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Review: HOMERUN BATTLE 2 (iOS)

Saturday, November 26th, 2011 by

Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” So, rather than beat around the bush, I’m just going to tell you not to purchase HOMERUN BATTLE 2. It’s home to the most blatant abuse of in-app purchases that I’ve ever witnessed.

If you’d like some details then come on in.

Still here? Welcome. I’ve made some tea.

For the uninitiated, the game is entirely a home run derby. It’s still a surprisingly tight accelerometer-based game where you tilt and tap to knock balls out of the park. Every once in a while, the pitcher will throw special balls. The effects vary and some are only seen in multiplayer match-ups. Your primary currency, however, is the “gold ball.” Hit one out of the park and it’s yours. Collect enough to unlock other uniforms that make your character more powerful. There are achievements that reward you gold balls to help you along. Sounds good, right?

But not all is right with the game. While they aren’t the first to use the model, Com2uS has employed a secondary currency, stars, that you can obtain through in-app purchases. You can also convert gold balls to stars, but the exchange rate is a joke. All the most powerful gear is bought with stars. The second you purchase stars, your gold balls are rendered obsolete. If you want to win in multiplayer, you’re going to have to pay.

There are a number of ways that Com2uS strong-arms the player into a in-app purchases of stars. Aside from the competition factor, one of the achievements requires you to unlock 10 uniforms packages. The number of uniform packages you can unlock just with gold balls? Seven.

The most egregious abuse of all, though, is the advertised “gender” customization. It’s true. You can make your avatar a woman. What they never tell you, though, is that it will cost you 990 stars just to unlock her. If you want to customize her? That’s going to cost you more stars. Lots more. Oh, guess which currency you’re going to use if you want to equip her with gender-exclusive equipment! 1100 stars can be purchased for the low, low price of $9.99 or, put into perspective, twice as much as you paid for the app itself.

This should be one of the pictures in the App Store preview.

Had I known all of this coming into the game, I never would have spent five dollars. I don’t like carrots dangling in front of me, even if they are optional. Aside from the rapid action of “Burning Mode” and smoother retina-display graphics, I cannot cite any reason to purchase HOMERUN BATTLE 2 over HOMERUN BATTLE 3D. Moreover, the betrayal I feel after buying HOMERUN BATTLE 2 feels like a bait-and-switch.

Is there a good time to be had without purchases? Yes. However, knowing I will never see all facets of a game that I like because I’m not willing to spend more money or insane amounts of time farming gold balls to exchange for stars is enough to taint my view. Knowing that people out there will have a large advantage in competitive multiplayer simply because they have more money to spend? It is shameless and ruins what is, otherwise, a good game.

Composite Comparison - Left: HOMERUN BATTLE 2 / Right: HOMERUN BATTLE 3D

Imagine how angry Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 players would be if Activision sold some sort of armor or weapon boost that would give an advantage to players who didn’t pay for it. Not just that game session, either, but for the entirety of the game’s existence. Of course, Activision isn’t that stupid. Com2uS, apparently, is.

Don’t get me wrong. If you enjoyed HOMERUN BATTLE 3D, then you’ll likely enjoy HOMERUN BATTLE 2.  The batting feels right and looks better than ever with retina-display graphics, a steadier frame rate, additional play modes, and the same great multiplayer elements. However, it was designed to bleed cash from users. I expect this from a free-to-play game. But for a game that I’ve paid a premium to obtain, this is unacceptable.

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 339 posts on Delta Attack
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  • Markham Asylum

    Lame sauce. A prime example of microtransactions done wrongly.

    • Fade to Slack

      I actually forgot and am now about to edit this, the second you do purchase stars, you render almost all gold ball purchases obsolete. Thus, the only reason to keep playing is to win or for the fun of it.

  • Brenden

    Their pay-to-win model has left me in disgust. One simply cannot compete with those that have doled out cash for better gear that gives them +400 point monster shots on every swing. Screw this game.

    • Fade to Slack

      You can compete, but it just takes a shitload of work. It’s actually easier, now, after some changes to the game.

      I made a guide that can give you some assistance. Ignore the Christmas stuff and it’ll give you a fighting chance.

      http://www.deltaattack.com/2011/12/21/homerun-battle-2-tips-and-tricks/

      I’ve spoken with Com2uS in the past about how lame this feels, though, and they’ve been working out balance issues. They added three achievements to help people willing to work things out. But, as you can see, there are a LOT of users who are willing to shell out money to feel like a winner.

      It’s unfortunate that an otherwise great game is tainted by in-app purchases. Com2uS has gotten a bit of notoriety for these practices, though. I feel bad for the PR representative, as she’s likely got to field a lot of complaints just like ours.

      • http://wisebobo@gmail.com Brenden

        I saw your guide but had already surpassed that level of gear by the time I read it. I did grind out getting the Bandana though which was a helpful tip. Even with that, all white tiger gear (except for a different pair of shoes), and a CF4 Demarini, I’m still getting out hit by people who doled out cash. This is especially true for those wearing any combination of the devil gear.

        • Fade to Slack

          Being in Asia, my match-ups often consist of Japanese players who paid the insane amount for the female batter with the evening gown gear. I feel your pain, though to a lesser extent.

          I’ve long since quit playing HRB2 regularly and, really, only have it installed to update this guide every now and again.