Baseball Simulator 1.000
Year released: 1989
Company: Culture Brain
I don't like baseball. Football is my big sport, I'm a fan of hockey to a point, basketball is exciting during the playoffs, I can watch golf, tennis is OK; heck, I've even lingered on a few 9-ball tournaments on ESPN. But baseball is far and away the most boring sport out there, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe that's why Baseball Simulator 1.000 is my favorite incarnation of the sport; because rather than just regurgitate the game, it infuses it with a fervor that isn't found everywhere else. This permeates throughout the entire game and makes for a very enjoyable experience.
Presentationally, there really isn't a whole lot that could be done with the graphics of the game that hasn't already been done by other games such as the licensed MLB game or RBI Baseball. You've got the standard batter's perspective when a team is up to bat, and the characters look somewhat caricatured. I would've preferred a little more variety in the player depictions, since everyone looks the same, but that's redeemed by the hilarious reaction you get when a player gets beaned. The music in this game is also held up primarily by one theme: The one that plays when two Ultra teams compete against one another. It's fast-paced, snazzy, and adds to the enjoyment of the game.
Controlling the players is also a relatively simple task. Your batter has free movement inside the batter's box, allowing him to reach just about any pitch the goes over the plate. Running the bases isn't difficult either, since the controller intuitively picks up the base layout pretty well. The only problem on the offensive side of things is that if you're playing an Ultra team, there's no way to steal a base without activating the batter's Ultra Hit. Also, there's no way to deactivate any Ultra move once it's selected. Defensively, your fielders move at a decent rate, so you shouldn't have any trouble with most fly balls, so long as they stay in the yard. Pitching is a slight bit confusing, but I'll attribute that to the fact that I haven't read the manual. Suffice to say that holding up or down as you release the ball influences the throw in certain ways.
If there really was any flaw with the game, it's that it doesn't really pose much of a challenge when you're playing by yourself. Every game I play winds up getting called on account of the mercy rule, and rarely does this happen after the 7th inning. Even when competing against another Ultra team, I tend to be a little more strategic in my use of Ultra plays, and that's the usual cause of all my lopsided victories. However,I'm only docking one point because the easiness doesn't really detract from the gameplay at all; considering how the other two baseball games in my collection like to put me on the short end of a 12-2 score, it feels nice that I can do it right back to the CPU.1
The enjoyment of the game is drastically augmented with the presence of the Ultra plays as alluded to above, particularly the Ultra hits. Some of them are really fun to watch, like the Missile Hit, which carries any fielder unlucky enough to be in its path to the back wall; the Tremor Hit, which is especially useful during bunts; and the Hyper Hit, which usually sends the ball all the way off the screen. The Ultra plays, to put it simply, make this game the romp that it is. It's a precursor to the other superhuman-infused sports games (NBA Jam, NFL Blitz), and it makes the game incredibly fast-paced.
Two other features play their part effectively: first, the Season mode, which can be as short as five games and long as 165, allowing for quick or involved campaigns. The only detracor here is that you have to spend time on games you're not playing in, and even choosing "Skip" requires you to sit and wait for a final score to develop. There's also an Edit mode, which allows you to create your own team from scratch, including the distribution of Ultra plays. It's especially satisfying to see a team you built yourself ride roughshod over the rest of the league. These extras really add to the lasting interest of the game: even months since my last session, I can still pick up this game and watch Wink Martindale2 blast one over the fence.
So while I may not be a fan of baseball in real life, Baseball Simulator 1.000 did exactly what it had to do to become a winner: take out the reality.
1. Why no, I'm not bitter. Why do you ask?
2. Or "WINK", as the game will only allow four-letter names. My edit team, which consists mainly of veteran game show hosts, consists of WINK, TRBK, SAJK, CNVY, EBKS, CULN, BRKR, TMRK, SMRS, and many others. (For 10 points, decipher those names.)
|Play Control: ||
|Technical Score: 15
|Challenge: || (Easy)
|Aesthetic Score: 17
|Overall Score: 89%|