Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big Joes Homerun Challenge

That's not a typo in the title - there is no apostrophe in Big Joes Homerun Challenge. Big Joe, who hates grammar with the intensity of a thousand suns, has more important things on his mind, like hitting home runs! And while it's safe to assume the "challenge" in the game's title relates to scoring these home runs, one could argue a bigger challenge lies in actually enjoying yourself.

There are no instructions whatsoever in the game, but I'll gladly fill you in. You control Big Joe with the mouse and are able to move him around the home plate, swinging with a click of the left mouse button. Simple really, but in that case why is it so damn hard to hit the ball? Unless you have the reactions of a race car driver, you'll spend the early part of the game swinging wildly at air. It doesn't help that there's no way to gauge the distance of the ball, so you can never tell if you'll swing too early or too late.

Even if you do get a few hits, chances are you'll just score a few foul balls. If you actually manage to keep it within bounds, you'll be lucky to hit it past second base. It's all about timing, of course, but no matter how often I nailed that ball I just couldn't score a home run.

Big Joe is clearly displeased. You'd think with arms his size it wouldn't be so God damn hard to hit a few home runs! I've seen kids score more impressive hits! It's kind of pathetic, Joe.

So I played again a few times, primarily to get screen shots for this review, when suddenly it happened - I got good.

Every ball I hit sailed out of the park. I was scoring home runs like it was no big deal. I have no idea how or why, but for a few short minutes I was the Home Run King!

OK, more like Home Run Duke. But hell, that's five more homers than I thought I'd hit. One good game does not change my opinion of Big Joes Homerun Challenge, however. The characters are flat, even for 2D, and the animation is far too jerky. Compare this to State of Play's baseball game and - well, there is no comparison. As an online example of America's national pastime, Big Joes Homerun Challenge makes a poor impression.

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