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Diabolical Pitch Review: Baseballs in Hell

/ Jun 28th, 2012 2 Comments

Diabolical Pitch for Kinect

Diabolical Pitch: the Kinect Arcade game where you hurl baseballs at demonic carnival animals until they explode with coins. If this sounds like something you’d love to do repeatedly for hours, you’ll like Diabolical Pitch. If this sounds boring and too much like a workout, this is not the game for you. Developers over at Grasshopper Manufacture released this baseball themed arcade game back in April, and depending on what kind of gamer you are, Diabolical Pitch could either be a home run or a total strikeout.

Diabolical Pitch for Kinect

Gamers who like pretending they’re Roger Clemens or casual gamers looking for a quick Kinect game will most likely enjoy Diabolical Pitch. RPG lovers and gamers who covet deep, intellectually stimulating games will not. Diabolical Pitch doesn’t offer a whole lot of diverse gameplay and therefore doesn’t attract a huge following. However, that doesn’t suggest it isn’t worth trying out.

Story

Diabolical Pitch begins by unfolding the dark existence of the once allstar baseball pitcher, McAllister. It appears McAllister has somehow irreparably damaged his pitching shoulder, rendering him useless and broken in the baseball world. Saddened and without hope, McAllister “accidentally” drives his sporty, Mazda reminiscent convertible straight into an oncoming semi-truck. The game insinuates immediate death as McAllister is cast into a hellish theme park. It’s in this theme park that McAllister is acquainted with a weird, seemingly devious bull dressed in a business suit. Business Bull provides McAllister with a new wooden arm that gives him another chance to reign as a baseball legend. It is then up to the gamer to advance McAllister through multiple sections of the theme park, tagging out devilish bunnies, monkeys, lions, and other evil Business Bull minions. Diabolical Pitch is a bizarre story with a humorous twist and certainly deserves recognition for originality.

Gameplay

Beginning with the gameplay negatives, Diabolical Pitch, or DP from now on, has some significant tracking problems. Like most Kinect games, there exists the occasional lag with limb recognition. However, inadequate tracking in DP was so frequent it often made the game anything but fun, resulting in me shouting expletives while my mom glared at me from the couch. This infuriating tracking problem was most noticeable when the player was required to use both hands. For example, gameplay requires the player to choose a dominant hand for pitching. The other hand will act as a glove/miscellaneous action hand. This is useful when Beelzebub bunnies throw killer baseballs because the player can catch the object with both hands. However, this is DEFINITELY NOT useful when a panda is launching fixed target missiles at McAllister.

Targeting missiles before they blast you into baseball bits.

When being bombarded by oncoming missiles, McAllister must use his non-pitching hand to lock onto the rocket and his other hand to toss a baseball. If successful, this causes a midair missile-ball collision, stopping the rocket from reaching McAllister and blowing him into deeper depths of Hell. However, Kinect really struggled to make this combo work. When my left hand finally synched up with the Kinect, I would often average 3 or 4 throws before the game finally registered I was trying to save my life. By that time I had already been blown up or pummeled by an angry elephant with a sledgehammer. On top of that giant inconvenience, tracking was often inconsistent, throwing my ball to the less threatening enemy or slinging it to the opposite side of the screen. Aside from these issues, special “diabolical pitches” meant to assist you in warding off enemies were often hard to activate; for example, the cannonball pitch. To make matters worse, I looked very stupid in real life standing in front of my television, waving my arm like a Dutch windmill, and awkwardly trying to match the cannonball activation stance (which by the way, is strangely similar to a gorilla-chest-pound.) As far as multiplayer is concerned, my mom and I found it entertaining only for a little while. This was due to the lack of distinction from the single player mode. Apparently there is a co-op diabolical pitch, but she and I wouldn’t know because we spent too much time trying to get her meteor ball to register correctly.

My mom grand slamming devil tigers outta' the hellpark - on multiplayer!

