If you’ve ever played baseball but wanted it to be more illegal, well… you should probably find a new sport to play. After that, though, you should try out Lethal League Blaze, a fighting game based on hitting your opponent with a baseball. It was released in 2018 as the sequel to 2014’s Lethal League with much of the same gameplay and more polish.
Most fighting games have the two players trading punches or kicks. Lethal League has a different focal point. It adds a ball that the two players fight to control throughout the match. You can only hit the ball, and the trick is to hit it at your opponent and dodge it when they hit it at you. The ball can ricochet off of the floor, ceiling, and walls, and its speed increases every time you hit it. This very quickly becomes chaotic and nearly impossible to follow, and yet it’s still entertaining to try and get the ball to go as fast as it can without you or your opponent being hit. You could also grab or bunt the ball to change up the direction of the ball. Grabbing it will throw the ball in a straight line either vertically or horizontally, and bunting will slow the ball’s speed for a second or two. The trick to winning is to keep track of the ball and predict where both the ball and your opponent will go. If you can’t keep track of the ball at higher speeds, that’s okay. In my experience, most rounds tend to end before things get too crazy. This unique system is just deep enough to be interesting for competitive players, while also having a fun premise that’s easy to get into. It’s very easy to have fun with some friends on the couch, especially when you didn’t see the ball coming and there’s a funny freeze frame at the end of a round.
The cast of fighters are colorful and unique in their own ways. You can play as a skateboarding robot, a sentient boombox, or a crocodile in a leather jacket, among other characters. Each character has their own special attack, like changing the ball’s direction midair, or giving it a second speed boost. The story goes that all the characters are a part of the Lethal League, an underground sports club whose naming committee values coolness over public image. They are hounded at every turn by the Safety League, who vows to control everyone in a twisted view of safety, and was apparently founded by a group of helicopter parents. The story isn’t much to write home about, but fighting games have never needed a strong story to be fun and engaging. Lethal League Blaze has backstories for individual characters and a simple context for the world they live in, which is all it needs to be interesting. The story campaign introduces you to all the characters and most of the gamemodes, including teams and 4-player free-for-alls. The rest of the game then lies in online play and couch multiplayer with your friends.
Lethal League Blaze is a fast-paced, fun, and exciting game to relax with and play with your friends on friday nights. The premise of hitting a ball around is fresh and unique, and the characters are interesting and memorable. It’s not the biggest game out there, but it makes the most of what it has to deliver an enjoyable experience.
Language: some very situational ambient voice lines
Violence: The premise of the game is hitting cartoon characters with a baseball.