Diabolical Pitch is a rather strange and quirky Kinect game made by Grasshopper Manufacture. The title has you pitching fastballs at various doll enemies as they try to kill you. Think of it as more of an advanced shooting gallery, but instead of using a gun, you have to pitch baseballs at targets and collect as many points as possible.
As you start out you’re introduced to your character that is a famous pitcher. As he makes his final throw, something goes wrong and he ends up injuring his arm. From here on you end retiring from baseball, then shortly after end up leaving your apartment, which somehow ends up with you arriving at a dark carnival. You’re now faced with a journey to escape. At the stat of the carnival you’re informed of what to do and issued with a new arm to assist you. This allows you to perform power moves and improve your game.
Your journey consists with smashing your way through various waves of enemies through several different worlds. The worlds are made up different levels and followed up with a single bonus level at the end. You can take this fight to a local multiplayer if you have another player, but this isn’t a full requirement if you want to just enjoy the title on your own.
This game has a very strange setting with even stranger characters. Each new arena you enter has its own little story, which is introduced to you by a doll with a cow’s head. Each section is broken up with a short comic strip style cut-scene where you’re introduced to each new arena. The cut-scenes offer some story, but it’s not required to enjoy the title.
As you start out the music plays a small part in setting the scene, but once you get into the gameplay the music gets drowned out below enemy sounds. All the visuals are tied together well through high quality sound effects which suite the game’s theme. The one downside to the audio is that the sound effects from killing enemies and collecting items tends to over power the game’s music while playing the arena areas.
The overall graphic feel of the game is interesting and suites the dark carnival theme very well. There are times where you will see lower res texture on enemies, such as the bosses. You will also notice odd screen tearing in some cut-scenes but nothing that distracts from the overall experience. Each area and arena you find yourself in has its own style, which evolves as you progress through that world type. Though you’re repeating the same process with each arena the change in set pieces makes each area feel new and slightly different to the previous one you were playing.
As you start out the story is very direct and walks you through how you enter the carnival and how to get out. The writing is fairly direct and doesn’t waste too much time explaining what you have to do and why you’re taking part in this adventure. Each section of the game is broken up into themed areas which have their own little stories tied in. This is then explained through comic book like cut-scenes, which trail into the next arena.
Once you start playing through the different areas of the story you will notice that the story takes a back seat while you spend the rest of your time beating down the various enemies that come at you.
As you star the controls are simple, you’re walked through a tutorial that explains how to pitch and how to use the various tools at hand. The object of the game is obvious enough; hit all the enemies before they hit you. You can buy various upgrades for your character to improve your overall progress, as the game gets harder. With each arena area you enter, you will need to kill a few waves of enemies of varied skills and difficulty, and then you will need to defeat the area boss. This repeats through every area until section four. The last arena is more of a bonus round to earn points and money.
The overall gameplay is fairly fluid, but I’ve found several issues with the tracking. You will often pitch the ball and find that Kinect doesn’t track you, or it will throw it in the wrong direction. This may be bad luck on my experience, but it’s happened far more often that I would have liked. When the tracking works, it’s perfectly fine. But there are odd moments where there is some confusing between my actions, the sensor and the game. If you don’t run into any issues, the game plays extremely well and can be fairly rewarding once you get used to the controls.
As you progress you can unlock new abilities with the money you earn from the story mode. These vary from skills to earning extra points and so on. If you’re looking for a game to play with friends, Diabolical Pitch does offer a local multiplayer mode. This is basically just the story mode levels with a second player. This can be a little hit and miss due to the tracking, but everything always more fun with a friend.
If you can overlook the repetitive nature of the gameplay and the iffy tracking system, the game can be a lot of fun in moderation. It makes you think quickly and requires a quick reaction time to be good, but it can be a nice break from other titles if you’re after some mindless fun. If you want to experience something a little different for Kinect, this title will offer you a somewhat strange but interesting twist on baseball.
This title is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a game that stands out against the rest of the Kinect catalogue.