GameCube Index Episode 67: Jikkyo Pawafuru Puroyakyu 9

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We’ve already begun to touch upon Konami’s Jikkyo World Soccer series, which was a long running soccer game series that ended in the early 2000s. After we got done talking about how great the 2002 entry was (please refer to episode 38 for more), we mentioned that the series ended as Konami diverted their attention to their long running Jikkyo Powerful Pro Yakyuu series. Well, it’s time to dive into just what that series is like with Jikkyo Powerful Pro Yakyuu 9.

Known on the box as Jikkyo Pawafuru Puroyakyu 9, and often simply as Pawapuro to non-Japanese speakers, Konami’s long-running baseball series is also one of the longest running game franchises with the most number of games, similar to Pro Evolution or Final Fantasy. With the first entry on the Super Famicom back in 1994, Pawapuro became an annualized release, much like 2K sports titles, and it’s still in stores today. By the time 9 rolled around in 2002, it was actually the 12th entry in the series, growing each year with new features and play options.

Instead of going for realism like its soccer-centered sibling, the graphics and all-around presentation of Pawapuro are somewhat childlike, in the vein of Rayman. Players have huge heads without detailed features – all expressions are communicated through their eyebrows, and they don’t have arms or legs. Hands and feet simply float where they’re supposed to be, giving an incredibly cartoonish style to the game. Known as Pawapurokun, these cute little dudes bring a good amount of personality to the game, considering they don’t have mouths and can’t express very much. The stadiums and fields are very basic, but being a fast-moving baseball game, your attention won’t be drawn away from the field very often.

The standard modes that you’d expect from a baseball game are there, such as exhibition matches, home run derby, etc. But the big draw to the series is the Success Mode. Presented as a cross between an RPG, a life-sim, and a baseball title, Success Mode tasks the player with bringing your personal Pawapurokun all the way from the bottom to the pro leagues. Your character starts out with low stats and levels up as you progress, and is heavily impacted by randomized events, leading to a high replay value and driving a desire to train the perfect Pawapurokun. The Success Mode is incredibly text heavy, so if you’re importing the game without the ability to read Japanese, you’re going to have a bad time.

The controls, in my experience, tend to match the graphics style; that is: simplified. When hitting, you do have a few options and can easily choose if you want to hit some grounders or try for a home run. The problem that I ran into was with pitching. There only appears to be one pitch option, so no fastballs or changeups, but this also makes it a lot tougher to get the ball past the batter. I frequently found myself trailing by a dozen or more runs in the first two innings, and I’m not that terrible at baseball games. While this was frustrating, it’s the type of frustrating that makes you want to try even more.

This was a tough game to work on as there is little to no documentation online specifically about Jikkyo Powerful Pro Yakyuu 9, and I can’t read Japanese, so a lot of what I know was found through the trial and error of going through menus and modes. Because of this, I would only recommend checking it out if you can read and understand Japanese so you can properly enjoy your time. If you can’t, the series finally made it to the United States in 2007 as MLB Power Pros for the Wii, and again in 2008, and these would be a great way to get the Pawapuro experience without being confused.

Did you ever play Jikkyo Pawafuru Puroyakyu 9? What did you think of it? What did you like or hate about the game?

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About Geoff Girardin

Geoff Girardin is the producer of GCNdex, a weekly series that covers every GameCube game in chronological order. He also helped make a tiny human (who was named after Luke Skywalker), and he eats so much that his wife is worried. You can follow him on Twitter @geoffgirardin, or keep up with his experience with fatherhood on geoffgirardin.com.

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