Platform: Commodore 64
Controller: Keyboard or Joystick.
As already mentioned, during the 80s the conosles were the most known platform for videogaming, but the personal computers were also an important market, being one of the most popular in America, the Commodore 64. For this market, it was mandatory offering among the videogames featuring sports, at least one of baseball. The company Accolade were more than willing to provide for this personal computer a videogame about this sport.
Bob Whitehead, veteran in the are of designing videogames, choose for focusing on the player ability to interact with the computer, trying to differentiate from other baseball videogames for that platform. Knowing than a lot of personal computer owners did not have a joystick to use in the computer, the game was designed to use the keyboard with ease.
Actually only four keys and the space bar are used, mimicking the four directions and button of a joystick. In the screen appears a section indicating the corresponding action to the key (or joystick’s direction). The four actions indicates the base to which throw when fielding, base to advance when running, or where to swing. But pitching?
Well, here comes a brilliant touch. Every key indicates a kind of pitch, then where to pitch, which also are four (well, five, taking the center when no one is selected). You can think that five directions are not enough, but consider that a curveball to left or right ends in the center, or that a slider to the right ends at the left-bottom. This way the nine sections of the strike zone are covered. Also the pitchers do not have the same variety of pitches, this gives a lot of variety to a match.
The game only have two teams: All-Star (red) versus Champions (blue). It’s possible to select any of them. Aside from the All-Star being a bit more powerful hitting, and the Champions having slightly better pitchers, there are no significant differences. It’s possible to choose from using Designated Hitter or not. The game allows to make sustitutions, because there is a bench, or even changing fielding positions where there is no restriction at all.
This means you can use any player in any position, like a shortstop as a catcher. Of course, this can have consequences, because an error is more likely to happen. You’re probably asking if there is possible to use an outfielder as pitcher, the answer is yes. Also, in this situation the “pitcher” do not have a particular pitch, only gets the ball into home, not matter which key used to pitch.
In matches between two human videogamers, the best way is to play it with two joysticks, this way even when the guide to which direction throws which pitch, there is no easy way to see which one was used. Otherwise, it’s easy to see which pitch is used and it’s not exactly fair play.
The game was ported to the following platforms:
- Atari 8Bit
- Atari ST
- Apple II
- Apple II GS
- Commodore Amiga
- MSX2 computers
- MS-DOS computers
- Sega Genesis
There were many sequels. All of them for MS-DOS, but the following ones were different: while the first sequel appeared for computers, the rest of them only for consoles, mainly the Sega Genesis.
I played the MS-DOS port of this game a lot in the computer of my parents’ home, even to the degree of changing the lineup, and hay relatively good sense on how to manage the pitchers. Of course, my old nemesis, batting is here too, so the scores ussually were really low. I think to remember a game, I lost 1-0 in extra-innings, where probably both teams got 5 hits at most.
Personally, I like a lot the idea of a special match between the current champions and an all-star team comprised of players of the other teams. I think can be used as a nice start of season.
With this game, my father taught me something that not only applies to this sport: A good player in an unknown position is more prone to make mistakes than a bad player in the position known to him.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.