MLB SlugFest 20-04 Review

In the crowded video baseball game market, everyone strives to provide the most realistic baseball experience.  Well, almost everyone.  MLB Slugfest 20-04 instead goes for an over-the-top, arcade experience that yields plenty of hits and lots of high-scoring games.  It's a throwback to the old days of baseball video games, and a fun alternative to the more sim-focused games.

Everybody slides spikes up in Slugfest.

Slugfest dispenses with many of the factors usually modeled in baseball games, reducing them to just three: batting, power, and speed.  Since all pitches are hittable in the game, batting is a measure of a player's likelihood to hit the gaps rather than his ability to make contact with the ball.  Power in turn determines how likely a player is to hit the ball out of the park and speed controls how quickly a player can run the base paths or track down a ball in the field.

All pitchers have a set of five pitches to call upon, and each of these pitches is given a power bar.  A pitcher's best pitches come with filled power bars while the others will not be filled all the way.  As you throw a particular pitch you'll drain its corresponding power bar and your pitcher will be less effective with that pitch.  No need to analyze ERA stats and the game situation, or even to manage a bullpen.  When you burn through your pitcher's best pitches just yank him and immediately bring in a new one.  The sub can even be another starter if you want.

Player stats are not static throughout the game and can be affected by three different things.  The first is through your turbo meter.  Each team has a turbo meter that can be used when batting, pitching, or making plays.  Using turbo will boost the current player's stats, making it more likely for him to hit a gap, knock a homer, or throw a faster pitch.  You'll drain your turbo should you swing and miss the ball or if you pitch a ball out of the strike zone when using turbo.  Turbo is regained by throwing strikes or reaching base safely.

The second way a player can get a stats increase is if he catches fire.  When a player reaches base safely in two consecutive at bats, he will catch fire and in addition to the boost to his stats he will have use of unlimited turbo.  Up to two batters on your team can catch fire at a time.

On defense you can reduce a player's stats on the opposing team by throwing a bean ball.  The player will get a free ride to first base, but at the cost to a drop in one one or more stats.  However, this can backfire as sometimes the batter will charge the mound.  After the ensuing fight the batter will have his stats boosted instead of reduced.  Mound charging is random and as a hitter you have no control of whether or not your player will charge the mound, and no control over the ensuing fight either.