Little League World Series 2022, the video game from developer IguanaBee and publisher GameMill Entertainment, arrives with the opportunity to do more than just represent baseball for young people.
With its arrival comes a chance to fill an underdeveloped arcade baseball niche in the video game landscape.
The first LLWS game in over a decade, this year’s release offers a smooth blend of modern gameplay trappings and customization with massive pickup and play potential.
LLWS 2022 is a blast, whether in Quick Play or in the LLWS tournament support itself.
The name of the game is basic accessibility for all levels of players, so the button prompts are simple and easy to grasp right away. Throwing involves choosing the type of pitch, ball placement, and a timing-based prompt on a slow meter.
Same story in the batter’s box, where aiming where the swing goes over the plate and timing it correctly equals success. It’s certainly not a sim-heavy approach like MLB The Show, nor is it intended to be.
For example, some of the outrageous chances of slowing down the time of making big plays. In the outfield, players will sometimes be able to enter something akin to bullet-time in other games, where hitting the appropriate button prompts at the right time will lead to highlight reel catches that deny a batter a shot. a big blow.
Considering the attributes of the arcade, some compromises were made. Things can get repetitive quickly when anything beyond a single is rare, and fielders always seem to have pinpoint accuracy, which removes some of the spontaneity and randomness that makes real slightly more interesting sports and simulation games.
With the way the camera follows the ball from the start, as a defender it’s not always easy to see where the ball is actually going, and spamming the right button often leads to an immediate throw to a base . But given the lightweight nature of the whole package, it’s hard to worry too much about missteps.
Continuing in line with modern games and inspired by arcade offerings of the past, LLWS 2022 also features super abilities for players to use.
Slow Time, for example, does exactly what it sounds like, and Bat Tank just massively boosts a character’s abilities. Dash, when timed at the right time, provides a boost in key situations. For the sake of simplicity, only one super ability is tied to each team, so it can be a little disappointing to expect a player’s team to have Dash at a convenient time to remember it’s a Bat Tank team. Thus, players fill the super gauge by making plays with any of their characters on a team.
LLWS 2022 was never going to be the most responsive and realistic sim out there, and it’s not trying hard to be. The arcade action is exactly what potential gamers should expect, making it accessible to all ages and fun for adults in a local multiplayer environment, which should be given to the target audience.
Graphics and presentation
Some arcade games get everything except the presentation, which can crush the mood and derail the output.
LLWS 2022 does not have this problem.
The iconic Williamsport Howard J. Lamade Stadium is amusingly depicted here, as are a few other locations. The backgrounds aren’t stunning or realistic, but fit the cartoonish vibe well. Everywhere is colorful and at least interesting, with notable props like giant floating balloons fitting in nicely. There are more locations than expected and each offers a unique feel, and players can choose whether a game takes place during day or night to change up the aesthetic.
Where LLWS really shines is in some of the sheer hilarity that can unfold on the pitch. Player animations vary and are entertaining – a personal favorite is the kung fu-style one where a child balances on one leg atop an upright bat, striking a pose. The faces of the characters also hilariously move when trying to hit the ball, reflecting epic failure or stunning success.
Another fun point is the commentary, which ranges from serious calls to action to amusing notes between innings, such as announcers asking in a very monotonous voice for someone to turn off their car alarm. .
It’s colorful and light all around and not much different from what you’d expect if they were heading to an arcade baseball machine years ago. Modern things like lighting and shadow work look pretty good and there are some interesting camera sweeps that other baseball games might want to check out, but the presentation is exactly what it should be for the atmosphere of the package.
Features and more
As you might expect, LLWS 2022 isn’t too dense of an experience on the feature front.
The game features local multiplayer for up to four players and a handful of game modes. With the focus largely on local multiplayer, the approach makes a lot of sense.
The grove is the biggest exception. It’s a locker room-style section where players can track challenges (and there’s many) that unlock stickers, view player stats, and customize teams and characters. There’s also a place to view trophies, maps, and even a radio to flip through the game’s arcade soundtrack.
The customization is quite extensive. Players can change appearance, gear, positions, and even intro animations and backing songs. Editing teams doesn’t provide a ton of different colors, but one can quickly change the look of a team’s theme.
There is also a tutorial in The Grove. It’s not overly interactive and offers reading while flipping through the pages, but it’s informative enough to answer any peripheral questions new players might have.
When it comes to options, the game doesn’t offer much beyond the most basic. During multiplayer, options follow the expected rhythms to allow players to select rules, stadiums, and teams, including the ability to disable things like super abilities and quick events.
In terms of performance, load times are incredibly fast, although they seem to come at the cost of some serious background pop-ins when loading. It’s a more than acceptable compromise given the charm of the game.
It’s not demeaning to say that LLWS is exactly what potential gamers think it is – a fun arcade game aimed at a younger audience that isn’t trying to compete with the biggest baseball games in the game. market.
And in that vein, it’s a resounding success. It’s hard to criticize, for example, the fact that every hitter seems to drive a hit when it comes to an arcade game with an offensive slant to provide as much entertainment as possible, not strict simulation.
Laced with pick-up-and-play goodies for the curious, LLWS 2022 has a solid and encouraging foundation to grow on if future iterations are released.