Home Run Derby, the MLB’s annual slugging contest, is such a good fit for PlayStation VR that we’re surprised this game took 18 months to materialise. It’s been developed by the same group responsible for R.B.I. Baseball 18, but unlike that title, its arcade-esque simplicity works in its favour. In essence, you’ve got 90 seconds to hit as many balls home as you can – enjoy.
It actually works surprisingly well. The pitching is extremely slow – even on the more simulation-based pro difficulty – so it’s quite easy to crack killer shot after killer shot, but this isn’t a Wii Sports-esque wrist-flicking fest. The millimetre precision of the PlayStation Move controller, paired with virtual reality’s 360-degree tracking, means you need to follow the flight of the ball and swing through it.
Granted, the game gives you superhuman arm strength so you can replicate Aaron Judge’s real-life achievements, but wimpy twitches aren’t going to send the ball into the stand. You really do have to crack it, and even then we struggled to get the Trophy for a 125mph contact – it’s not as easy as it sounds.
The problem here is the price. With only three stadiums available – Progressive Field, Nationals Park, and Marlins Park – you can see everything the game has to offer in a matter of minutes. Yes, the replay value comes from trying to improve your score, but there’s only so much time you can spend hitting home runs – irrespective of how entertaining it is.
The stadiums do look decent with PlayStation VR; they lack the clarity and meticulous attention to detail of an MLB The Show game, but they’re authentic enough representations to give you a sense of place. They also play slightly differently, due to the placement of multiplier tokens which you can aim for to increase your score.
But there’s really not a whole lot else to say. For a whopping $19.99, it’s really difficult to recommend. The batting gameplay is actually good fun, as it feels like the perfect blend between pure arcade and simulation; you’ve got to bat properly, but you don’t need to be a pro to reach the stands. It’s just far too pricey for something that will, effectively, last you a couple of hours max.
Home Run Derby VR makes the act of slugging entertaining, thanks to good PlayStation Move motion tracking and a strong balance between arcade and simulation gameplay. But the price of entry is far too high for a title that only includes three stadiums and one game type – even if it is ultimately rather fun to play.