When I booted up MLB Bobblehead Battle for the first time, I was optimistic. I was hoping the game would be similar to what we've seen in Wii sports, albeit with more depth, better graphics and an MLB license. Unfortunately I was clearly mistaken. Had I picked up MLB Bobblehead Pros, Konami's last baseball release, I would have been in business. Bobblehead Battle on the other hand is a retooled version of Pros that takes away any of the real fun and replaces it with a poor take on batting practice.
Bobblehead Battle allows you to play as two positions, batter or pitcher, depending on whether you're at the plate or in the field. This essentially means that when you play as the field team all you are required to do is select a pitch and throw it in the strike zone. Alternatively when you play as the batting team all you have to do is follow the pitch and hit A. There is no fielding, no throws to first pace to get the out, essentially, there is no real depth to the game.
What makes Bobblehead Battle even more peculiar is that the field is covered in random patches labelled as plays such as single, double, sac fly or out. What this translates into for you is that if you hit a solid pitch and think you're going to get a single, odds are you're going to land in a patch of field labelled 'out'. To further complicate the matter is the fact there are randomly placed ramps covering the field that would appear to shoot the balls higher, to gain a better position on base. In reality though if you hit these ramps, because of a lack of realistic physics, the ball is essentially pushed a few feet further and falls off (likely into a patch labelled 'out'). And then there's the walls. The middle of the outfield is covered in walls that you won't be able to hit over, and once you slam your ball into them, it will lose all speed and drop onto the ground, which is also likely covered in an 'out' patch. If you're beginning to sense a pattern, you're right. A large part of Bobblehead Battle is hoping you hit the ball into a safe patch and that the ball stops rolling before it hits an 'out' patch.
Some may argue that this system of randomly placed patches may require the user to learn to carefully and with skill hit the ball to the appropriate part of the field. Without a real physics engine and batting system that requires more than just a button click, this isn't possible. The resulting game is overly simplistic and surprisingly frustrating.
The AI as well can add to your frustration. In a game this simplistic you wouldn't think that AI would play a huge role. But when the opponent team switches the pitcher four times in the span of three pitches, making you watch the same animation each time, it becomes tiresome and disengaging. Add to this the fact that the AI will often use playing cards to alter small parts of the game, and you're frequently taken out of the action.
These playing cards that the AI uses are also accessible to you. They are an attempt to spice the gameplay up and give you either a defensive or offensive boost for a preset number of swings or pitches. These can range from throwing faster pitches to altering the outfield so that there are fewer 'out' patches. A valiant attempt at changing the game up, but the affects of these cards are often too subtle to make a huge difference.
Bobblehead Battle may have been a fun Multiplayer experience against a human opponent, but in all the attempts made to find an challenger on Xbox Live, absolutely no one was found. Suffice to say, if you want to play against another person, you best invite a friend over.
Bobblehead Battle does allow you to play as any of the 30 MLB teams and features the names and likeness of the each team's respect players, but this is done with a model akin to well, a Bobblehead. Further to these player models, the graphics are sub-par and leave much to be desired. The presentation itself is what you expect from an arcade game but the lack of commentary seems to reinforce the fact that this game is rather shallow.
All in all, MLB Bobblehead Battle is a disappointment. The lack of physics and shallow gameplay make for a repetitive experience that offers little to keep you coming back. The gameplay isn't aided by the poor, cartoonish graphics and lack basic features like commentary. At the price of 800 MS points ($9.99) purchasing this game over a similarly priced and fun experience such as Burnout Crash! just doesn't make sense. Even for those obsessed with anything baseball, this game is a hard sell.