Great Baseball

Author: Matt Bielby
Publisher: Sega
Machine: Sega Master System (EU Version)

Published in Computer & Video Games #87

Great Baseball

Channel Four hasn't devoted quite as much time to baseball as it has American Football, so I guess a fair number of you out there are as ignorant of the rule intricacies as I am. Good job then that Sega's baseball game is playable enough to be fun on first loading, whether you've bothered to read the (skimpy) rule book or not.

Great Baseball does its best to recreate the game as well as possible. You can choose to play the computer or a human opponent over several levels of difficulty, and can pick "real" league teams and to some extent modify their abilities. You can choose, for instance a pitcher, stamina levels and whether their speciality is to be slider, knuckleball or something equally unsavoury-sounding. Certainly no concessions are made to aid the understanding of us dumb Brits.

With your keypad and buttons you can now bat, field, pitch, run between bases and all the other business of the game, with the scene sometimes switching to the scoreboard, or to another infuriating longshot as the computer player hits yet another perfect home run. Certainly for a beginner, it would be wise to start off with your fielders set to run for a catch automatically, rather than having to worry about controlling them too.

Great Baseball

There is a lot more complicated business too - you are able to bring on a relief pitcher should your current one be flagging (a very wise move) and you can take part in a special home-run contest sub-game (to see how many boundary hits you can make out of 20 perfect pitches in a row). Should you make a home run the crowd go wild, doing a sort of Mexican wave.

Sound, graphics and animation are up to the general high, clean standards of Sega games. There are really very few ways to fault it except to say that the weaknesses of the video game are the same as the weaknesses of the real thing. Baseball doesn't flow particularly well as a game in the same way that soccer does. There are too many stops and starts, and too much switching between playing pitcher, hitter and catcher for me, at any rate to get fully into the idea of playing the game. Instead it's more like taking a passive, distant role watching the little men on the field play the game.

Still, if you're into baseball, you'll no doubt be very, very pleased with it.

Matt Bielby

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