Review: Diabolical Pitch Is a Swing and a Miss (Xbox Live Arcade)

Despite some wacky ideas, Grasshopper’s latest for Kinect gets too old, too fast.

When you create a game for a motion-sensitive device, you have to keep things not only interesting, but fresh.  Stick with the same ideal too long and mundane feelings set in, leaving the player wondering why they’re still playing an hour into the game.  Some games have avoided these pratfalls, including Child of Eden and, most recently, Star Wars Kinect.  However, Diabolical Pitch, sadly, doesn’t avoid this rut.

The game, the latest project from Grasshopper Manufacture, has an interesting premise that, sadly, never really gets anywhere.  The game puts you in the shoes of a former pitching great who’s had to retire due to a bummer of an arm injury.  However, that doesn’t stop him from being transported to a demonic amusement park, where monsters and zombies are popping up everywhere to make his life miserable.  In order to defend himself, the pitcher needs a weapon – and he gets it in the form of a bionic arm that enables him to perform the kind of super-powered pitches to knock this undead horde into another ballpark.

Like we said, this is an interesting premise – at first.  However, about five minutes in, you’ll notice a couple of big problems with Diabolical Pitch.  The first is the gameplay.  Now, throwing balls is second nature to pitching fans, and you’ll be doing a lot of that here, between routine throws and special pitches that look sensational when you pull them off.  However, the game’s controls aren’t always properly read, and as a result, a pitching maneuver can easily slip by, costing you some precious energy because of that.

But that’s not all.  The gameplay never really changes.  And we mean at all.  This would be perfect for those looking for some quick one-to-two minute mini-games to test their strength, but the stages can span as far as 20 minutes, maybe even more.  By that time, your arm will be so sore, you’d think you were on the losing side of a bean ball at a New York Yankees game.  And without variety to give your arm a break or anything like that (not even a relaxing activity to get you back into the groove), you’ll wonder why you’re wearing yourself down performing the same old motions, over and over.