The second free 3DS game to be released to Western audiences is finally here. Is Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball worth the download?
Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball is essentially a mix between a visual novel and a collection of baseball related minigames. The visual novel aspect comes from having to converse with a dog named Rusty Slugger who owns a sporting goods store. He’s also getting into the video game business, and is trying to sell his video games to you.
At the start of the game, he’ll give you a free Nontendo 4DS (not a typo) gaming device and a free demo minigame called Bat & Switch. Throughout the game, you’ll be able to visit his store and engage Rusty in conversations with the main purpose of negotiating so that he’ll lower the prices of his videogames. If you negotiate well, Rusty will reduce his prices by 50% or even more. But the conversations aren’t limited to just haggling his prices down – Rusty will actually talk about his situation and about why he needs to succeed at his business.
If you have no intention to purchase any of the video games that Rusty is selling, you won’t be able to progress very far in this part of the game. Haggling involves more than just choosing the right options, sometimes you’ll need to make use of items that you can only get from playing the video games that he’s selling. Rusty’s storyline progresses only when you actually make a purchase.
Now, let’s move on to the Bat & Switch demo. Bat & Switch is a reflex game where you have to hit baseballs thrown at you in different ways – in Basic mode, there are five challenge types, and each type has up to five levels. In the demo, three challenge types with two levels each are available. Each one is different in the sense that the pitches are different – there’s a basic challenge where baseballs are simply lobbed at you, and then there’s one where there are two pitchers and you have to guess which one is going to actually pitch the ball.
The demo does give you a taste of Bat & Switch, but it’s quite lacking. The available challenges are very easy, you’d be done with all six in twenty minutes, and there’s very little replay value once you’ve gotten the gold medals for them.
I did purchase the full version at $2, and let me tell you that it’s worth the money. Bat & Switch offers five different Basic challenge types and five additional Advanced challenge types with five levels of difficulty each – a total of 50 minigames all in all. Plus, you have two additional endless modes where you keep playing for high scores, and it’s kind of addictive in the same sense that Flappy Bird was. You just keep wanting to beat challenges one after the other, or beat your previous high score. Very good value at that price.
I can’t describe the rest of the video games available for purchase though. There are a total of ten, but aside from one picture for each video game there’s really nothing else that will tell you if it’s good or not. Each of the games are priced at $4, so if you were to buy all without haggling, you’d be spending $40. As I mentioned before, negotiations can result in Rusty lowering his prices down, so you can get the games at $2 each or even lower. And it’s worth noting that only half of the games can be negotiated over. The prices of the other half can only be lowered via the use of discount coupons which can be obtained by playing purchased games.
Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball also allows you to exchange high score records via StreetPass , but it only works if you bought at least one of the video games. You also get items from Rusty’s puppy depending on the number of Street Pass tags that you get, but they’re useless unless you intend on making a purchase or two.
So is Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball good? Viewed solely as a free game, it’s not – you stop progressing after at most twenty minutes into it and there’s no reason to keep playing it after. Rather than have 6 challenges of Bat &Switch available for free, I would have preferred having one challenge each for all five of the Basic challenges so I could try them out and decide better on what to get.
The haggling and negotiations part of the game also feels lacking. The choices are limited and the path to getting the discounts is quite obvious. I think there would’ve been complaints if the discounts were obtained randomly or if it was too difficult to get the discounts since real money is involved, so I understand why the negotiation part is limited. As it is, there’s very little “game” to be played in Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball without spending anything.
If viewed as an approach for offering a minigame collection, I’d say that there are some good ideas here. You’re free to purchase the minigames at your own pace, and if the rest of the minigames were as good as Bat & Switch, then they’re pretty good deals. The low price point (again, $2 or less!) is ideal for impulse purchases, especially for those who sometimes need to scratch that itch to buy a new game. I also think that by having all of the minigames revolve around the theme of baseball, there’s better cohesiveness than if there wasn’t any theme at all.
Aside from the value of the minigames, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball also rewards your purchases by advancing Rusty’s storyline, which does have a weird kind of appeal. So that $2 that I spent for the full version of Bat & Switch? I didn’t get just a full minigame, I also got to see more of Rusty’s story.
My final verdict? If you like quick and simple reflex minigames like Flappy Bird, can appreciate baseball-themed games, and are willing to shell out a reasonable amount of cash, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball might be up your alley. But if you’re just thinking about downloading it because you’re thinking it’s a free game, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball won’t offer you a lot.