The Sport of the Mayan Gods
There was a time back in the old days of game making where games didn’t need an elaborate backstory. People took whatever silly premise the developers were giving them and just ran with it. Maya Baseball is a perfect example of this. You play as a Mayan priest who runs a baseball team…who competes against other Mayan priests and their baseball teams. How did the Mayan people come to learn the great American Past-time? Why are they playing it against each other? Who cares! Maya Baseball isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously. This is both a good and a bad thing.
The gimmick for this game are the Mayan gods. Remember that you play as a Mayan priest. As a priest, you can appeal to the gods for blessings and special powers and abilities for your team. Your opponent can do the same. And when I say ‘blessing the team’ I don’t mean something boring like “Make your pitcher throw 5% faster” I mean invoking the will Oluboabi to turn that unfortunate pop-fly your batter just hit into a giant stone Easter island statue that renders it impossible to catch. (Yes I know that Olumboabi isn’t actually a Mayan god, and the Mayans had nothing to do with the Easter Island statues, but again, don’t take it too seriously). Or perhaps you curse a ball so that when your opponent throws it…it slowly orbits around them a few times before flying in its intended direction.
The first playthrough of the game was a blast, and seeing all the blessings and curses hit the field makes the game a light hearted romp. Once you get past the eye candy and the novelty however, is when you start to see some of the weaknesses in this title.
While all of the blessings and curses are indeed very creative and funny to watch…they are also HORRIBLY unbalanced. For example, there is a blessing “Stakkaso’s Punch” that will cause every ball you hit to be a line drive…and anyone who tries to catch it will be sent hurtling back to the back wall by the ball, and be unable to catch it. NONE of the defensive super powers can do a damn thing about it. Even the ones that slow your runners down dont’ slow them down enough to ensure they at least get on 1st. I won an entire season just by spamming that one power.
I call it complacent gaming syndrome…once you know the best strategy and powers…you find yourself using them all the time. And while there are over 100 creative blessings and curses, there are about 3 that are so overpowered that they render the other 97 completely worthless. This is the downside to “Not taking yourself too seriously” since game balance is in the “serious” category.
Since the AI doesn’t know what powers are good or not, and seemingly uses theirs at random… they are a non-threat even at the highest difficulty levels. In fact, putting them on the harder difficulty levels actually makes them easier to beat. This is because the high difficulty levels give them access to extra “Major God” blessings thus making them use those powers more. However, the three game-breaking powers are all the “Minor God” variety, meaning you can spam them every turn… high difficulty AI’s rarely use minor god powers, so you’re less likely to have the overpowered powers turned against you.
Add to this the lack of a season mode or any kind of team customization options…besides their powers… and you have a surprisingly short and shallow game. It is fun for a little while, but this is one you probably won’t pick up again after you finish it.