History of Baseball Video Games #15 - Nintendo's Tecmo Baseball

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

Previous entries

  1. Videocart 12 - Baseball (1977)
  2. Astrocade's Tornado Baseball (1977)
  3. Atari 2600's Home Run (1978)
  4. Intellivision's Major League Baseball (1980)
  5. Microvision's Baseball (1980)
  6. Atari 2600's RealSports Baseball (1982)
  7. Nintendo's Baseball (1983)
  8. Intellivision's World Championship Baseball (1983)

9. Sega Master System's Great Baseball (1987)

10. Nintendo's Bases Loaded (1987)

11. Nintendo's R.B.I Baseball (1988)

12. Nintendo's Major League Baseball (1988)

13. Sega Master System's Reggie Jackson Baseball (1988)

14. TurboGrafx 16's World Class Baseball (1989)

Tecmo Baseball Box Art

After the introduction of a 16-bit baseball game in the previous blog, there is still a lot of 8-bit games still being developed and released. 1989 through 1992 were transitional years for the industry where developers produced games for old systems with established installed base andwell as produce games for the sexy, state of the art platforms such as the TurboGrafx-16. Tecmo Baseball was released only on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. Tecmo was a popular sports video game development house, most famous for the Tecmo Bowl football game. Is there a reason why Tecmo Baseball isn’t on the same level? Let’s find out.

Graphics

I will be honest, maybe it is because I have been playing a lot of NES baseball games as of late, but this game comes across as very generic. It almost appears as though the development team took what they thought was great about the previous released baseball games and put them into this game. There are elements of Bases Loaded, Baseball and RBI Baseball. Overall the graphics and presentation is not really bad just felt as though I have seen and played this game before.

Field

We are back in the 8-bit world so we lose textures and forced to play on solid green fields. Once again we have a baseball game where the infield dirt is only around the bases and not part of the base paths. There is no first base running path line and the bases and home plate are displayed correctly. The pitcher’s mound doesn’t appear to have height to it. Tecmo is great at inserting their own name into their games. One such way was including their name on the green grass directly behind home plate for the field camera as well as on the back stop wall for the behind the pitcher view. No matter which camera is showing the game, the words ‘Tecmo’ is there to help remind you what game you are playing.

Players

During the behind the pitcher view the players look really stiff, the players are lean and not chubby like R.B.I Baseball and looks like a slightly enhanced version of Bases Loaded. The batter and pitcher have eyes on their faces as well as stirrups but their feet are huge; I am talking clown shoe size. Because of the behind the pitcher view the pitcher is larger and closer to the camera and thus more detail has been applied to them. There is actually some shadowing effects going on with the pitcher’s uniform. There also lacks numbers on the uniforms which adds to the feeling of generic fielders and base runners.

Scoreboard

Did I mention the word ‘generic’ in the blog yet. If not then let me reserve that word to describe the scoreboard. I don’t really understand this scoreboard; there is a huge green jumbotron that appears to a waste of space majority of the time. In-between the innings the jumbotron shows random sayings and sentences that doesn’t seem to be based on anything. Examples of things that might appear in the center of the jumbotron is ‘Big Hit’, ‘Tecmo is number 1’, ‘Fight’. Besides the green jumbotron the scoreboard did include the scoring summary per inning. It lacked stats such as hit count, errors as well as the lineup.

Fans

I am not even going to detail the crowd in this game. They literally took the 1983 baseball game and copied the pattern. It’s ugly.

Home Run Celebration

Now here is where I can see the influence of Bases Loaded in the game. This game took the home run animation of Bases Loaded and applied minor, very minor changes to it. In Bases loaded the batter is displayed on the scoreboard’s jumbotron rounding 2 base in the background as the pitcher is kneeling down in disgust. This game the camera is reversed and the batter is in the foreground with the pitcher behind him. When the batter approaches the dugout he high fives his teammates the same way Bases Loaded animated it.

Tecmo BaseballBases Loaded

Camera/Screens

The screen during the pitching was influenced by R.B.I baseball; 1 base and 3 base camera is always displayed and takes up 1/3 of the screen each. The main camera is behind the pitcher unlike RBI’s behind the batter view. This setup was weird for me because while there was a camera on 1 and 3, if there was a runner on second you can just see the back of their uniform poking out from the bottom of the screen. You couldn’t see 2 base and hard to gauge how far off the base they are standing to pick them off. The fielding camera did contain an overhead view of the diamond and I felt like I would like to see that during the pitching. The main camera did display the pitcher and batter’s name and stats such as ERA, home run and RBI count as well as batting average.

Menu

There is no editing of the lineup and roster in the game so the use of menu is less important. During pitch hitting and calling for a relief pitcher, the screen switches to a solid black background and white text. Not ugly but not the most colorful or exciting.

