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ups: Great control; great gameplay; lots of modes and options; collecting and trading cards.
downs: Crummy music; sometimes tough to see the ball.

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All-Star Baseball 2003 Review (GBA)
game: All-Star Baseball 2003
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Acclaim
date posted: 09:10 AM Fri Jul 26th, 2002
last revision: 05:42 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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By Jake Carder

Long trips cramped in the family truck with parents who sing poorly and, in the case of my childhood, a sibling\'s reeking feet, can be torture. With escape nearly impossible, the only solace is found in a little handheld device that emits rays of euphoric joy. The only thing missing from this scenario is a much needed sports game worthy of being played, and for the longest time there hasn\'t been one, until now. With the release of All-Star Baseball 2003, baseball becomes the first sport title released for the GBA that\'s actually good, containing just enough depth to keep the attention of the die-hard fans and a simple interface for the occasional ball player.

If you\'ve ever played any of the console versions of All-Star Baseball you will find the game modes familiar. Exhibition and Quick games are for those casual gamers who are content with playing a game every now and then. The die-hard fans will be able to sink their teeth into the Season mode where they can play a full 162 game season with the ability to track their stats as the game progresses. As an added bonus, winning games can unlock a total of 64 trading cards to view and exchange with a friend through a link cable. Acclaim made a change for the better by foregoing the dreaded password and instead utilizing a battery-save function in the game. If you\'re just interested in hitting the ball there is the Home Run Derby and Batting Practice, which, in order to get the timing down, is the most crucial mode on the entire cartridge for those who\'ve just picked up the game. The combination of all these modes adds a lot of replay ability to keep any baseball fan interested. In the day and age of computer scanned ball players and models composed of thousands of polygons, it\'s nice to know that sprites can still do the trick. Every player may look the same when they\'re out in the field or up to bat, but it just goes to show that sometimes all it takes is pure and simple gameplay to make a game enjoyable--not just candy to stimulate the eyes. One small issue, no pun intended, is the size of the baseball as it\'s thrown at you. If the lighting isn\'t just right the ball gets \"lost\" because it\'s so tiny. Fortunately, the problem is made manageable by a helpful cursor that tracks the ball.

It\'s obvious that not a lot of effort has been placed in the sound department. There are no commentators; which I don\'t mind in the least, and the only music you hear are two classic baseball tunes including, of course, the well known \"Take Me Out to the Ball Game\". That in turn sounds like someone went treasure hunting and discovered an old beat up organ in the remains of some long forgotten park to record the music with. While it can be disconcerting at times, what helps prevent this from being a total distraction is the fact that you don\'t even need the sound on in order to play the game; there are no special hints that you have to listen for. Just turn the sound off and play ball.

Simplifying the controls to work on the GBA couldn\'t have been a real chore as they don\'t really need to be overly complicated. With the exception of some quirks to get used to, the controls are pulled off rather nicely while still allowing some strategy, as in the placement of how the field is played. As mentioned there are some areas in which things don\'t run very smoothly; the area most affected is in the running of the bases. Turning a single into a double takes getting used to and when managing multiple runners it can all fall apart very quickly.

If you enjoy America\'s favorite pastime and you\'re stuck in the aforementioned car on a long road trip this summer or if you just want a good game to play that\'s portable you won\'t be wasting your time or money by picking up All Star Baseball 2003 for GBA and smacking the old long ball. With plenty of depth and some extras to work towards, it should keep you occupied during the dog days of summer.