Baseball (Famicom/NES, 1983) – #0008

 

 

BASEBALL

 

PUBLISHED/DEVELOPED: Nintendo

RELEASE DATE: 12/07/1983 (Famicom – JP), 10/18/1985 (NES – US), 09/01/1986 (NES – EU)

ALSO ON: Famicom Disk System (02/21/1986 – JP), Game Boy (04/21/1989 – JP , 07/31/89 – US, 1990 – EU), e-Reader (2002 – WW)

Wii Virtual Console (12/02/2006 – JP, 12/29/06 – EU, 01/01/07 – US), Wii U Virtual Console (10/23/2013 – JP, 10/24/13 – US, EU, AU), 3DS Virtual Console (06/07/2011 – JP, 07/14/11 – US, 07/28/11  – EU, AU)

FEATURED IN: Animal Crossing (Gamecube, 12/14/2001 – JP, 09/16/2002 – US)

 

I’ve been playing Baseball for nearly 30 years now. Not because it’s a good baseball game. Not because I particularly enjoy playing it. No, I keep playing Baseball because I never know what’s going to happen.

 

Now, to be fair, one could say that most sports games are as unpredictable as Baseball. But Baseball isn’t just any sports game. In this – the very first sports title ever released for the Famicom – the player only has, at best, 75% control of your team at any given time.

 

I predict a third out.

 

Example: even if you smash the Run button repeatedly as hard as you can, your outfielders will still not run any faster than they have to. An incoming ball is not their immediate concern unless it lands directly on top of them. Another example that ties to the last example: a pop fly that should land directly in your player’s outstretched mitt lands directly next to him for seemingly no reason. Both of these examples happen frequently. Even after years of playing, I’m still not sure why. Shoddy programming? Glitches? Perhaps Baseball just likes to toy with its players? Who can say.

 

Good grief, everyone.

 

Baseball is more than a game. It’s a revelation, an experience, a journey into the unknown. Just when you think you’ve cracked its code, the game throws you a screwball – literally and figuratively – and you pound the ground with your NES controller. Then you come back for another round, because… what else can you do? Baseball is a seemingly simple 8-bit sports title, yet it always seems to have one up on its players. Truly, a king among the Famicom launch lineup.

 

1983: B+

Today: B-

The Future: A+

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Third Star

Baseball is endlessly fascinating and endearing because of the “glitches,” which are beyond understanding. Essentially, Baseball cheats. You may find yourself ahead 7-1 in the 8th inning, but you’ll still lose. After dozens upon dozens of plays, I’ve only won a handful of times, often as the last “out” was a glitch in itself, usually through a strikeout. it’s a game that is still fulfilling however – and will make you laugh. Even my owning this game, back in ’87? ’88? is a mystery, a glitch. One day, it just showed up, despite my brother and I not asking for it for a birthday, Christmas or whatever. It just arrived. Of course I still have it, mint and perfect. Baseball is eternal, as it is a mystery of the universe; we are not capable of truly understanding WHAT is actually going on in there. It has a mind of its own. It can’t be reasoned with. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be trusted.

You’ll still lose, but come back for more. Over and over.

Got 20 minutes or so to spare? There’s far worse games to waste time on. Baseball, win or lose, always is enjoyable; one may even say it is the best baseball game on the NES, or any system, for that matter. Why? Because it’s simple, cute and fun.

Fun.

That’s what games are for.