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Portalball – A Surprisingly Great Baseball Game for iOS from Joe Girardi

July 7th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I’ve been a fan of computer baseball games for as long as I can remember. Back when I was a kid I spent hours with my Mattell Electronics Handheld baseball game. I then logged hours playing Hardball for the Apple //e, getting obsessed to the point where I’d even keep box scores of my games. Over the years I kept looking for the most realistic computer baseball games out there, culminating most recently in an under-appreciated game for the Wii called The Cages: Pro Style Batting Practice and every version of MLB The Show for the Playstation. What I liked most about the latter two is its “virtual reality” where it lets you feel like you’re in the game.

Most recently I heard of a new game for iOS called PORTALBALL – Jordan Edelson. When I heard the premise of the game I started to roll my eyes. In it, you’re a participant in an alien invasion of Earth, and you fight off the invaders with–what else–pitching, hitting, and fielding a baseball.

Shake premise aside, once I downloaded the game I really loved it, as it pushes the envelope on a lot of things. First of all, it uses your phone’s camera to enable “augmented reality” so that the background of the game screen is your actual surroundings, against which you bat, field, and pitch balls. As you turn your body, the scene turns with you.

Gameplay itself is simple. To throw a ball you flick it with your finger or thumb. To bat, you swipe forward and back. To catch, you position your phone to match the ball. In all cases you’ll see a bullseye that serves as a “radar” to show you where the next ball is coming from.

Here’s a screenshot of me throwing a baseball at my living room window. Don’t worry, no glass nor pedestrians were harmed in the taking of this screenshot!


You can play against others in cyberspace, or just practice on your own.

What’s really cool about this game is its co-creator: Joe Girardi. That’s right, the same Joe Girardi who was catcher for the Yankees and is now their manager. In addition to providing ideas for the gameplay, Girardi also provided his baseball expertise to make the experience as realistic as possible. For example, when you swing a bat it’s Girardi’s actual swing path that’s represented on the screen.

There are a number of bonus in-game purchases for things like a virtually signed Girardi ball. Proceeds will be donated to Catch 25, Girardi’s charity that helps people in economic hardship and crisis.

I won’t go as far as to say that Portalball is the greatest computer baseball game ever made, I can say it introduces some really innovative things with augmented reality that make it worth the download for any baseball fan, and in-game purchases go to support a really great cause.



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