Available for around six dollars, Derek Jeter’s Pro Baseball 2006 attempts to capture the essence of America’s past time on the smallest screen possible, the cell phone.
While Derek Jeter’s Pro Baseball 2006 does a few things right and provides a fairly entertaining diversion while waiting for a bus or stuck in a lobby, it also misses on a few key game play elements that would make it a much more complete game.
I’m not comparing the game with modern Playstation 2, Xbox, or even Game Boy Advance games, but considering this is 2006, it’s completely fair to compare the game to RBI Baseball for the old Nintendo Entertainment System. And compared to that age-old, simplistic 1988 game, Derek Jeter’s Pro Baseball 2006 simply doesn’t measure up.
The most obvious problem with the game is the lack of authentic teams and rosters. Teams are named only after their cities, and even the colors on the uniforms are a bit off so as not to match the real thing. The only real player in the game is Derek Jeter, and other players have odd names that mimic their names in real life, but can sometimes be tough to decipher.
Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers, for example, is named K. Gamble, a reference to his nickname “The Gambler.” David Ortiz is D. Ruiz, and other laughable names include K.Gaffy for Ken Griffery, Jr. and M.Maggi for Magglio Ordonez. RBI Baseball at least had real players, and that was 19 years ago. The gameplay in Derek Jeter’s Pro Baseball 2006 isn’t nearly on the same level as RBI Baseball, which is sad consdering the time difference between the two and the importance of fast, smooth game play.
The game play in Derek Jeter’s Pro Baseball 2006 is pretty straightforward, but ultimately flops because of its lack of fluidity. The players slog around the field in slow motion and are on the small side in comparison to the field, so it takes forever to run from one spot to another. At least in RBI, the players took up more space so they didn’t have to run for days on end to get to a double in the gap or a passed ball in the outfield.
Fielding camera angles are also too sudden and give your fielder little time to get to the ball, and the movements are extremely imprecise and fielders aren’t very agile, so it’s easy to mess up simple plays.
The batting interface is behind the hitter and is fairly high resolution, but the pitch comes in so slowly in real-time that it’s too easy to see what pitch is coming, taking away from the strategy of the game. Hitting is fun at first because it’s so easy to smack home runs, but after a little while, the novelty wears off a little bit because it’s so unrealistic.
You could go ahead and ratchet up the difficulty, but even then the computer just overcompensates for its shortcomings in the intelligence department and gets by on cheap plays in the outfield where players come out of nowhere to make catches they normally wouldn’t come close to making.
Pitching is fairly fun as well but there is one major flaw: pitchers throw their curve balls and other secondary pitches faster than their fastball in many instances. This game doesn’t know whether it wants to be a simulation or a quick pick-up-and-play arcade game and ends up falling somewhere in the middle.
Despite all these flaws, Derek Jeter’s Pro Baseball 2006 is a decent diversion and will keep you occupied in short bursts. There are enough modes like Home Run Derby, Playoffs and Season to keep you busy for longer, but most of the time you’ll be bored before you can finish an entire game, especially a nine-inning one. Luckily, you can quit in the middle of games and resume them later.
In the end, the final call on whether to purchase this game depends on how big a fan of the sport you are in comparison to other cell phone games, because while the game is mildly amusing for baseball fans, there are several better cell phone games out there, especially simpler titles like puzzle games and old-school arcade shooters.
Speaking of old school games, if someone could figure out a way to port RBI Baseball onto my cell phone, I’d gladly them the six bucks I paid for this game to get it. Let me know.