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There's plenty of room for improvement if Sega wants to update the series for 2003...but this game is excellent as is. First-time sports series are always tough to get right in their debut, but even with a few quirks and omissions in Sega's design, Baseball Advance is one of, if not the best handheld baseball games yet developed.
Baseball Advance is a fond reminder of the days when baseball was considered an arcade game. Though it lacks some of the requisite derby modes, it features the full roster of Major League players and teams, as well as four of the famed Major League parks, although I'm still rather irritated SkyDome was not included, but that's my pet peeve with the game. The piece de resistance is undeniably the batting and pitching. The other parts of the game merely dress it up to become a full baseball title. It certainly has its Achilles heels, with respect to automatic fielding or base running, as well as the fact that in all arcade baseball games there is a propensity for ridiculously high scores. If you can accept that aspect of Baseball Advance, then you'll be surprisingly charmed. As for me, I'm glad someone has put the fun back into baseball.
It takes some getting used to, and can be maddening until you figure it out. But once you get it, it's not so bad. Actually, this is the most fun I've had with a baseball game on a portable. The pitching and fielding controls are perfect - playing defense is even more fun than batting! I love how you can dive for grounders and turn double plays. The players are supposed to look like they're breathing heavy, but it looks like they're all shrugging their shoulders - pretty funny. All the MLB teams are included, but only four stadiums: Safeco, Wrigley, Fenway, and Pacific Bell Park. It may come up a little short on features, but for pure fun, Baseball Advance is hard to beat.
In its first season run, Game Boy Advance wasn’t able to achieve a high batting average among Baseball games with sub par performances and utter flops. Even with incredible names from console conversions on the portable, the energy from other systems didn’t transfer the way we all hoped. It has seemed as if all optimism was lost. Fear not, for a game unbeknownst to all has graced the portable and come to the rescue just in time. To be fair, Sega has had previous experiences with the sport in its acclaimed World Baseball Series and upcoming Home Run King hitter, and Baseball Advance is able to live up to the greatest names that Sega have presented to us in years past, this time in the realm of Game Boy.
The in-game sounds are adequate. The umpire is present, although announcers are not. I don't want to name names here, but some, ahem, acclaimed console titles didn't include umpire sounds. Overall, Baseball Advance is a fine product. It would be nice to be able to quit a game, say when the CPU takes a 5-0 lead… some of us are too childish to play and pray for a huge comeback!
Baseball Advance tries to be that buddy that lights up your Game Boy Advance like a nighttime game at Wrigley field, and it certainly comes close. The first thing that pops out at you are the larger-than-life visuals. A big, well-animated batter crowds the screen, but without obscuring any important screen real estate. The fielders also move fluidly and control with the type of zippy precision needed to turn tight double plays or run down a two-out bunt. Unfortunately, the graphics eat up a lot of the space on this cartridge, leaving little room for sounds effects, and only four major league ball parks made the cut.
Baseball Advance may come up short in many areas--outdated rosters, absent players, missing stadiums, minimal modes, poor statistics tracking, and the obvious lack of a two-player link option are just a few of the many complaints that dog the game's reputation--but its clever design and gorgeous visuals more than compensate for any deficiency.
Baseball Advance may have a few minor flaws, but it is a fun day at the ballpark. The play is solid, the graphics are good to excellent and program is delivered with an obvious appreciation for the sport.