A novel free-to-play purchasing mechanic mixed with a dash of humor and a collection of baseball mini-games.
Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball
Nintendo 3DS – Eshop – 03-April-2014 Price: Free (DLC)(4 / 5)
I haven’t always been a huge fan of America’s favorite pastime (and Bob Costas’ eternal youth fuel), baseball, but in the last few years I have been getting a lot more interested in the game. So when I heard that Nintendo was developing a baseball mini-game collection, my interest was piqued. But this game is a bit more than a mini-game collection, it is kind of an entirely new spin on the whole free-to-play concept. This, my friends, is quite the interesting game indeed.
Rather than use the tried and true free to play methods of slowly unlocking premium currency through grinding or giving up and pulling out the old credit card, you haggle with Rusty for prices to purchase all of the mini-games. Yes, you read that correctly, you are going to play a haggling mini-game to spend real money on virtual games. Mind=Blown.
Let me explain how this purchasing system works. Without getting too deep in the the surprisingly engaging story — more on that later — here is how things go down. Rusty is down on his luck. Nontendo (yeah) is a gaming company that made all of these baseball themed games. Rusty, a former slugger and current sports store owner, is looking to unload all of these unsold copies of Nontendo games, and he is willing to give you a good deal.
Games start at $4.00 and you haggle down from there. There are many ways to haggle with Rusty to lower the price. He will give you a demo of a game to start and you can play the early parts to unlock stamps. Earn enough stamps and you can get coupons for a percentage off of game purchases and other random items. To start haggling you give Rusty a doughnut, earned through stamps, to get him in the mood for dealin’. You can then either use coupons or items gained from stamps you earned in the mini-games.
To advance the storyline you need to purchase games from Rusty. Now, instead of coupons, you can receive items; one example is a cooking class coupon. Rusty’s wife has left him and he is stuck caring for his 10 puppies. He drops a hint that he has no idea how to cook. If you give him a cooking class coupon, you might be able to get him to knock that price down some more.
The mini-games vary from simple speed batting scenarios to calling games as an umpire. There is plenty of variety here, and the game exudes a very Japanese Nintendo style. As an example, when you get pitches from batting machines they aren’t batting robots, but little Mii-people with baseball pitching machines for heads. It is those little touches that make the game feel very polished. I found myself repeatedly restarting these mini-games to get the maximum scores.
This game is perfect if you just have a little time to kill and want to unlock more badges and points. I won’t get too deep into the mechanics of the mini-games, but they are very solid. My favorite was definitely the “Make the Call” umpiring mini-game. You see batters come up and you have to call pitches as balls or strikes. This is vastly different than most of the twitch motion, button pressing actions from the other games and, for me, had the most depth and challenge. I do think that the mini-games could have had a little bit more depth and variance around them. All of the mini-games base themselves mainly on the fundamentals of the game, like hitting and fielding, and not as much on the strategy of playing an actual game of baseball. That would have made this game just about perfect.
My favorite part of the game was the haggling mini-game and the storyline behind it. Rusty’s wife has disappeared and he doesn’t know what to do! He opened this shop because as an ex-ballplayer he didn’t know much else. He then took some advice to pick up these newfangled video games from “Nontendo” and he is having trouble moving them off of the shelves. They are good games, but nobody is in the market for them.
Throughout the game you help Rusty learn how to take care of himself, enter the dating game, and boost the confidence of the now aged Pro. The writing is excellent and really tongue in cheek in many places. There is a ton of really human dialogue that is very touching. I was not expecting this sort of story from a mini-game collection There is a certain special something about games that are good. Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball swings for the fences and hits an extra base hit with a few RBIs. I think that this is a really novel new way to create revenue for small games like this. Get working on a WarioWare free to play game using this style of haggling … and you can have my money.