Game Name: Baseball
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: October 18, 1985 in North America
Platform: Famicom, Nintendo Entertainment System and GameBoy
Recently I reviewed Bases Loaded on the NES. This time, I wanted to look at another Baseball game since the new MLB (Major League Baseball) season has started.
I remember playing this game on a multi-cart (an NES cartridge with many games). I would play this once in a while and I wanted to give you my thoughts on this forgettable game.
If you remember my Tennis (NES) review a few weeks back you will find many of the commentary the same. This was Nintendo's attempt to have some sports games in their library. These included Ice Hockey, Soccer, Tennis and Golf, just to name a few. These all had something in common. The games were the sports themselves stripped down to their bare bones.
This game is no different. You basically play the games one game at a time. I do not remember any season mode. Since there were no licenses, the team names are generic and have nothing special.
Let us start with the positives. The game is very easy to pick up and play. The learning "curve" is not very big. Yes, I did a really bad pun, sue me. :) The perspective of the game play is always from behind the catcher. It actually feels like the camera is on the balcony seats looking down. It does not bother me as you get a good view of the field when you hit the ball. The pitching is cool. You do not have the idea of picking pitches but you can change the direction of the pitch, mid stride so it may look like your pitch is a curve or a fast ball.
The batting also is pretty easy to control. You can move your player within the batting box and it is only one button to hit the ball. When you hit a Home Run, it is a little disappointing. The fans flicker, similar to Punch Out and then you round the bases. In Bases Loaded, it feels like an event when you hit a Home Run. Here it just feels like you are hitting a regular base hit.
The fielding is where this game really loses me. The players feel like they are stuck in cement. When you hit in the outfield, the players feel very sluggish and it feels like it takes forever to fetch a ball. It takes away from the experience.
Like in Tennis, there are no voices in the game which is disappointing. You hear sounds when a batter is out or safe.
There are also no appearance of stats. In Bases Loaded, it did not really keep the stats but you did see some random stats for the players. This does not even show you anything. In retrospect that was for me a little disappointing.
Baseball (NES) - Sample Gameplay (courtesy World of Longplays)
Is this worth playing? In my opinion not really. I understand what they were going for. This is a more cartoony version of baseball. It is not aiming for realism like with Bases Loaded. It is going for those quick one or 2 games and then you are done experiences.
Unfortunately, this game gets boring fast. Unlike Ice Hockey, where the music is good and you feel engaged, here it feels like it was a game put together really fast. To be honest, I am surprised as Japan has a lot of baseball fans but I guess that did not translate to the game.
I still say that the cream of the crop of baseball on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is the first Bases Loaded. It is fun, engaging and has a great soundtrack. May be this could ahve been fun back in the day but now it shows its age and I honestly cannot say that I enjoy this game anymore.
From all the first party sports games, I think that this one is one of the weakest. I did not play Soccer yet, but I have played Ice Hockey, Tennis and Baseball and the latter is by far the worst experience. I am for simple and fun but Baseball on the NES is so stripped down, it took away the baseball spirit. Players are too sluggish and there is no reason to return to the game with no championship mode. They did not need to include a full season, but just a short tournament would have made this game better.
In the end, as you can see, I was not a huge fan of this game. If you want to scratch that retro NES baseball itch, you have a better chance of having fun with Bases Loaded than this offering.
What do you think? Am I off the mark? Let me know below.