R.I.P. Walter Matthau
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: June 1990
Let me get something out of the way: this game is not related to the movie “Bad News Bears” despite the similarity in name. A Walter Matthau sprite is, sadly, nowhere to be found. BUT HOW DOES IT PLAY YOU ASK? Well, I can’t play this game for beans, but I admire it like no other NES baseball game so far. Perhaps what impresses me most about Bad News Baseball is how complete it feels. Tecmo includes so many options that you really get your money’s worth. Obviously, there is the traditional 1P and 2P games, but there’s also an ALLSTAR mode (Smash Bros. eat your heart out – Tecmo was first) that’s way harder than the actual game. Seriously, if you’re not a Bad News Master, leave that mode alone. Lastly, there’s also a Spectator Mode where you can watch the computer play itself. Not the best of modes, I suppose, but it was definitely unique for the time. The technical elements of this game are superb, especially the graphics. From the opening scene, where the camera scrolls up to the top of the stadium lights, to the animations of each player as they run or when they get a homerun, the graphics truly make this game as endearing as it is; the rabbit umpires help as well, though they bear an eerie resemblance to the bunnies from Silent Hill 3.
While the game is easy to pick up and play (and fail, in my case), you really need to know how to “set” your players before you start the game if you hope to win. Believe it or not, like real baseball, every player is different. Since the computer is always going to pick the best options, it would behoove you to learn what the statistics of each player actually mean. This is something that I didn’t do. I figured out some of the easier stuff, but the more complex stats I couldn’t interpret. This game is fun enough though, that I wouldn’t mind learning. I’m pretty sure you need the manual or have a decent knowledge of baseball in order to do this, but GameFAQS should have some players guides if you decide to give Bad News Baseball a whirl.
While I do enjoy Bad News Baseball, I wish the computer was a little less amazing. It hit everything I threw at it – everything! It doesn’t always hit it well, but it would be nice to land a strike every now and again. It’s also a little challenging to maneuver one’s outfield players when the computer hits a ball out there, but it doesn’t take away from the overall fun of the game. If you can get around the fancy pants computer and its cheating ways (maybe get some 2P action going), this is a fantastic baseball game and one I look forward to playing again.