"Even ancient games like Tecmo Super Bowl proved capable of doing entire weeks of games in mere seconds. So, why does it take a good five to 10 minutes to simulate ONE game here? If you want to play two or three games at a sitting, you better have a good book on hand or you’ll be spending as much time blankly staring at your TV screen as you will playing."
Back when I was a young’un, I sure loved to play me some Baseball Simulator 1.000 on my Nintendo. I’d go through an entire 165-game season (the largest of numerous options) in a handful of months and be ready to start again after winning it all. Hell, I even once created my own rosters for each and every one of the six teams I had in my league, giving folks I thought were cool excellent stats and making those on my shit list benchwarmers with sub-.200 batting averages and no power or speed.
What was I thinking?
Don’t get me wrong. For its time, Baseball Simulator 1.000 was a pretty solid sports title thanks to simply having more options than most others. Unfortunately, a number of flaws ensured this game aged so poorly I had to rack my brain to remember how I ever got so into it in the first place.
It doesn’t take long for a player to discover the “simulator” aspects of Baseball Simulator 1.000. Not only are stats kept to show off the league leaders in home runs, batting average, wins, earned run average and various other stats (something not found in Bases Loaded and many other games of that time), but an ambitious player could create their own team if none of those present interested them.
In editing a team, a gamer could quickly change the names of their players and give them various skills. There’d be a set number of attribute points to divvy between position players, pinch hitters and pitchers. A skilled manager could easily craft an offense balanced with speedy guys capable of slapping the ball and beating out singles and doubles, as well as lumbering oafs that might not connect with the ball often, but when they do....WATCH OUT! As far as pitching goes, it’s equally simple to create a fastball specialist as it is to craft a couple guys with sweet curveballs.
While 12 of the teams are somewhat mired in reality, the other six, which form the “Ultra” League, add a bit of cartoonish appeal. All players get to choose from a number of special moves. Batters may hit the ball with so much velocity that anyone attempting to grab it gets propelled all the way to the outfield wall. Pitchers may unleash a pitch so violently as to make it impossible to put into play. It’s definitely not your average afternoon at the ol’ ball park.
Unfortunately, after playing a couple baseball games on more advanced systems, I must admit that even the more normal mode of play isn’t particularly realistic (or even enjoyable) today.
After learning the controls and getting used to the gameplay, it becomes painfully easy to put runs on the board in most games. Batting is handled from an somewhat overhead perspective from slightly behind the batter’s box, so there isn’t much strategy in guessing what the pitcher is going to do. If the ball looks like it’s going to cross the plate, take a swing at it and odds are you’ll connect. A far cry from even the ancient Bases Loaded, where there were many spots a pitcher could aim for, forcing batters to think fast in order to not look foolish.
Pitching wasn’t much tougher to master. Any pitcher with a solid curveball can be close to impossible for the computer to figure out, making it fairly easy to get strikeouts when needed. To “balance” that, it’s impossible to give starters a realistic amount of stamina. In real life, it’s common to see a starting pitcher go seven or more innings as long as they’re cruising. Here, making it five innings is grounds for celebration. Usually by that point, regardless of how efficient you were, they’re getting tired. That causes their curveball to stop moving and their fastball to take an eternity to get to the plate. In other words -- bad news.
Still, if this was all there was bad about Baseball Simulator 1.000, I’d still be playing it today. Three very serious flaws essentially cripple this one, though. I was able to overlook them when I was young and dumb, but can’t anymore.
1. So, you’ve gotten good and are winning games left and right? That sucks for you, because it’s inevitable you’ll get up by four or more games in the standings. Now, not only are all of your pitchers constantly in a state of fatigue, but your hitters seem to be as well. Prepare to start dropping games! Words can’t do justice to how annoying this is. The game rewards a player for being good by stacking the deck against them. Even if you’re good enough to overcome the very troublesome problem of weary pitchers, it’s sure not easy to put runs on the board when virtually every swing of the bat leads to weak grounders and lazy pop-ups. It’s hard to conceive a cheaper way to ensure a close division race for an entire season.
2. Anyone who’s played any sports game that simulates a season knows that any contest not being manually played is being simulated by the computer. Even ancient games like Tecmo Super Bowl proved capable of doing entire weeks of games in mere seconds. So, why does it take a good five to 10 minutes to simulate ONE game here? If you want to play two or three games at a sitting, you better have a good book on hand or you’ll be spending as much time blankly staring at your TV screen as you will playing.
3. Oh, and as for the big “draw” of this game -- the “Ultra” League.....forget about it. It’s horribly broken so that anyone with a bit of intuition can win games with the greatest of ease. This game has a mercy rule, where if a team’s up by 10 runs at the close of an inning, they are declared the winner. So, all one has to do is go all out to start an “Ultra” League game and completely overwhelm the opponent in the first inning or two. Teams only have so many ultra points at their disposal per game, but there’s more than enough to deliver a good double-digit inning to ensure a quick win. After discovering this little trick, I never played another “Ultra” League game.
Baseball Simulator 1.000 is, at best, an archaic relic of a time long past. It was one of the first console games to accurately keep stats over an extended period of time and likely one of the first that allowed players to customize their own team. Not having anything better to occupy my time, I was able to overlook a number of crippling flaws when I was young because of that. Now, it’s impossible to do. Anything this game accomplishes has been done better by countless games, making it completely obsolete to me.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (May 02, 2007)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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