Sounds

The melody of the background music is catchy and enjoyable, Tecmo games usually contain catchy music and this one is up to their standard. The umpires only says the basic words of ‘strike’, ‘out’, and ‘safe’

Gameplay

Modes

  • 1 player mode – pick a team and complete the tecmo series
  • 2 player mode
  • 1 player All-Star – play as a team with great stats
  • 2 player All-Star
  • Watch mode

Defense

This game does some innovating regarding fielding in which if you press the A+B buttons together the fielder jumps and dives. It is enjoyable to watch and perform, like in real life though if you miss the ball the runner has enough time to advance to the next base. The fielding doesn’t feel slow like previous games but because the outfield is so huge I feel like the fielders have to travel a great deal to collect the ball. I can move the pitcher left and right and feel the strike zone is fairly large and was able to strike many batters out.

Offense

The batting is standard for the course for Nintendo games. Because the behind the pitcher view, the batter was unable to move up and down within the batter’s box only left or right. To control the base runners a simple tab of the base the runner is on was all it took. I didn’t find myself confused with the controls. A lot can be said about maintaining a standard gameplay mechanic in video games.

Rules of Baseball

One aspect of MLB that I haven’t really seen in video games is the MLB’s American League’s DH rule. Before you start each game you have the option to use or don’t use the DH rule in the game. One rule that I continually see absent from these video games is the infield fly rule. I am able to use that to my advantage when the bases are loaded to quickly get out of the inning. I feel like I am cheating but I justify it by knowing that when playing against the CPU we all know the CPU always cheats.

It doesn't appear as though this game contains real MLB teams or players but the stats might be real based on the 1987-1988 season.

Video Game Innovations

  • DH rule
  • Fielders diving and jumping for the baseball
4 Comments
5 Comments
Posted by jbn566

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

Previous entries

  1. Videocart 12 - Baseball (1977)
  2. Astrocade's Tornado Baseball (1977)
  3. Atari 2600's Home Run (1978)
  4. Intellivision's Major League Baseball (1980)
  5. Microvision's Baseball (1980)
  6. Atari 2600's RealSports Baseball (1982)
  7. Nintendo's Baseball (1983)
  8. Intellivision's World Championship Baseball (1983)

9. Sega Master System's Great Baseball (1987)

10. Nintendo's Bases Loaded (1987)

11. Nintendo's R.B.I Baseball (1988)

12. Nintendo's Major League Baseball (1988)

13. Sega Master System's Reggie Jackson Baseball (1988)

14. TurboGrafx 16's World Class Baseball (1989)

Tecmo Baseball Box Art

After the introduction of a 16-bit baseball game in the previous blog, there is still a lot of 8-bit games still being developed and released. 1989 through 1992 were transitional years for the industry where developers produced games for old systems with established installed base andwell as produce games for the sexy, state of the art platforms such as the TurboGrafx-16. Tecmo Baseball was released only on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. Tecmo was a popular sports video game development house, most famous for the Tecmo Bowl football game. Is there a reason why Tecmo Baseball isn’t on the same level? Let’s find out.

Graphics

I will be honest, maybe it is because I have been playing a lot of NES baseball games as of late, but this game comes across as very generic. It almost appears as though the development team took what they thought was great about the previous released baseball games and put them into this game. There are elements of Bases Loaded, Baseball and RBI Baseball. Overall the graphics and presentation is not really bad just felt as though I have seen and played this game before.

Field

We are back in the 8-bit world so we lose textures and forced to play on solid green fields. Once again we have a baseball game where the infield dirt is only around the bases and not part of the base paths. There is no first base running path line and the bases and home plate are displayed correctly. The pitcher’s mound doesn’t appear to have height to it. Tecmo is great at inserting their own name into their games. One such way was including their name on the green grass directly behind home plate for the field camera as well as on the back stop wall for the behind the pitcher view. No matter which camera is showing the game, the words ‘Tecmo’ is there to help remind you what game you are playing.

Players

During the behind the pitcher view the players look really stiff, the players are lean and not chubby like R.B.I Baseball and looks like a slightly enhanced version of Bases Loaded. The batter and pitcher have eyes on their faces as well as stirrups but their feet are huge; I am talking clown shoe size. Because of the behind the pitcher view the pitcher is larger and closer to the camera and thus more detail has been applied to them. There is actually some shadowing effects going on with the pitcher’s uniform. There also lacks numbers on the uniforms which adds to the feeling of generic fielders and base runners.

Scoreboard

Did I mention the word ‘generic’ in the blog yet. If not then let me reserve that word to describe the scoreboard. I don’t really understand this scoreboard; there is a huge green jumbotron that appears to a waste of space majority of the time. In-between the innings the jumbotron shows random sayings and sentences that doesn’t seem to be based on anything. Examples of things that might appear in the center of the jumbotron is ‘Big Hit’, ‘Tecmo is number 1’, ‘Fight’. Besides the green jumbotron the scoreboard did include the scoring summary per inning. It lacked stats such as hit count, errors as well as the lineup.

