Base Wars (NES) review
"If the tedious fights were taken out of Base Wars, or if the faulty computer intelligence had been fixed, a better baseball game would have been produced. As it stands though, Base Wars is just an inferior hybrid."
Base Wars bills itself as a baseball game mixed with tremendous robotic battles. True, to its name, it’s the only baseball game where fights can break out between huge cyborgs and tanks on the base paths. Unfortunately, the baseball in this game is enacted with the subtle efficiency of Mack truck.
The meager story is as follows: In the year 20XX, Major League Baseball has long gone the way of the dinosaur. It has been deemed too boring and slow by the general populace; sound familiar? It has been replaced by robots who engage in ultra-violent baseball games while hitting mammoth home runs and firing off multiple hundreds of mile per hour fastballs.
Base Wars is similar to real baseball, but not quite the same. When the ball is hit into the field, you can’t tag anybody out. In a tagging situation, a fight breaks out, and action shifts to a side-scrolling screen where the battle takes place. There are four different types of robots, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages in a fight. In addition to these types, weapons can be purchased, such as a sword, iron glove, or machine gun. If the defending robot wins the battle, then the runner is out, and vice versa.
The games themselves are lackluster though. They aren’t realistic, of course, but it’s impossible to have fun due to the one-sided nature of the gameplay. Any human team put together with some intelligence can beat up on the computer because it makes questionable fielding and base running decisions. The aforementioned fights become comical: Computer controlled robots walk in a straight line to their death at the hands of a laser sword.
The batter and pitcher interface isn't too shabby. Both the hitter and pitcher can move left to right. The batter has some control over the batted ball - Holding down hits a deep fly ball, holding up produces a ground ball. Likewise, if a pitcher has a good arm, he can throw as fast as two-hundred miles per hour, or as slow as fifteen miles per hour with a ball that goes from sixty feet left to sixty feet right.
Games can be played one at a time, exhibition style, or in a season mode. In the season mode, you control a team for up to twenty-five games. You can purchase upgrades for your players, such as weapons, shoulder upgrades for more hitting power, and better pitching arms.
These upgrades aren’t free though. You get twenty thousand dollars for each game that you win, and five thousand for each loss. However, the computer AI provides another letdown, as computer-controlled teams spend their money stupidly. While you’re saving up money for power shoulders and speed boosters, it’s busy spending it on weak weaponry and other useless fighting enhancements.
Base Wars does excels graphically though. It has some of the best graphics for a Nintendo baseball game. The animation of the batter swinging is excellent; you can see the dirt kick up whenever a robot swings. The upgrade animation for your robots is also impressive. You can watch as new parts are surgically attached.
Sounds are also a strong suit of Base Wars. A catchy theme pervades the menus and gameplay of Base Wars. Sharp sound effects are present throughout, from the sharp metallic clang of the batter hitting the ball to the mechanical “whoosh” of a fastball coming out of the pitcher's arm cannon.
If the tedious fights were taken out of Base Wars, or if the faulty computer intelligence had been fixed, a better baseball game would have been produced. As it stands though, Base Wars is just an inferior hybrid. The concept is fun to play with for a few hours, but it quickly runs out of gas.
Staff review by Stephen Greenwell (December 22, 2003)
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