Grasshopper Manufacture has made some very memorable games: Killer 7, No More Heroes, and Shadows of the Damned come to mind. Heck, Lollipop Chainsaw has a big following and that game isn't even out yet. (It does involve a sexy cheerleader, chainsaws, and zombies, so it's kind of in the internet's wheelhouse.) The studio is known for outrageous characters and innovative gameplay. While Diabolical Pitch isn't as captivating as previous titles, it is not without it's charm.
Let's get this out of the way right now: Diabolical Pitch is an 800 MSP ($10) Kinect game. Motion controls are required, not optional. You can't even navigate the menus with a controller. If you're not into Kinect games, this is not the title for you. The entire game is based upon a throwing motion with your dominant hand. If you're out of shape, or even in shape, but don't throw a ball regularly, DP will let you know it. Hard. I'm out of shape and I haven't thrown a baseball in over fifteen years, so I was hurting. There is more to it than simple throwing, but the repetitive motion makes up 90% of the action. A second local co-op player can ease the work load. I'll have more details on the co-op later.
You, or more specifically, your arm, will want to bring a friend.
DP has little in terms of story. It's basically a minor distraction made up of slightly menacing cut scenes. You'll be playing as a major league pitcher, simply known as McAllister, He's a former star who has somehow lost his skill. One minute McAllister is on the mound, pitching in the proverbial "big game," the next he finds himself in an abandoned amusement park, waxing philosophic with a mechanical cow. Suddenly, ax-wielding, blood-covered animatronic puppets appear! McAllister is quickly outfitted with a magic arm that allows him to hurl baseball-flavored death at his attackers! Did all that just happen? Yes, it did. It's a Grasshopper game.
DP is basically a shooting gallery where you throw baseballs at ever-advancing mechanical monstrosities. You can wind up and throw like a man, but you'll destroy your arm if you're not used to the motion. Even your in-game persona will become fatigued if you overdo it. I found a simple dart-throwing motion worked very well, and it still killed my arm after a few levels. If you play with a friend the game doesn't seem to scale up in difficulty, so you can save yourself a lot of pain. You can also exit the game and switch arms in the menus, if you wish. I threw lefty for a few levels, and it wasn't too bad. If you do leave a game before completing a full world, or if you have to retry a level, you will lose your score. Leaderboard hunters be warned! (Level progression will be saved.)
It's hard to mess up on a "Good, Awesome, Good" meter.
The game is divided into five different theme worlds, and each of these is made up of four stages. There's the Adventure stage, the Horror Stage, the Space Stage, etc. Picture a dirty theme park devoid of life and happiness, like a Disney Detroit, and you get the idea. The enemies themselves have little variety. Filthy, beast-headed, bipedal robots wield swords and axes, or they throw spiked baseballs and saw blades at your face. Most of the creatures are pretty slow and easy to hit, save for a few bosses and flying eagles. In the later levels you may be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. For the most part, it's pretty easy going. Especially if you play with a friend.
There is more to the game than simply giving yourself tendonitis. You can also kick nearby enemies, as well as catch, jump, or duck to avoid projectiles. Once you've dispatched a few baddies you can use your Diabolical Pitch. These super-powered pitches come in six varieties, and they do massive damage. Each one is activated by performing a different set-up motion, then unleashing hell on your enemies. For example: Raise your hands to power up the Fireball, drop your hands to throw it. The Kinect does a satisfactory job of picking up the motions, but there were times when I was a little frustrated because my Cannon Pitch pose or other setup wouldn't register.