What’s one of the first things that any hot new console on the market needs? Sports games! Given the worldwide popularity of baseball (at least in North American and Japan) it was a no-brainer that Nintendo would want to capitalize on the sport for the NES. While I’m not a huge fan of watching baseball (mainly because it often feels like watching paint dry) I’ve always taken a shine to baseball video games. There’s a palpable sense of excitement when a runner slides into home at the last moment, or when you slam a ball out of the park for a home run.
Since this was a launch title on the Famicom in 1983, and for the NES soon after in 1985 – you won’t find any system pushing graphics here. Just a simple top down representation of the play field, a slightly zoomed in shot of the infield and very basic animations for the players. Colors are basic but bright and show a nice level of detail. Everything is pretty easy to understand – hitting “A” swings the bat or bunts and throws the ball while “B” advances fielders to the next plate, steals the plate and so on. The only truly confusing part is picking from one of the one letter teams since Nintendo didn’t have a license to use official team names. Thankfully, you can deduce the team names from the letters.
A = Oakland Athletics
C = Saint Louis Cardinals
D = Los Angeles Dodgers
P = Philadelphia Phillies
R = Kansas City Royals
Y = New York Yankees
Like many of the early black box NES games, music consisted of short, but catchy jingles before and after the game, and simple sound effects. Gameplay in Baseball is mostly fun where it counts – allowing you to play a full 9 innings against increasing hard computer opponents – or a 2 player game with your sibling or friend. I have to say playing these early sports games is infinitely more fun with a human opponent, who is much more unpredictable than the CPU.
Would I recommend this game today? If you have time to kill with a buddy, sure. However there’s no season mode so the single player does feel a bit shallow after a while. And lastly, the camera simply is not dynamic enough. Nintendo’s Baseball and other baseball game released in 1983 couldn’t really compete with Mattel’s Intellivision World Series Baseball, which featured multiple camera angles, and actual speech when coupled with the Intellivoice module.
You can acquire Baseball on the Wii Virtual Console or find a copy of the game on Ebay. Purchasing a copy will help us keep this site alive and allow us to bring you more great content.