Nicktoons MLB 3D Video Game Review
- First baseball game designed exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS
- New playable characters, Jimmy Neutron and Hiro Mightypaw
- Offers new gameplay modes, Showdown and Frosty Freeze Toss and Rock ‘N Roll
Yup. Those are the buttons on the system, all right.
When playing the minigames you can pick your character. The box boasts of 175 real MLB players in the lineup, but it’s hard to care about those guys when you can also play as Aang, Katara, Ren, Stimpy, Invader Zim, Gaz, Patrick or the Frying Dutchman. Any of those choices would be satisfying, but they also give you… drumroll… Powdered Toast Man. Like I can play as anyone else NOW.
Actually, half the time I played as Toph, purely for the irony of it being impossible for her to play this game.
Distance Derby should get you the most acquainted with the batting mechanic: you’re given ten chances to hit as many home runs as possible. The max score you can get, by the way, is 10. Once you’ve gotten batting down, practice aiming your hits with Rock ‘n Roll, the game where you must hit the ball left, right, or center to break as many giant boulders as possible. Your game is over once you miss too many. The third minigame is an Alternate Reality game involving shooting balls into Frosty Freeze cups, but for the life of me I could not get the 3DS to recognize the provided card image in the manual.
The meat of the game — the baseball — can be played five ways. The first way is to hit “Quick Play” on the first menu screen, which will randomly pick a team and stadium for you and begin one game. Choosing “Single Game” on the second menu screen will give you the same thing, only you pick the teams. You can also play an entire season, a bracket tournament (albeit a short one), or Showdown Mode, which is the same thing as “Single Game” only the Nicktoons and MLB players are strictly on separate teams.
When you’re pitching, you can pick from four different styles like the fastball and curveball, and throw each pitch by holding down, then releasing one of the four right buttons. As you hold your button of choice down, you charge a little meter, and if you let go within the sweet spot, you’re guaranteed to strike out the batter. The problem is, the meter is a touch too slow and the opportunity to hit that sweet spot is wide open. Within three tries, you’ll never miss again and victory is guaranteed.
When you’re batting, there are also three ways to swing… but as with pitching, it doesn’t matter much. As long as you press a button at the same moment (which, I figured out quickly, is when the pitcher starts to throw), you’ll always crack the baseball dead-on, except for those rare times when a random foul ball comes up through chance. From then on, the only reason to keep playing is to hear the random comments from GIR between innings: “I wanna fill my head with mashed potatoes!” But that can only take you so far.
If you’re playing well, you can earn “Turbo” bonuses that will allow you to throw faster, bat higher or run farther by hitting the right shoulder button. If this game had any deeper challenge, those bonuses might have been fun to earn, but I never needed to use them.
There’s also a Nicktoons MLB for the original DS, but if kids want to pay extra just to have Fanboy and Chum-Chum jump out at them, they may be let down on that end. The title screen is a 2D image that pops inward. The menus are entirely in 2D. The 3D effects feels like an afterthought and is barely noticeable in most areas of the game, even with the slider cranked all the way. And in some areas, the backgrounds of the arenas are rendered incorrectly and have some spots popping out and zooming back where they shouldn’t be…. not that it’s a HUGE deal since the effect is so flat overall.
There’s not a wide variety of sounds and music. There is only one major tune, and though it isn’t bad, it’s repeated on every menu screen (and it doesn’t loop, it just fades away and restarts. It’s also 30 seconds long). They went slim on the voice samples as well, so expect to hear “Looks like THIS pitcher’s got the RIGHT STUFF!” every other time you throw the ball.
With all that said, would it still satisfy any tyke into Nickelodeon, baseball, or both? It’s difficult to recommend the game on the basis of the presence of the Nicktoons as your kids will have seen everything the characters can do within ten minutes. However, there aren’t many sports titles available on the 3DS and this is the first baseball title designed exclusively for the 3DS. So, if your kid likes baseball, this is your go to.