Publisher: Jamdat Mobile
Developer: Jamdat Mobile
Release Date: March 2005
It's April, and the boys of summer are back at work. As the season for Major League Baseball began last week, no doubt there are many of you looking forward to finally getting back into the park, in front of your TV, or into your favorite sports bar to see if your team can hang on beyond the All-Star break.
To go along with your fantasy baseball fetish this year, you might want to get your hands on Jamdat's new offering for the upcoming season, MLB 2005 for your mobile phone. Freshly out, MLB 2005 plays on many different phones, and the list is growing, so check with your mobile service carrier or the Jamdat site for availability.
MLB 2005 boasts one of the most robust player simulations on mobile platforms today. With full rosters for each team, Jamdat has not only included each of the players, but you can also view their 2004 stats, and adjust the lineup in any way you like. This includes adjusting the batting order, starting pitcher, and even the players positions when taking the field.
MLB 2005 shows off an important step in mobile game development, the behind-the-plate view for pitching and batting. Just like the progression that hit consoles twenty years ago, when you finally stopped looking at the baseball diamond like you were tethered to the Goodyear blimp, the action for baseball on mobile phones is now following suit with a view any catcher will recognize.
This behind-the-plate allows for some real variation in the game, and we'll cover the pitchers first. Jamdat did their homework, and you have the option to command your pitcher to send a fastball, curve, slider, sinker, or changeup, as long as he knows the pitch. That's right, MLB 2005 not only offers many pitching options, but the pitches are only available to match real-life capability, so that means Roger Clemens has four different pitches, while Mariano Rivera has only his curve and fastball pitches. Also, pitcher stamina is modeled from reality. This means that the deliberate pitchers like Al Leiter are going to survive the game much better than most. Pitching is done through a power meter, and keeping it in the green keeps your pitcher healthy and in control. As he tires, you will find that there is less and less reaction time on the meter, until it is nearly impossible to control the pitch. Now is the time to call in the bullpen, and just like your favorite team, you have the full roster at your disposal.
On the offensive side of the behind-the-plate view, Jamdat lets you choose from three batting styles, power, contact, and bunt. Power will better your odds for long balls, and greater odds for fly outs. Contact gets you line drives and grounders, with a higher chance of – you guessed it – contact with the ball. The only bummer in the contact area was that it seemed like a lot of the right hand batters were prone to hitting that perfect double play ball to the second baseman. But then again, it's still neat to see double plays. Speaking of double plays, watch out for your batters who are known for being slow runners. Jamdat seems to have also modeled the players in the game to compensate for their relative speed in real life. This means that Ben Sheets is going to get thrown out at first more than you like, but it frustrates fans at Brewers games all season, so Jamdat gave it to you too.
Running the bases is fairly automated, but you can manually try for extra bases if you feel lucky. When you feel like stretching for the triple, don't forget that an outfielder's arm is really strong, and it's a long way to third, as we were thrown out more often than not.
On defense, when the batter hits it into the field, Jamdat pulls the assist and automatically fields the ball, and then it's up to you to choose the base to throw to. Fielding on a mobile phone would be frustrating, if not impossible, so we're glad Jamdat picked that up. Auto fielding makes it just as easy for you to turn a double play as it is for the computer.
MLB 2005 sports three difficulty levels and three game modes. Start out in rookie for a few innings to get the feel for the game and knock some out of the park. Most users might find that rookie quickly looses its allure, but when you happen to be around younger children (like when you're stuck in the back seat with your sister's kids while going to some family event) the rookie level for a quick play game is quite a pacifier. Quick play is a brief, three-inning game that most of us would be able to finish while riding the train or bus on the morning commute.
In Exhibition mode, you can play a full game, and if someone calls while you are playing, take the call. MLB 2005 picks up right where you left off, and you don't miss a pitch. Series mode lets you take on your arch nemesis in a 3, 5, or 7 game series to determine who really is World Series material. Series also has the continue option, which is obviously a must when your boss steps into your cube while you are in the bottom of the eighth in game seven. Best of all, when you are stuck in the back seat with your sister's kids, they can play the quick play mode and not disturb your saved games in exhibition, series, or both modes.
Stepping up the difficulty to pro and even all-star proved more challenging as expected, and at all-star difficulty, we found that the runs-per-game average came back to reality. Pro difficulty level was the best, as we all like to score, right? Above average runs keeps a mobile game exciting enough to keep the outside world from distracting you every ten seconds; and after all, isn't a handy distraction exactly what a mobile phone game is for?
Overall, Jamdat's MLB 2005 is a solid baseball game, well designed for the mobile phone, and really keeps you involved with the behind-the-plate view. The graphics are matched to your phone's ability, and the sounds included compliment the game very well. This is one of the games where you will actually get your money's worth.