Company: SNK / Pallas
Plataform: NeoGeo systems
Controller: Default controller.
Early 90s, 16bit consoles are leading the way in both popularity and development of videogames. In Japan, the company SNK has been successful with arcade videogames that also can be used in a home console made by them.
SNK had some experience in baseball videogames, so it was not strange to see a videogame for this sport made by this company with a futuristic (at the time) vision of baseball. Even if the company was not involved 100% in the development, the influence is quite notorious.
Credit due to, even if the game has the basic rules for baseball, the game offers variants beyond the gimmick of a futuristic look, thinking in possible changes for the time. Let’s start with the umpire crew, which are robots instead of humans. Also playing slots are open to robots also.
Which is not too great an advantage, at least at first, because the robots do not perform better than an average human player, but when applying updates to the players, the robots can upgrade a lot better. Then they can hit harder, run faster and better judge a hit. Human players can also get bette with upgrades too. So, when the videogame was made, they thought that mechanism was gonna be the future and not necessary forbidden.
At any point during the game it’s possible to buy an upgrade, the catch is you have to get enough points to spend. The points can be achieved executing actions (hitting a hit, scoring with a homerun, strikeout a rival, and so on). But there are actions which can diminish your points (like receiveing a double play) so you have to consider both situations.
The players, either be human male, female or robots, can get tired during the game, so often you will use the most of the roster in a match. With the pitchers is more notorious. With the robot you have to keep an eye of them, because if they spend all of its energy (and at first they don’t have plenty), they can no longer keep playing.Los jugadores, sean humanos varones, mujeres o robots, se van cansando, por lo que es frecuente usar todo el roster en un partido.
The gameplay has some interesting features. Starting with a transparent roof which protects the spectators from getting hit by a either a foul or hit, but getting a homerun is a bit different, because know it has to be hit only thru the center field. In the rest of the outfield, the roof allows the ball to return to the field, so getting extrabases is fairly common still.
The same can be said for the foul zone, because it’s only back of the home plate, meaning that if you can send a ball between home and third (or first) base is still in the game. This can look strange, but in cricket is commonplace (there are no fouls there) and adds an interesting strategy to any match. Also, there are squares in the field with the word “Jump” I guess allow the fielders to jump towards the roof and pick up the ball before it returns to play.
The field shows a few lines at the field which measure distance, useful in american football fields. In my opinion it can be useful in real-life matches. It may not have a deep impact in plays, but could be eye-candy to rookie fans, or a transmission for any screen.
Another feature is that as the game advances, minefields are added to the field, so if a player touches it: kaboom. The player does not appear to be hurt, only stunned for a brief time, which can be important to allow a safe, or a run. I did not like at all this feature. All of the matches are in the same field, which I did not like either, but probably there was no more roms for different stadium data.
An interesting feature is how it’s ressolved the problem of playing this in arcade machines. There’s a timer which allow a videoplay to play an entire inning give or take. Once the timer runs out (it does not matter if it’s in the middle of a pitch, or in a play) a credit has to be added to continue the game. If the videogame is played in the home console, this does not happen.
At last, it’s possible to play a sort-a-kind tournament, and the videogame offers passwords to apply at the beginning of the videogame to continue a torunament from there. These password can be useful becasue updates are preserved along with the points earned during the matches.
The following teams are available for the videoplayer, every team with different colors and skills. This includes the number of female players (again, the influence of SNK is noted here) or robots. I have noted that the female players are better pitchers, but weak hitters. The teams are divided in two classes. If someone can explain me why in this universe there is a team from Italy, and not from Mexico or the Cariebbean nations, I’ll be grateful.
Exciting League (Class A)
Fighting League (Class B)
Of course, you can choose the team which fits better your style of play, but I humbly recommed using a team with Hitting as its main skill for rookie players. Tropical Girls or Korea Dragoon are interesting teams because it’s really hard to score a run against them, on the other side, it’s harder to score using them. Teams with Chance are weak and unpredictable, but they are awesome rivals when managed by the AI. The Hi-Tech are for videoplayers who like to build their teams from scratch.
Sega Genesis (Megadrive)
To 1993, the company Electronic Arts ported the videogame for this home console. The game is practically the same, but I found it slower and the sound of lower quality, strange thing for a Genesis videogame.
However, I’m grateful that the pace is slower. The action was too fast in the arcade for my tastes, and rookie players can be a bit overwhelmed. In this port they can adapt better to its gameplay.
Being a home console port, it does not have the time limit and this game felts more fluid. Even, as already mentioned, this happened when the original videogame was played in the home console version of NeoGeo.
Nintendo Super NES
This port was made by the company Tradewest, and I felt this version closer to the original than the Sega Genesis port, although still slower than the original.
Specially for a little detail: once a ball is hit, the infielders froze in their respective bases, so it falls in ahother player to pick up the ball being the short stop (sometimes the second base, an outfielder or even the pitcher to do so, even when the infielder is notably closer to the ball. In other baseball games this did not happen, and in this one, can be quite frustrating. The slower pace can be helpful to deal with this situation.
A difference found is the amount of points added or deducted according to the play, is different from the original version or from the Genesis port. The most notorious is stealing a base.
The videogame is interesting, but I have mixed feelings about it. It’s funny, I won’t deny it, and the developers really put an effort to give a sensation of a baseball evolution insteand of using the futuristic theme as a mere gimmick. The additions to the gameplay forces you to develop new and funny strategies. Actually, I was able to pull off a squezze play batting backwards without sending it to foul territory.
But at the same time, it can be problematic who are looking for a traditional baseball videogame. Particularly after researching a bit about cricket for future entries, I had not many issues to use the reduced foul zone to my advantage. Also, this was not the first videogame to add surrealistic feautres to a baseball match, and I was already used to them.
Videogame recommended to players who want to experiment with rules and situations not found in real-life baseball matches.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.