Major League Baseball (NES) review
"Baseball games on the NES were a dime a dozen back in the day, but only one sported the official MLB license. Finally, there was a game out there that didn't make you play as the SNK Crushers or Team A. Now you can play as the San Diego Padres, or Atlanta Braves, or for the sadomasochists out there, the New York Yankees. This was really a high selling point of the game, and I'm sure it sold a ton of copies based on this valuable license alone. "
Baseball games on the NES were a dime a dozen back in the day, but only one sported the official MLB license. Finally, there was a game out there that didn't make you play as the SNK Crushers or Team A. Now you can play as the San Diego Padres, or Atlanta Braves, or for the sadomasochists out there, the New York Yankees. This was really a high selling point of the game, and I'm sure it sold a ton of copies based on this valuable license alone.
Too bad the developers of the game completely failed to include anything else worthwhile. It's like they said, ''Okay, we got this baseball game, and we got this license for MLB teams and players, anything else we should include? Didn't think so.'' Which is really quite a shame, because a game with the official license and fun gameplay would have been an all time classic. However, that is not the case. The game suffers from too many flaws to be fun to play.. games like Bases Loaded and the classic Baseball Stars provide a much more satisfying baseball experience.
The major problem I had with this game, and one that bugged me many times throughout my playing experiences, is the wacky camera. When a player hits the ball to the outfield, the camera basically follows the ball looking upwards, so you can't really tell where your player is until the ball is already coming down, and by that time it is usually too late. This makes the fine art of catching fly balls a tedious exercise at best, and frustrating as hell when you're missing three fly balls in a row that cost you a ball game because the camera didn't let your player get under the ball in time.
In addition to the fact that at least 50 percent of fly balls will result in weak base hits and doubles, ground balls are another problem. For some unknown reason, almost every ball hit in the infield will end up as a base hit. I've had rollers hit right to the shortstop, where I throw the ball to 1st base, and the runner somehow beat out the throw. This happens a lot, so I know it is not a case of a speedy runner. It becomes impossibly challenging to record outs this way, because almost every out you will get will have to be forceouts at second base. And you can pretty much forget about ever turning a double play.
Offense is something that is erratic, also. First of all, balls are very hard to come by. The pitchers always seem to have the innate ability to find the strike zone. In the oft chance they actually throw a ball, it will look like a strike to begin with. Fortunately, hitting is easier than playing defense, and you will find yourself getting your fair share of hits throughout the game. Running the bases is fairly simple, one button moves you forward and one moves you back.. just remember that runners automatically run on fly balls and foul balls, so make sure to have them run back!
And there's not really a lot of modes to choose from, either. You'd think there would be some sort of season mode, but there isn't. You get to choose an exhibition game, then you can choose if you want a world series game, regular game, or preseason game. The cool thing is how you can set your lineups before the game. You can choose the order of people batting in your lineup, and you can choose a starting pitcher. This interaction is one of the few positive things in the game. Sadly, the lack of game modes makes this game seem very rushed and poorly done.
In addition to all these flaws, it's very hard to figure out the controls. I am having a tough time determining what button is used to throw the ball to 1st base. I push right, the ball goes down. I push down, the ball goes down. I push up and right, the ball goes up. I push down and right, the ball goes down. What button allows me to go to 1st base? And if you just push the button, the player will casually throw it to whatever base he feels like, sometimes allowing the runners to advance. This makes ground ball ''outs'', if you ever get them to begin with, even harder to manage. It's also annoying to have to bring your runners back after every fly ball and foul ball out, too.
The game doesn't necessarily have bad graphics, but they're simply average. The game did come out a long time ago, so don't expect terrific graphics. The player models are a little small, but decent enough. You can't see anything on their uniforms, however, which is a tad weird. The crowd is animated pretty nicely, I like how they cheer when a home run is hit. However, they just stand still every other time, and you know how NES sports crowds can be, basically a bunch of white dots. However, the graphics are workable and don't suffer from any breakup or problems, so it's all good.
There's not a lot of music in this game, but the music that is present won't get on your nerves too much. Most of the time, you will be playing in silence, which is fine with me. Baseball is a game that doesn't require music in gameplay, so drowning it out with cheap MIDI music might have worsened the experience even further. The charge tune does play once in a while, and there is some decent tune at the beginning of the title screen, but otherwise you will just deal with sound effects most of the time. These include cracks of the bat, crowd cheering, etc. Not bad all in all, but nothing great.
This game is extremely challenging to win, because of the camera and the fact that ground balls will rarely result in outs for you. It's extremely hard to get into a pitching groove, as well. The opposing batters will rarely swing at pitches outside the strike zone, and they will hit almost everything inside the strike zone. Strikeouts are hard to come by, and since ground ball outs and fly ball outs are also hard to perform, getting outs in general will become a frustrating activity very quickly. If you can survive 9 innings without losing by a ton of runs, you have my respect.
There is no replay value to speak of, either. The lack of game modes is the main reason, but if this game was fun, that wouldn't be much of a problem. However, this game is terribly boring and frustrating. Because of the lack of game modes, and the fact that games turn into slugfests with poor defense (on your part) because of frustrating controls and a frustrating camera, this game has no replay value whatsoever. Why would I want to play this crap when there's so much better baseball games out there, even on NES? Baseball Stars is the prime example, as that is the best baseball game on NES.
This is an extremely poor attempt at a baseball game, and I feel like I wasted my time by even playing this game, especially for the few hours I put into it. There's nothing even remotely close I can say that would justify playing this game at all. The game is too frustrating, with a horrible control scheme and camera, for me to recommend playing this, especially with much better NES baseball games out there. Just avoid this one if you see it and pick up the much better (although much more expensive) Baseball Stars. You'll thank yourself later.
The old saying is true, of course. You get what you pay for. Just ask the Yankees.
Community review by psychopenguin (November 01, 2003)
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