Bases Loaded (NES) Retro Review
Game Name: Bases Loaded
Developer: Jaleco and Tose (NES version)
Genre: Sports, Baseball
Platforms: Arcade, NES and Game Boy
Release Date: July 1988 (NES)
Since spring training is around the corner and what a better time than to talk about baseball.
If you watch me stream on Twitch, you know that I am a sports fan. I play pretty much any sports game like Basketball (NBA Jam), Hockey (Blades of Steel), Soccer (International Soccer) and even Boxing (Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!!). I always loved baseball. I was saddened when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington. Since then, I do not follow baseball as much but that does not mean that I do not like the sport.
Unlike most sports, where if you blink, you might miss a play, I like the passive approach of baseball. You can go with a few friends and actually carry a conversation while having a beer.
To honor this great sport, I decided to review Bases Loaded on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Let us see if it still holds up.
Bases Loaded was pretty innovative Let us start with the graphics. These were amazing for the time. The players looked like players and the stadium actually looked like a real stadium. My only other exposure until then to video game baseball was Baseball on the Atari 2600 and the NES official Baseball game. Let us say that the look and feel of those games were not as good as one would have hoped.
On the cover, it boasted that it had real voices and sounds which was true. You could hear the umpires saying "Strike" and "Out". One thing that always struck me is when you change pitcher, the game actually says, "Change Pitcher". It sounded so real.
When the game starts, the player can choose a team. Back then there were no licenses, so these are just generic city teams with random players that you would have never heard about. Here is an example of the screen.
As you can see nothing flashy here. I also always liked the names for the umpires. In this case it is Yuk, Dum, Boo and Bum. Very original if you ask me. :)
Once you choose your team, you get to choose your pitcher for the match. To be honest, I do not think that choosing the pitcher makes a huge difference. There are some pitchers that may tire more easily but in general I just choose the pitcher with the lowest ERA (Earned Runs Average).
Then the game will start. The first thing that the player will notice, is that the pitcher and batter actually look like they are real players. The pitcher will wind up and throw over the head. Some other pitchers will throw with a side arm which brought a nice authenticity to the game.
The batters as well all stood differently. Every team has at least one batter who is a home run hitter. This is usually the sweeper which is the 4th batter in the order. I do not think that this game plays with DH (Designated Hitters). The pitcher would bat in the 9th spot. For those that are old school, that would be the National League rules.
The controls themselves are pretty good. They are easy to get used to and feel just right. For some other baseball games, the controls sometimes feel sluggish but not here. If you want to throw to first base you would press on the right directional pad (D-Pad) and press A. The D-Pad represented the baseball diamond and all you needed to do is press the direction that you wanted to throw at and B.
On offence, you have A and B that you can press. If you press B, the batter will bunt. If they press A, the batter will have a normal swing. You can also press the D-Pad if you wanted to swing at a pitch outside of the strike zone. This was really cool for me at the time, as other games simply just pressed a button and the hit was based on a completely random algorithm. Here it felt like you can have control. While a batter hit the ball, you can press on the direction of the base so that you can run to the next base. So if you wanted to go to second base you pressed up and the A button. The same would apply for stealing a base.
What was truly unique for me about this game was that you were able to play a full 162 game season. After every game you would receive a password for the next game. This would happen until the last game of the season and you could win the pennant. Although this game was pretty advanced at the time, it still did not have the idea of playoffs.
This game still holds up to this day. I am not sure if people would play the full season back then. But I had years and years of fun as it was the only baseball game that I owned, until I bought Hardball 4 for my PC.
Even if you just pick this game up for a game or two it is still fun. I was never a huge fan of subsequent releases of this franchise. I find that it lost its arcade feel.
This game is the golden standard for Baseball on the NES in my book. Where I have Blades of Steel for Hockey and Tecmo Bowl for Football, this one is one of the best sports games of all time.
One of the advantages of owning the original cartridge is that, most ROM's for this game, do not have the speech module in it, which for me is one of the big perks of playing it.
The animations for this game are just off the charts When a player hits a home run, you see a disappointed pitcher on his knees while the batter runs the bases. That was just awesome.
The sound is great. I do admit the bats sound like steel or metal but that is fine. It fits in well with the rest of the game so I do not mind it.
With games today with updated rosters and stats, people forget how fun the basic game of baseball could be. I dare anyone to play this game and not have fun. Yes the graphics may seem outdated, but the game itself is still as fun today as it was the day that my dad bought this for me for my birthday.
What do you think? have I gone mad? Let me know.