Play TV Baseball 3 and Real Swing Golf Review (Other)
Submitted on: Mar 27, 2006 by Shawn Drotar
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The following games from Radica won't play on your new Xbox 360, or original Xbox, or PS2, or what have you - they plug right in to your TV directly.
Play TV Baseball 3 ($44.99 MSRP)and Real Swing Golf ($49.99 MSRP) provide interactive gameplay that's especially fun for children, though adults can have fun with them, as well.
Obviously, games like this won't be sporting amazing graphics, but they do get the job done. In many ways, both games look like original PlayStation titles on-screen, which isn't all that bad. The colors are bright, and animations are sufficient for game play. The sounds of the games are more limited, of course, but they're not bothersome for this type of game.
All you'll need are some RCA inputs (the yellow, red and white ones) and some AA batteries and you're set. (Both games also can use a 6V DC adaptor, which is not included, but a nice option nevertheless.) The games are in mono sound, so only the white (mono/left) plug needs to be used. Yes, they're simple, but Baseball 3 and Real Swing Golf's appeal isn't in their sound and graphics - it's in their interactivity - and each game performs better than expected in that regard.
Baseball 3 consists of a home-plate shaped unit with a baseball-shaped controller connected by wire and a plastic bat with a (mostly) soft barrel.
The bat has some sort of gadget on a slide inside it (I didn't dissect the unit to find out), and when you swing, there's an audible click as the centrifugal force generated by the swing sends this gadget up the barrel - triggering your swing. It works fine, with two caveats: first, you'll need to swing a wee bit earlier than you'd think, but this is easily adjusted to. Second, smaller children might have a problem generating the necessary bat speed to slide whatever-it-is down the barrel. My three-year-old daughter couldn't do it, try as she might. However, the game says it's for "Ages 8 and up," and I don't think kids of that age will have any problems.
The Home Run Derby mode will probably be the most popular to play, but Baseball 3 offers more than that. By using the baseball-shaped controller, and a combination of buttons on it, seven different pitches can be selected, and the pitch is thrown by "throwing" the baseball controller (don't let go of it, though!). Regular baseball games can be played in this manner. While the CPU will field the ball, pressing the D-pad towards the appropriate base and "throwing" the controller will toss the ball around the infield. "Bunt" and "Steal" buttons located on the bat along with the pitching and fielding controls available on the "baseball" allow two players to play a surprisingly engaging game of hardball.
Real Swing Golf comes with a small disc-shaped unit that you'll line up perpendicular to your TV screen. You'll swing the included miniature club over this disc, and small CMOS cameras will capture your swing, reflected off the shiny surface on the bottom of the club. It works surprisingly well, and although the club is plastic and rather lightweight, most people will be able to simulate a swing well enough. Sadly, I have a vicious hook on the real golf course, and Real Swing Golf captured it with disappointing (for me, at least) accuracy. The cameras registered my swing well regardless of the speed of my swing, which makes chipping and putting feel more natural.
Game play itself is straightforward. The game will pick the best club for you and aim down the center of the fairway or at the pin by default. Both club selection and shot direction can be overridden using buttons on the game's disc unit. Your speed and accuracy in your swing will do the rest. Surprisingly, you'll need to change your swing to get out bunkers or the rough, chip onto the green and putt. I've tried far, far, far more expensive devices like this for the PlayStation, PC and Xbox, and while this isn't as good as the very best of those, it actually holds its own rather well. I was pleasantly surprised, and found myself happily playing hole after hole in no time.
There are four modes of play: Round (a straight round of golf for one to four players), Match Play (for two players), Tournament (where you and a partner will play 18 while trying to beat computer-generated scores), and the Driving Range, where even my three-year old daughter can gleefully smack the ball around - watch out, Michelle Wie!
Both of these games are surprisingly solid performers, and their rather simple graphics and sounds belie their engaging and enjoyable game play. I've long been a fan of simple, pick-up-and-play games for the family, and both Baseball 3 and Real Swing Golf fit the bill nicely, while requiring a little physical activity and hand-eye coordination is a pleasant bonus.