This is a series of blogs based on my own personal game collection. I will attempt to go through them in a chronological order according to their release date. I will also attempt to play then on their original platform using the original controllers the game was designed for. If I am unable to get the system or the game working then I will use PC emulation or another platform emulation like the Intellivision Lives! game for the gamecube
9. Sega Master System's Great Baseball (1987)
10. Nintendo's Bases Loaded (1987)
11. Nintendo's R.B.I Baseball (1988)
Major League Baseball for Nintendo Entertainment System (1988)
Video game players who had a Nintendo Entertainment System were lucky enough to have three baseball games released back to back to back in 1987-1988. The first was Bases Loaded, which didn't contain any MLB teams nor MLB players’ names or stats. The second was the ever popular R.B.I Baseball game that included MLB player names and stats but no MLB teams. Last but not least is Major League Baseball, as the name implies, officially licensed by the MLB. This is the first game to include actual MLB teams and players stats. MLB player's name is trademarked by MLBPA and as a result the player's names are not included and every player is referenced by only their number. Does the lack of the players name hurt the gameplay? Next up to the plate is #12.
If you quickly glance at the screenshot you might think it was RBI Baseball. The two games look really similar; the impact of RBI Baseball is starting to shape up. The pitcher/batter duel contains a lot of popup overlays like a windows application. The inning count is in a separate box, the score in another. One info box that always appears is the speed of the pitch but the speed disappears as soon as you select your next pitch. In general the text is always readable; it always is on all NES games that use the default font. One of the aspects of the graphics that simply gets the job done is the menu system. In this game you have complete control of the lineup and the menu system for this feature is ugly and only contains text on a solid blue background.
We are still in the era of video games where things look cartoony. I say that as a positive thing; The platforms in the 80's just can't display textures and as such the graphics such as a baseball playing field use solid colors. The dirt is a solid brown and the grass is a solid green. The field has a nice sense of depth, the outfield wall has height and the ball bounces of it fairly correctly, the foul lines are tall and extend past the outfield wall. The scoreboard compared to the other games released the same year is really dull and don't include much of anything besides the score.
The rendering of the players are very much like RBI Baseball game. The batters have helmets and the batting stances vary like Bases Loaded. The uniforms have accurate colors schemes according to the MLB teams' official colors. The first and third base cameras are not as zoomed in as the batter and so the detail of the base runners are reduced. The back of the catcher is also displayed and the lines of the catcher’s mask are correctly displayed as well as the straps of his pads.
Another baseball game, another game where the fans are displayed as ugly wallpaper. If you have been following these blogs you might remember how happy I was to see crowds in the game, Now that I have seen crowds I am getting tired of lack of innovation. Below screenshots may help prove my complaint; Can anyone honestly say the crowds in Major League Baseball are years better then Nintendo's first Baseball game?
|NES Baseball (1983)||Sega Great Baseball (1987)||NES RBI Baseball (1988)||NES Major League Baseball (1988)|
Home Run Celebrations
This has to be the most boring celebration on the NES so far. The camera doesn't move from where the ball landed in the stands. The crowd roars and the word 'Home Run' appears in the center of the screen as the score is also popped up as each base runner touches home plate. If you manage to hit the home run near the scoreboard you can notice the scoreboard displays just 4 large baseballs evenly spaced.
The camera displays the field at a very nice angle that provides the user with a great sense of depth. As typical with baseball games of this era fielding is difficult because the camera focuses on the ball and not the fielder so a lot of times you have to guess where the fielder is related to the ball because the fielder is out of view. One of the biggest issues I have with the game is the fact that for some reason, this game has a load screen when it has to change cameras and screens. The load screen gets in the way of the game play and delays what is already a slow sport. It is really noticeable when you hit the ball and have to wait to see the direction of where you hit it.
I also can't leave without mentioning the ugly menu system when controlling the lineup and manager choices. The entire screen from top to bottom, left to right is white text on a blue background. Being a windows user, I usually refer to this as the blue screen of death. I greatly appreciated the ability to manage my own line up. It truly is a great innovation in terms of baseball video games but I am really looking forward to a developer taking this to the next level and making the menu system easier to use and easier on the eye and less like I am reviewing a spreadsheet for a school project.
There is no background music besides the radio static noise that I guess is supposed to be the sound of the crowd. The game does include some classic ballpark jingles and chants such as the 'Charge'. Besides that, nothing really special.
Gameplay - Modes
We have three modes for 1 player and a single 2 player mode
- Regular Game - single nine inning baseball game. you are able to select the team
- All - Star Game - single nine inning game but able to build your line up from all teams
- World Series - Best of 7 nine inning games.
Gameplay - Defense
I do have to say the game physics take a while to accept and learn. One aspect of the physics that seem different from the 11 other baseball games I have played this month is that the ball doesn't roll as one would expect it to. After 1 or 2 bounces in the grass it simply stops as if the outfield turned into green glue paper. I wouldn't bash the developers for having inaccurate physics; it is just different and takes a little learning curve to fielding and running around to collect the ball. Another aspect of the defense that seems odd is I couldn't figure out how to tag a base to get the force out. It seemed the game didn't let me pick up the ball and run to the base ahead of the runner; either I had to tag the actual runner or throw it the base. This affected me more the green glue outfield because I had to change the way I normally play the game during various situations. For example If there was a runner on third and my opponent hits a line drive to first base, I would have the first baseman pick up the ball and move to the base for the force out. But here if the first baseman collects the ball there is nobody to on the base to throw to so I have to run down and tag the runner myself which is just enough time for the runner on third to score. Maybe I totally missed something in the instructions but I tried everything. The pitcher can't move on the mound and the throw animations are at times not smooth, sometimes the ball changes speeds in mid-air
Gameplay - Offense
The batting isn't bad, the inability to move the batter left and right and only up and down is a little different than previous games but I didn't feel I missed that freedom. To perform a bunt just a tap of the A button, to swing for the fence hold down the A button. This tapping vs holding down the button is start of maybe some analog control of the swing and a step in the right direction. Performing a pitchhitter change is nice and easy, the game provides enough stats to make you feel like you can a sound decision like a baseball manager would.
Rules of Baseball
Ability to manage your lineup is all I need to hear to know that this game adheres to standard rules of baseball. This is the first baseball game that gives the power of forming a lineup in the player's hand. When you select your lineup, you cycle through general positions such as infield,outfield,catcher and pitcher. The game forces you to have the correct number of infields and outfielders but doesn't list the actual position such as first baseman, shortstop, left field...etc
The physics in the game does hurt when dealing with how baseball is played; Baseballs are round and suppose to roll in the outfield. Because this game is licensed by MLB, it does a touch of respect in terms of how baseball is played.
The stats included for each batter are AVG,HR,RBI,as well as left/right handed.
Video Game Innovations
- MLB team names
- MLB player stats
- Ballpark jingles