacity is even more of a moot point as there are no simulation elements in the game.

Nonetheless Professional is very enjoyable to play in short spurts, especially with friends, and even includes a well designed Network Mode that supports up to two players. The online is smooth, and is incredibly fun to play, but unfortunately the community is dead. Finding a game is a near-impossible task, and thus getting a friend to play with is a must for anyone wishing to take Professionals online.

The Official Baseball Stars Professional Trailer.

In short, Professional’s arcade style is easily accessible and is spectacularly presented with the only real issues being the infrequent collision detection, the two stadiums being exactly the same, and the mostly forgettable fielding difficultly. Still, this is not a simulation game, nor one to be played for hours and hours without rest, but rather is one that puts a premium on fast-paced baseball action.

Joshua McCaul, NoobFeed.

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  • I'm not familiar with this sports but got some general idea though the review. An excellent one I must add. The problem with camera is a very common problem in sports games. Unlike shooting and racing, sports game offer direction to every single level, which makes the developers life harder. Perhaps in future they will add more gameplay features to the game to take it to another level. Judging by your review I wasn't expecting any rating over 70 to be honest.

    Posted Feb 08, 2011

  • @Sleven Thanks for both reading and commenting on my review. I really appreciate it. As for the rating being over 70 -- well there were some small issues that are incredibly frustrating, but rarely happen (maybe half a dozen times in the twelve hours I played) so they really don't factor all the much into the game. Beyond that, the camera issue is annoying, but when it came down to it the game was still incredibly enjoyable to play, and I tried to reflect that reality both in the score and in the review. Thanks again for the comment! :)

    Posted Feb 08, 2011

  • That makes sense too. Sometime even when a game has many problems it's still a lot of fun to play.

    Looking forward to see more reviews from your side :)

    Posted Feb 09, 2011
  • avatar RON

    Perhaps the amount of fun the game offers overwhelm all the criticisms you did. A very fine work with the review.

    Posted Feb 09, 2011


General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): SCEA
Developer(s): SNK Playmore
Genres: Sports
Themes: Baseball, Arcade
Release Date: 2010-12-21

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