Diabolical Pitch

pitchcover
7.5 Overall Score
Controls: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Level of Crazy: 10/10

Unique design I Fun gameplay

Kinect not accurate enough.

Written by on April 4, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

When tasked with explaining the gist of a game, I am normally able to do so without much hesitation.  Even for the most unique games, I can explain the concept and story without a bat of an eye.  With that said, when tasked with explaining Diabolical Pitch I am tempted to just say, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

You play as a baseball pitcher who suffers a career ending injury during the playoffs.  After a depressed joy ride through the city, he gets into an accident and suddenly finds himself in an amusement park  where a “doll” reminiscent  of “Frank the Bunny” from Donnie Darko explains that he has to fight his way out of the park using a bionic arm to throw baseballs at his enemies.  As you progress you learn more about yourself as “Frank” compares your failed life to the park.

You get all that?  Yeah, me neither.

Gameplay is really easy to pick up, as you are essentially making a throwing motion toward the screen  to destroy murderous “dolls” who all share Frank’s design.  They seem more like zombies than dolls to me since they are human sized and splatter blood in all directions, but I’ve never had dolls try to kill me, so this could be entirely accurate for all know.  Over time you can use a special attack called the “Diabolical Pitch” that unleashes one of the unique attacks and tells us where the title of the game comes from.  Between sections, you can spend in game currency to buy new Diabolical Pitches, increase the scoring of the many pick ups, and even develop power ups.

As you progress during the game, you will use more advanced techniques, like catching or hitting projectiles, jumping over or crouching under saw blades, and locking onto targets.  All of these skills will be necessary to progress in the increasingly difficult levels and you can even double up on the action by bringing in a second player.

The gameplay is spectacular after you get used to it and I always had a fantastic time replaying the levels just so I could see how the enemies react to the different Diabolical Pitches as I electrocute them and smack their projectiles back at them.  The chaos on screen can get frantic as you combine your skills to become the ultimate killing machine.  Sometimes, it might even be a little too frantic since the motions for the Diabolical Pitch is sometimes not picked up making you break your rhythm.

The interesting thing to me is that all of the issues I had with the game are all Kinect related.

The biggest issue, I think due to the pervasive nature of the game mechanic, is “Fatigue”.  If you throw too frequently, you will temporarily not be able to throw balls because your character is “injured”.  This seems like a strange thing to add to the game since your real life arm will start aching to the point of pausing, but I suspect that this might have been the point.  I’m sure the developers wouldn’t want to really injure anyone.

Another issue I had was the accuracy of Kinect.  When I first started the game, I was having a blast tossing baseballs at the “dolls”, but the game has a boss in the first area that was an exercise in patience.  I had to restart the entire level over ten times before I was able to best this opponent.  I know this because there was an achievement that I unlocked by restarting the level that many times.  By the time I figured out how to best the baddie, I had iced down my shoulder, recalibrated Kinect, turned on all the lights, ANYTHING that I thought would help.  There was such a feeling of accomplishment (and crippling arm pain) that swelled in me when I defeated the boss, but then the game never challenged me like that again.

 

I’m not sure how to categorize the failure of that one boss battle; however.  I’m not sure if it was a problem with me being awful at video games (which can be true on a case by case basis), if the boss was just too difficult for its placement in the game, or that the Kinect just isn’t accurate enough for the play mechanic used.  I’m putting my chips on the last option.

The boss in question, at the risk of giving a spoiler for the very first Area, shoots missiles out of its fuzzy neck of death.  The way you are supposed to stop them is by locking onto them and throwing a ball.  This isn’t a huge deal with the first couple of projectiles since they come at you one at a time, but soon the “doll” starts shooting three at you at the same time.  The slow moving explosives meandered toward me and I would easily shoot down the first, but had trouble with the second and third because I couldn’t get the lock on to…well…lock on.  Eventually, I discovered that if I was to lean into the Kinect to where my body was slightly under it, I was more accurate and quickly beat the guy.

I know I spent a lot of time on this one gripe that I had with the game, but I think it speaks to a larger issue with Kinect in general in that it just doesn’t work as well as I would want for core gaming.

Still, I would absolutely recommend downloading a copy of Diabolical Pitch as it may be the best evidence that it is entirely possible for a compelling experience from the Kinect.  It also proves that we still have a long way to go.

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Author: Wallace Phelps View all posts by

2 Comments on "Diabolical Pitch"

  1. Nightskyre April 4, 2012 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Thanks for the review! I was (and still am) actually pretty interested in checking this one out!

  2. Wallace Phelps April 4, 2012 at 9:33 am - Reply

    It was my pleasure! I don’t think that you will regret picking it up.

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