After a twelve-year playoff drought, my beloved Chicago White Sox were recently knocked out of the post-season. Thankfully, there was not a disputed result. But if there was, the baseball trivia game Hardball Rules might have come in handy.
Most diehard baseball fans may think that they know the game’s rulebook, but there are a lot of obscure rules that can pop up from time to time. And that’s the crux of Hardball Rules. It tests your knowledge of the sports’ rulebook and various on-field scenarios.
Hardball Rules lets fans compete against each other or AI. The mobile game has nine-inning contests that put your knowledge of the sport’s rules to the test. Each inning starts with a series of questions. Whichever team is playing offense fields the questions. There is no defensive element to the game.
When your team is up to bat, you receive your first question. The questions are timed. Plus, the questions correspond to an offensive opportunity depending on the difficulty. For instance, an easy question may only earn a single or walk. A difficult question may award a homerun. The game lets you know in advance what you’ll earn from each question.
The answers are all multiple choice, so you have a one in four chance of getting on base just from guessing. However, getting the question wrong counts as an out. There are no balls or strikes. You either get a hit, walk, or out. Once your team runs out of outs, it’s your opponent’s turn – whether they are a real person or the AI.
Even playing against the AI, you still have to wait for your opponent to go through their whole turn. Once they put three outs on the board, it’s your turn again. This would be a good opportunity to describe what you see on your screen, so let me touch on that next.
The top of the screen features a scoreboard with runs for each inning, total runs, total hits, and total errors. Below the scoreboard is a baseball diamond with red dots representing runners on the bases. It tells you the number of current outs and whose turn it is. The rest of the screen is the question and the possible answers, which you tap with your finger.
Fundamentally, Hardball Rules is a solid trivia game. Some of the questions are worded poorly. Others are simply obscure rules that you wouldn’t know unless you were an umpire. But this is a trivia game based on the rulebook of baseball, so that’s not terribly unexpected.
However, the errors that pop up during gameplay and the assault of ads are not forgivable. True, Hardball Rules is a free-to-play game. The developers need to make a profit. I don’t fault them for that, but there’s also an expectation that in-game ads should be reasonable. Ads popping up after every few questions is unreasonable. It ruins the experience.
To begin with, it’s not like this is the most exciting game. Add the constant bombardment of ads on top of it and it becomes a real test of patience. If the developers at Schow scale back the ads and fix the glitches, it’ll be a more playable game. I hope they do because it has potential.