When you commence a game in Nintendo’s Baseball, it gives you the choice of playing in US mode, or Japan mode. The only difference between the two is in the names of the players. No rule changes, no different graphics; nothing that would at all affect gameplay.
As a batter, you have the ability to move about the batters box, and swing. Nothing more, though, what else would you want to do? In the very likely event that you hit the ball (just swing as soon as the ball is in the same general area as your character; you’d have to cheat in order to miss), your player makes a beeline for first base. A very, very slow beeline. You’ve got as much a chance of tagging up safe as you do of not hitting the ball. Either it’s a pop fly, it’s a foul ball, or you get thrown out. There is no safe in Nintendo’s Baseball.
In the event that hell becomes kind of chilly and you make it on to base, there will be no stopping you. You don’t have to make any more hits for the entire inning; all you have to do is steal. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to steal a base. When you’re at bat, just tap and tap and tap B + the button that corresponds to the base to which your player should run, and BAM! off he goes. The pitcher puts forth absolutely no effort in stopping you; he’s too busy trying to sail the ball across the plate just perfectly for you to hit a foul. Always steal; nothing bad can occur from it. Unless you really, really suck and your player fails to hit the ball, in which case the player ambling the bases is thrown out by the opposing team’s catcher.
In fielding, even greater problems exist. Somehow, no matter which of the two available teams (either the W-Bears or the R-Eagles) you chose, you always end up with a Game Boy version of the Blooper Parade. The fielders instinctively move towards the ball; all nine of them. Well, all those who don’t have the word “baseman” in their title, and the pitcher, and the catcher. They all move in exactly the same direction. You can’t move one without moving the other. This presents a problem, how I’m not sure. It just doesn’t seem at all right. You know a pop fly is about to occur when you see all of the fielders stop dead in their tracks. The first time you see this happen, you’ll inevitably scream obscenities at your Nintendo hand-held device of choice. Before much screaming has occurred, however, it will come to your attention that there’s someone standing below it, ready to catch, and you’ll breathe a sigh of relief. Unless you’re the one batting.
Fielding controls are a bitch. Since you control everybody in the outfield and the horizontally challenged stop at the same time, it is sometimes quite difficult to make the correct man go to the correct place. It can seem nice to just let loose and let the computer control the fielders for you, but come on: you’re playing against the computer. They are not going to help you win. Batting control is decent. I cannot see how it can be improved using 1989 Game Boy technology.
Well… I have seen worse. Not in this particular genre of video game, but I have seen worse. The animation is choppy to the point where it affects gameplay, and the players all look identical. Maybe this game is set in the distant future, and both teams are made entirely of humorous looking clones, but this is not reflected in the instruction booklet. The field upon which Baseball takes place is quite bland: completely olive green with white lines and brown splotches. The graphics are okay, but somebody could probably do better using MS Paint.
By the third inning, I had to yoink the headphone jack out of my GameBoy, and insert it into my CD player. The roar of the crowd when you connect with the bat or score a run is a nice touch, as is the sound of the dink of a bat as it touches base with the ball (HAHAH GET IT?!?!), and the sound of the ball fleeing your character, and being captured by your opponent. But, the incessantly irritating Atari 2600-sounding jingle that went on during gameplay made me want to insert the headphone jack into my ear, in hopes that it would cause enough damage so as to result in the loss of my hearing.
Nintendo’s Baseball is the kind of game you want to have in your collection, at first because you’ll be like, “Hey, baseball! I used to suck at that sport! I bet it makes a good video game though.” You’ll play it, get bored by the fourth inning of repetitive gameplay, and shut off your Game Boy. But then, years later, you’ll be digging around in your video game collection, and you’ll see Nintendo’s Baseball pleading at you with its warm, inviting gray eyes, and you’ll play it again, forgetting how much you dislike it. But, you’ll get bored again, and on the cycle goes. Nintendo’s Baseball is a once-in-every-few-years kind of game.
I got through an entire game without wanting to swallow a cyanide pill, so it couldn’t have been that bad. I did enjoy stealing bases at my own free will, and I did enjoy scoring the hell out of the R-Eagles in the fourth inning. I did not enjoy my fieldsmen’s incompetence, and the uberfielding of the R-Eagles. I did enjoy myself, to some extent. Just not as much as I feel I should have.
I wish that I could give this game a higher score; after all, it has killed time for me on many a long car ride. The game is just too damn repetitive to do so. With each passing inning, the monotony just grows and grows, until…well…until you turn the game off. If you find yourself in need of a simple baseball game, or need Nintendo’s Baseball to round off your GameBoy collection, then by all means: go for it. But if you’re just the average Joe video game player, just looking for a fun game, then look elsewhere. You will not find it in Nintendo’s Baseball.