Fans

I am not even going to detail the crowd in this game. They literally took the 1983 baseball game and copied the pattern. It’s ugly.

Home Run Celebration

Now here is where I can see the influence of Bases Loaded in the game. This game took the home run animation of Bases Loaded and applied minor, very minor changes to it. In Bases loaded the batter is displayed on the scoreboard’s jumbotron rounding 2 base in the background as the pitcher is kneeling down in disgust. This game the camera is reversed and the batter is in the foreground with the pitcher behind him. When the batter approaches the dugout he high fives his teammates the same way Bases Loaded animated it.

Tecmo BaseballBases Loaded

Camera/Screens

The screen during the pitching was influenced by R.B.I baseball; 1 base and 3 base camera is always displayed and takes up 1/3 of the screen each. The main camera is behind the pitcher unlike RBI’s behind the batter view. This setup was weird for me because while there was a camera on 1 and 3, if there was a runner on second you can just see the back of their uniform poking out from the bottom of the screen. You couldn’t see 2 base and hard to gauge how far off the base they are standing to pick them off. The fielding camera did contain an overhead view of the diamond and I felt like I would like to see that during the pitching. The main camera did display the pitcher and batter’s name and stats such as ERA, home run and RBI count as well as batting average.

Menu

There is no editing of the lineup and roster in the game so the use of menu is less important. During pitch hitting and calling for a relief pitcher, the screen switches to a solid black background and white text. Not ugly but not the most colorful or exciting.

Sounds

The melody of the background music is catchy and enjoyable, Tecmo games usually contain catchy music and this one is up to their standard. The umpires only says the basic words of ‘strike’, ‘out’, and ‘safe’

Gameplay

Modes

  • 1 player mode – pick a team and complete the tecmo series
  • 2 player mode
  • 1 player All-Star – play as a team with great stats
  • 2 player All-Star
  • Watch mode

Defense

This game does some innovating regarding fielding in which if you press the A+B buttons together the fielder jumps and dives. It is enjoyable to watch and perform, like in real life though if you miss the ball the runner has enough time to advance to the next base. The fielding doesn’t feel slow like previous games but because the outfield is so huge I feel like the fielders have to travel a great deal to collect the ball. I can move the pitcher left and right and feel the strike zone is fairly large and was able to strike many batters out.

Offense

The batting is standard for the course for Nintendo games. Because the behind the pitcher view, the batter was unable to move up and down within the batter’s box only left or right. To control the base runners a simple tab of the base the runner is on was all it took. I didn’t find myself confused with the controls. A lot can be said about maintaining a standard gameplay mechanic in video games.

Rules of Baseball

One aspect of MLB that I haven’t really seen in video games is the MLB’s American League’s DH rule. Before you start each game you have the option to use or don’t use the DH rule in the game. One rule that I continually see absent from these video games is the infield fly rule. I am able to use that to my advantage when the bases are loaded to quickly get out of the inning. I feel like I am cheating but I justify it by knowing that when playing against the CPU we all know the CPU always cheats.

It doesn't appear as though this game contains real MLB teams or players but the stats might be real based on the 1987-1988 season.

Video Game Innovations

  • DH rule
  • Fielders diving and jumping for the baseball
Posted by Claude

I didn't play Tecmo Baseball. But I did play Tecmo Super Baseball on the SNES. When the ball was hit, the camera switched to the defense in 3D. It was a pretty cool game, but became too predictable with hitting and fielding. The style reminded me of NCAA Basketball for the SNES. 
 
  

Posted by heatDrive88

RBI Baseball in 11th place and no mention of Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball for the NES? Three words, good sir.

Go fuck yourself.

Posted by jbn566

hi heatDrive88, Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post. Maybe I don't get your humor, I assume that 'Go fuck yourself' is a funny saying in your circle of friends and not sure how I can come back from that. I think you are mistaking the point of my blog posts. My history of baseball video games blogs is a series of blogs based on the baseball video games that I actually own and I am playing them in order of release. The number 11 assigned to RBI Baseball is not a rank, it is not in 11th place but more like the 11th baseball game released. If you are still confused please send me a message with less humor that I simply do not understand.

Posted by jbn566

@Claude: Thanks for that post. That really is a unique camera angle in the SNES game, Mode 7 anyone? I don't believe I have that game so I doubt I will be able to include it in this series. I might end up finding it by the time I get to that era of games though. One aspect of these games that I am looking forward to is when developers start putting a cursor on the fielders and or an estimate on where the ball might land. I think that innovation really helped the fielding in these games.