There were some neat maneuvers in DP. I personally enjoyed activating the totally-unrelated-to-baseball self defense kick. When nightmare tigers crept too close to McAllister, I would thrust my leg into the air and power-kick those suckers into oblivion. (Yes, it was as gratifying as it sounds.) The player can also unlock baseball cards to enhance McAllister’s performance. Some perks included less chance for arm fatigue, increasing the point amount on tokens, and new diabolical pitches. But even with these positive points most gamers are going to be bored by the repetitiveness of DP. Unlocking baseball cards and changes in theme park scenery won’t be enough to keep most gamers engaged. DP is best reserved for casual gamers and people who need to ventilate a lot of stress. Ultimately, it isn’t that DP isn’t fun, it’s just that it doesn’t always do what you tell it to and you build some serious muscle inequality between your left and right arm.

Graphics

The graphics for DP seemed appropriate for an arcade game. Event scenes between Business Bull and McAllister had a paper mache, comic book feel but matched the overall environment of quirky carnival Tartarus. Gameplay graphics were a little unrealistic and cartoonish but this game didn’t promise stellar, clean Mass Effect-like designs. The game is about a desperate baseball pitcher who is promenading through hell chucking baseballs at condemned carnival puppies. The graphics suited the story just fine.

Sound

Another area DP could have improved upon was its generic sound effects. Although fitting for the arcade genre, the typical male announcer voice, ka-chinging of slot machines, and cheesy music all contributed to DP’s lack of impressiveness. It’s worth noting that the voice actors of Business Bull and McAllister performed fairly well and fit the characters nicely.

Overall

Unfortunately,  it seems DP had possibilities but fell short in fulfilling its potential. The most serious obstacle for the game’s success was the annoying tracking problem. Another aspect that may have tarnished DP’s shine is that the game caters to a pretty narrow audience. Casual gamers are likely to be the ones who buy this game, assuming they’re interested in playing arcade games at all. People who daily browse the game market are uninterested in games like DP because of its predictability and lack of diverse gameplay. Although it won’t be winning a Game of the Year award, Diabolical Pitch did deliver exactly what it was supposed to: an arcade style mini-game that’s great for quick, fun time.

Overall Ratings – Diabolical Pitch (Xbox 360 Kinect)

Story:

7/10

Gameplay:

5/10

Graphics:

7/10

Sound:

6/10

OVERALL SCORE:

63%


Rachel Gray

Rachel Gray

Content Specialist at Gaming Illustrated
Rachel is a game aficionada who lives with her tuxedo cat, Ernest. Some of her favorite things include bears, Chik-fil-a chick-n-minis, White Russians, and Silent Hill 2. When jogging, Rachel attaches her mp3 arm attachment to her wrist and pretends it is a Pip-Boy.
Rachel Gray
Rachel Gray

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  • Logan Dowdy

    I enjoyed reading this article. Not so much interested in the game, considering that i don’t own a Kinect. However the game as described in the article does seem like a one in which deserves to be played at least once. I especially like the ending of the initial paragraph, “Diabolical Pitch could either be a home run or a total strikeout”. This lets me know that it could be a game for me or not, I will just have to see for my self.

    The Story portion of the review tells me about the death of a All Star Baseball player that has suffered a shoulder injury. The result of his death send him to a freaky realm of carnival games, a hell if i have ever heard of on.
    Getting to the topic of the Game play. I can’t really have an opinion for the tracking problems with the game (stated in the article) again do to the fact I don’t own a kinect and haven’t experienced this problem, But if it’s worth any thing the game play section is nothing but descriptive. I didn’t need to read that whole section to know she did research.

    As for the graphic’s i have to agree with the picture as an example.

    Sound on the other hand i cant say much about do to the fact i have no idea what the game sounds like. All i have to go on is “typical male announcer voice, ka-chinging of slot machines, and cheesy music”. I have an imagination, and being around as long as I have, I do have a pretty good idea of how these noices would be used in a arcade game.

    Overall I feel the same, with the story given I think they could have made the game a little better as in graphic’s and not using old sound effects anyone can get their hands on. Not playing the game i would give the game a 60%-70% also, not my style of a game but it does seem like a time killer.

    If i get this game i will die once to see if a voice says, YOU’RE OUT!

  • Laura

    Thanks for the great review. game sounds pretty fun (im definitely a casual game player) but its good to know about the recognition problems, so ill know not to play when im cranky.

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