#59 – Baseball

                                      

                                                                            Vintage black NES covers are the best.

 

 

                  When you get a home run, the crowd turns into little blinking Christmas lights. Ah, technology.

 

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous

PUBLISHER: Nintendo

DEVELOPER: Nintendo

GENRE: Sports

RELEASE DATE: October 1985

 

I grew up playing Baseball. It’s a simple, often boring game, but like any game one grows up with, nostalgic memories are forever attached to it. Something that fascinates me about Baseball, though, is how little its actual gaming value has changed. Even when I was a kid, I knew it wasn’t that good of a game. The computer cheated like mad; the in-fielders seemed to only catch hits when they felt like it; and the outfielders appeared to be running through sludge. Years later, I still know it’s not that good of a game, but the aforementioned flaws, along with other random quirks, strangely give the game character.

 

Because this is one of the first NES sports games, you’re not going to get your baseball sim fix here. The game is a strict nine-inning affair, where your sole purpose is to hit the ball and run, or pitch the ball and catch. The most complex choice you’ll make is deciding which team you’ll pick, A, C, D, P, R, or Y. I can’t make this stuff up: the team names are really a bunch of letters. As far as I could tell, it really doesn’t matter which team you pick, so regardless of whether you’re P or Y, the computer will cheat just as much.

 

What makes this game unique/fun/incredibly annoying are the quirks one notices after a few games. There’s been times I’ve pitched a ball, the batter barely hits it causing the ball to crawl along, and my in-fielders hobble and wubstep to the ball, but the batter’s already at first. Were this any other baseball game, my players would have been competent, gotten the ball quickly, and thrown it to first. This is not uncommon, but it’s also not uncommon for your players to wake up out of their slumber and perform some massive double-plays. Perhaps that’s why I don’t ever bear any massive grudge against the game: Baseball gives as much as it takes. The taking often feels cheap and annoying, true, but the giving is so generous that all is quickly forgiven.

 

Or perhaps I’m reading too much into this simply designed, simply programmed game. I highly doubt that Nintendo put much thought into the AI behind this game (was the term “AI” even around in 1984?), so it’s possible that the “quirks” I see are really design flaws. Whatever the case, I still enjoy Baseball for what it is: a relaxing, incompetent time waster.

 

Nostalgia rating – A- 
Actual rating – B-

 

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  • Recently sat down and finally played a game of NES Baseball. I actually really enjoyed myself and managed to fight the computer’s unfairness to grab a win. A flawed game for sure, but in a charming way. I will be back for more.

  • steve

    My brother and I always thought the crowd appeared to be vomiting en masse after hitting a home run. I guess your “blinking Christmas lights” interpretation is a little more charitable and less disgusting.

  • One magical time, I somehow managed to get one of my players to run straight across the diamond from first to third, right in front of the mound and skipping second altogether. He was called out (as I imagine you would be) but I have tried to like mad to duplicate the glitch.

    On another note, a childhood friend who I played this with used to always pick team D, firmly maintaining that it was the fastest one. I don’t think there’s a lick of difference between the teams aside from colour.