Previews// Diabolical Pitch

Posted 2 Dec 2011 09:59 by
When is a baseball game not a baseball game? When you're simply throwing balls at incoming zombies, clowns and all sorts of other bizarre creatures? Ask Grasshopper Manufacture, a studio hard at work on Diabolical Pitch.

As you would expect from SUDA51's development house, it's a Kinect title that takes a simple motion-controller game concept - the sports genre - and peppers it with a ridiculous premise and hilarious presentation.

You assume the role of a burly baseball pitcher, who is the last line of defence for the survival of the human race. The aim is to pitch your way through waves of oncoming enemies, while taking advantage of multipliers and racking up a high score in an array of themed worlds.

The standard method of attack is the over arm pitch, which is a pretty easy action to perform. But what kind of Grasshopper game would this be without a twist? You can choose one of several power ups that will require a unique motion to pull off and can dramatically change the state of play if you're getting overrun by enemies.

Some of the power ups I was able to see included elemental quirks like Thunder, which automatically shocks all baddies on screen, and mechanical aids such as Cannon, which provides you with a minigun that can be aimed using your hand as a pointer.

Meteor is my favourite though, with you drawing both arms up from the floor and then making a throwing motions from over your head to mimic the character grabbing a massive asteroid and literally smashing it onto the ground. It wipes out practically all life. And it's absolutely ridiculous.

To stop you from constantly swinging your arm about and potentially popping it from its socket or something, the game has a failsafe that kicks in when you fill up the stamina gauge too quickly. Cleverly, your character will get 'fatigued' and decide he wants to have a lie down for a bit - the screen will then take the time to tell you off for being so enthusiastic.

In terms of how well Kinect can read your movement in this fast-paced game, the accuracy in pitching is pretty good, even when playing with a friend. As the photo of myself and my mate Lewis demonstrates, Diabolical Pitch is a bloody dumbfounding experience at first - largely because you're trying to wrap your head around the premise of the game as the action unfolds. It's lots of fun.

However, in co-op mode you can perform additional actions that will allow you to revive your teammate if they get downed by an enemy. To request help, you have to kneel down and hold your hands up and towards your friend. Your friend in turn has to reach down and grab your hand. While the game was detecting the fallen player reaching up, it was having trouble reading the rescue manoeuvre.

Obviously, the game still has a way to go - and Grasshopper tells me that it is still ironing out the kinks - but for the most part this is on track to be a nice throwaway party game that will appeal to those who want something a little out of the ordinary. Diabolical Pitch is heading for a release early-ish next year.

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