Seeing as how Dan is going to write a review of Pro Yakyuu Spirits 4 (Pro Baseball Spirits 4) for Gameshark, I'm not going to try and steal his thunder here. What I am going to do is post my mini-guide for the game as well as my thoughts and impressions for it's various game modes. I'll be doing this, every day, for the next few days as I try to cover all of the modes in the game.
I can't call what I'm doing a review of the game seeing as how I'm just translating the text as I go, so impressions just seem more accurate to me. It is a baseball game and because of that I can fumble my way through the screens and get things done. That works just fine for the in-game engine and mini-games but when I'm working with the more complex modes of the game (MVP, Pennant Mode, and Spirits,) things become more difficult as there is a great deal more text to work with and you have to do a good deal more guessing about what options you are choosing in the menus.
Today, I'll just start with the basics for the game.
Upon purchasing the PS3 version of the game, the first thing that I would recommend doing is to install the game to the Hard Drive. It speeds up game loading time by about 30 to 40 percent on average. You can do this from the utility menu. Thankfully all of the main menu and the utility menu screen options are in English, so that makes the install a bit easier to find and accomplish.
After that, I recommend going straight to the tutorial mode. If you have taken a look at this tutorial, you have seen each of the tasks that you will have to accomplish in each of those modes.
The Tutorial mode will walk you through the basics of pitching, hitting, and fielding.
For hitting, you have four options. X for a strong hit, R1 to toggle power and then X for a power hit, Circle for a contact hit, and R2 to bunt. If you're not in power mode, you see a shadow of your bat in the strike zone with the best contact portion of the bat as a yellow cursor. If you chose a power swing, the yellow cursor size decreases to the size of the baseball and as a result makes it more of a challenge to hit. For a bunt, you see your whole bat as a yellow cursor. Also, you see a red arrow in front of the plate and by pushing the left-stick to the left or right, you aim your bunt.
As for pitching, you choose your pitch by pressing either up, left, down-left, down, down-right, or right. Now, having said that, some pitchers have two pitches for a given direction. To switch between those, press the R1 button. Before you choose your pitch, you have the option to push up on the right thumb stick and increase how hard you are throwing your pitch. It gives your pitch just a bit extra at the cost of a bit more of your stamina. As Dan has mentioned before, you can also press down on the right stick before your pitch is selected to grab the rasin bag. After that, you aim with the left stick and try to time the two converging circles to have your pitch hit the spot you were aiming for.
Fielding is pretty straight forward. In an exhibition game where you're playing as every player, you throw to the bases as follows. 1st base is Circle, 2nd base is Triangle, 3rd base is Square, and X is home. This reverses in the Trial and MVP modes as you "are" that player and so 2nd base becomes X, and home becomes triangle. It does take some adjustment, but you get used to it after a time.
Even if you've played a ton of baseball games, some of these tutorials can still be a challenge and you'll be cursing at the little block-head guy that is guiding you through the various modes. When you do complete them, you earn VP, which are points used in the game to unlock additional settings, stadiums, players, and uniforms. You gain these points in every mode of the game, but completing the tutorial mode gives you a good deal of points to start with.
Once you're done with the tutorial, I think it's best to move on to the Trial mode. The Trial mode is basically an extension of the tutorial, but instead of focusing on basic gameplay elements such as throwing 5 strikes, it puts you into situations that you have to complete. For example, one of the early fielding trials will have you take control of a Shortstop then field a grounder and start a double play. Some of the trials are very easy and some, such as stealing a base, can be quite difficult so I think it's another mode well worth spending some time on. Again, you'll want to look at the tutorial that I mentioned above as the trial conditions are written in Japanese and are difficult to decipher. Also included in the Trial mode is the "100 knock challenge." It can be accessed after completing all of the Fielding and Running trials, and it is covered in more depth in the tutorial linked above.
Tomorrow I'll delve into the Exhibition, Homerun Challenge, and Strike Pitch game modes and talk about what it's like to actually play the game.