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)
12. Nintendo's Major League Baseball (1988)
Reggie Jackson's Baseball for Sega Master System (1988)
While the Nintendo gamers had three baseball games to play, the Sega Master fanboys only had 1 until Reggie Jackson's Baseball was released. You can make the argument that Reggie Jackson is a sequel to Great Baseball released in 1987 or a proof of concept for their Genesis game to be released in 1989. Gone is the behind the pitcher view; In is the behind the catcher view. Reggie Jackson was an extremely popular baseball player in the 70's and early 80's. Maybe not intently but Reggie Jackson retired from the sport in 1987, a year before this game was released. This fact makes this game the first video game console game to be named after a MLB player as well as a retired MLB player. Reggie was a power hitter for many teams; does this game have the power to earn itself a home run?
This game is a step up from Great Baseball released just a year prior for the Sega system. While Great Baseball had animations on the jumbotron, this game improves on the concept. I don't want to be viewed as a caveman but when I play a baseball game, I could use a little less pink in my game. The color of salmon is spotted all over this game; the pennants, the icons for the Ball/Strikes/Out, the title screen as well as the team uniforms. I will assume Reggie Jackson demanded the color thus not darn to question his judgment. This game is a good example that the Sega Master System might have better graphics capabilities of the NES but just lost the race for market share.
I can't ignore a weird innovation this game provides the player and that is when you start a game of baseball, the color of the field is randomly selected. The color of the grass you end up playing on is red, green or yellow. If you were wondering why this concept never became a staple feature in future baseball games, press the reset button until you get the red field and have fun. If you can look beyond the color of the field, this game includes nice additions to baseball video games that exists in real life such as base coaches, batter in the on deck circle, relief pitcher warming up near the dugout, relief pitcher golf cart, warning track along the outfield wall and of course cheerleaders... Yes this game has cheerleaders, this game is that innovated. Also I have to point out that during the pitch the field and dirt around the batter's box contains some textures and has a 'used' look which I found refreshing.
|Red Grass||Green Grass||Yellow Grass|
I have decided to add a new subcategory which details the scoreboard. We are now at a point along the baseball video game history timeline where the scoreboard is the center of information regarding the game. As with the Great Baseball prior, this game included cartoony animations on the scoreboard for entertainment value as if you were watching a real baseball game. The scoreboard includes the lineup of teams, the Balls/Strikes/Outs, BSO, as well as the run summary of every inning including a game summary of total runs, hits and home runs as well as a running game time. It shows the current batter's average and home run count.
As many innovations this game provided regarding the field, It doesn't provide the same level of innovation regarding the players. The batter is nicely rendered and we can see the pinstripes down the pants as well as the pitcher animation of waving off the catchers signs. Once the ball is hit the players are less detailed. The color schema of the uniforms between the defense and offensive makes it hard to tell which is which during infield plays. One of the player innovations is the each team includes a profile picture of the manager. The image of the managers resembles the actual team managers during the 1987 MLB season.
Always appears to be the weakest section of the blog, I am happy to report that we can see a slight improvement regarding the crowd with Reggie Jackson's take on baseball video games; Thank you Reggie, Thank you. The crowd includes various shaped individuals. Well only their neck and face but at least it is a step in the right direction. They even have hands that appear to clap and they move their face side to side. The crowd is just a duplicated pattern to fill all the seats
Home Run Celebration
Good thing the game's home run celebration is fun because It happens a lot. Once the ball disappears, a popup widows shows up and nice big words "Home Run" in a typical wireframe 80's 3D effect. Like Bases Loaded before it, every home run includes a nice cartoon animation. Unlike Bases Loaded it occurs when the runner touches home plate instead of when rounding second base. I am not familiar with Reggie Jackson's playing days but the runner looks more like David Ortiz then Reggie Jackson. As he approaches home plate, he stops and then proceeds to jump and stomp on home plate as he flexes his muscles. Nice touch when you are the one who hit the home run, annoying if you are the pitcher.
Instead of using the scoreboard to manage the pitch hitting and change of pitchers, a separate popup window appears listing the various players that can be selected. The batting is done by the behind the batter viewpoint and it appears as well the behind the pitcher view of Bases Loaded is quickly becoming an oddity and not the standard or expected viewpoint that gamers want. One aspect regarding the camera that spices the genre up is when the ball is in the air, the ball grows in size as if the ball was approaching the actual camera above the field. The side effect to that is the shadow of the ball is positioned to the side as if simulating a real light source. My problem for the shadow is I have grown up with the 'Nintendo Shadow Rule' where an object's shadow in a video game does not exist to show lighting effects but to help the player understand where the object is located within the space of the game. The shadow in this game is distracting and is hard to gauge where it might land.
Not much to the sound of the game. The background music is only 3-5 notes and repeats itself. The umpire has a nice voice to it and even says words like "Strike Out” We can hear the umpire in video games are increasing being more vocal and an increase their vocab.
Gameplay - Modes
- Exhibition Game - 1 or 2 player. Each game you have the option for auto-fielding or manual.
- Tournament - compete in a pennant race
- Watch mode - Watch the CPU play the game of baseball. During the off season this is a good way to watch your favorite team compete?
- Home Run Contest - 20 pitches down the line.
FYI I am looking forward to seeing which game is the first to have a career mode. Bases Loaded is the closest with having an 80 game season. If I had my choice I would ask the developers to get rid of Watch mode and put that freed up space towards career mode.
Gameplay - Defense
The addition of the warning track near the outfield wall is not just a graphical improvement but also a gameplay element. The ball when it rolls or hits the warning track slows down and behaves differently than the outfield grass. Speaking of fielding, this game lets you manually control the outfield or have the CPU control the positioning. You still have control of the fielder once he collects the ball and you can run with the ball or throw it a base by pressing a direction on the dpad and pressing B. I noticed the field is really big, there where hits that landed in the grass and nothing was in the screen with me besides the ball. The pitching ability is par for the course for the late 80's video game. You have control of the ball as it floats towards home plate. A defensive baseball concept makes it's appearance in this game and that is the ability to have a fielder jump to try to grab the ball in the air.
Gameplay - Offense
I mentioned previously but It appears as though Home Runs are very easy to make, thus making this an offensive focus game. I am not surprised given Reggie Jackson wasn't known for his defense plays. The batter in the game cannot move up and down in the box only left and right, which is opposite of the last game in the series. Like NES's Major League Baseball before, I didn't find this gameplay limitation effect my ability to hit the ball where I want it. I felt I was able to pull the ball etc... Base running was just as easy to execute as hitting the ball. After a few tries I was able to steal bases with ease.
Rules of Baseball
I was unable to edit my lineup and roster so I feel we have gone backwards regards to becoming a team manager. The game is a solid baseball game. It does a nice job of highlighting big plays by zooming in at home for example. This provides that sense of thrill during baseball games that is mostly missing from the video game versions of the sport. Another thrill of a baseball game is what happens when a batter is hit by the pitch; not only does the batter kneel down in pain but the camera it switched to the bird's eye view and both dugouts empty as the game medics carry the batter off the field. It's pretty nuts, oh Reggie.
Video Game Innovations
- Base Coach visible
- Relief Pitcher/Catcher warming up on the side
- Cheerleaders and Mascot
- Different color grass
- Warning Track
- Crowd with hands that clap
- Animations for close plays
- Dugout empty brawl
- Fielder can make a jumping catch