This is part 3 of a 4 week series ranking the Baseball Games of the NES. Click here for Part 1 or here for Part 2.
As always, these are the opinions of some guy in his mid 30's playing these games by himself on an emulator. My rankings are based solely on my opinions while playing against the computer as an adult who has consumed too much vodka; and are, therefore, peerless.
Also, I've included the chronological order of games to give a sense of history of the 7+ years that baseball games were made for the NES. Unlike my rankings, it almost certainly isn't 100% correct. If the internet says one game came out sometime in 1988 and a different game came out in July of 1988, I usually just guessed at which came first.
So here they are, games 10 through 6...
#10. TECMO BASEBALL
Released January 1989 (5 of 20 NES baseball games)
This turd is from Tecmo? The people who brought us the beloved Tecmo Bowl?
I'm going to level with you. The only reason Tecmo Baseball made the top 10 is because of those awful Bases Loaded games. Tecmo Baseball is nothing more than an uninspired ripoff of the original Bases Loaded, but it managed to correct some of that game's more egregious flaws. You can actually hit the ball, and fielding is better than the shit-stain known as Bases Loaded. That's about all it does right.
|Fuck you, game.|
The graphics are about as generic as you can get. The play is slow. Running the bases is frustrating. But none of that comes close to this game's biggest sin: It's boring. There's just nothing remotely interesting about this game. No weird quirks, no novel ideas, just a very basic baseball game. Even the home run scoreboard animation is just a rehash of things other games have done before. There's an All-Star Game and you can turn the DH rule on or off, but those really aren't terribly exciting options. I expected a lot more from the TECMO name.
|...the urge to fall asleep|
The box says you can pick from 14 major league teams, but, aside from the city names, there's nothing authentic about the rosters.
It's a completely functional (albeit frustratingly generic) NES baseball game that still managed to improve on a much more popular game. Thankfully, this isn't the only baseball game released by Tecmo.
#9. RBI BASEBALL 3
Released in 1991 (13th of 20 NES baseball games)
RBI 3 uses the same engine as RBI 2. The graphics appear identical. The rosters are different; this time the players and stats are taken from the 1990 season. The music is better. And, I'm not positive, but I think the fielding is slightly more responsive.
The big difference between the two games is that RBI 3 lets you play as any playoff team from 1983 to 1990. So, instead of being stuck as the abysmal sub .500 Cubs of 1990, you can relive the glory seasons of 1984 and 1989. This option, along with the above-average mechanics, make this one of the better baseball games for the NES.
|RBI 3: Putting things right that once went wrong|
#8. BO JACKSON BASEBALL
Released October 1991 (16 of 20 NES baseball games)
Bo Jackson Baseball feels completely different from any other NES baseball game.
One of the most obvious differences is the ability to pre-select types of pitches or swings by using the directional pad; something that wouldn't be standard on baseball games for years to come.
The available pitches are slider, curve, fastball, change-up. While batting, you can select contact, power, "normal," or bunt towards first or third.
The gameplay is pretty solid. Fielders aren't lethargic and base runners actually move like they're trying to reach safely. The default view while you're pitching is behind the pitcher's shoulder. Mercifully, this can be turned off in the options.
The options are what set Bo Jackson Baseball apart from other NES baseball games. You can turn the music on or off, set the number of innings (5-9), change the difficulty setting for each player (Little League, Big League or All-Star), change the view to get rid of the over the pitcher's shoulder view, and change the playoffs to a best of 3, 5 or 7 games.
|Unfortunately, there's no "Stop My Pitcher From Looking Like Quasimodo" option|
The amount options combined with the relative ease of control make this one of the better games for the NES if you're looking for a straightforward baseball experience.
#7. BASEBALL STARS II
Released July 1992 (19 of 20 NES baseball games)
Baseball Stars 2 has a bad reputation among fans of NES baseball games, and a lot of the hate is undeserved.
Gameplay-wise, it's essentially the exact same game as it's beloved predecessor, with a couple of improvements:
- You now have the option to make defensive shifts.
- Bunts no longer involve just checking your swing and can now be directed towards first or third.
- You can play in 4 different stadiums, ROMSTAR Stadium, City Stadium, Country Stadium or Dome Stadium. Aside from pure aesthetics, there are no differences between the stadiums. Still, it's nice to shake things up.
But the improvements stop there, and aren't nearly enough to make up for what Baseball Stars II lacks.
Unlike the original:
- There are no female players of any kind. No Ladies team, no way to hire women for your own team, no secret code.
- You can still create a team, but the team names and logos are predetermined for you, as are player names. Remember all the fun you had creating a team with the names of all your friends? This is your punishment for filling in your roster with guys named Turd, Ass, Poop and Fuck.
- You can still hire and fire players, but all new players on your team are assigned generic names like ROOK2 or STAR1 that cannot be changed.
- The teams are boring. No Ninja Blacksox, no Lovely Ladies, no pathetic SNK Crushers, no Ghastly Monsters and no American Dreams. Now you have the Torrance Tigers and the Detroit Arrows. Fuck you!
- No emotionally destroyed pitcher banging his fist on the mound and weeping when the opponent hits a home run.
|Baseball Stars II: Now 100% Free of emotion & human drama!|
It still has the great SNK feel and the gameplay is as smooth as ever. It contains a battery pack and the ability to play a 125 game season, but who cares? The lack of customization hurts what could have been the best NES baseball game ever made. This is the perfect game for the kid who liked everything about the original Baseball Stars except for all that wonder and imagination.
#6. Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball
Released in July 1990 (12 of 20 NES baseball games)
The is the video game version of those sandlot pick-up games you played as a kid. Actually, the only baseball I ever played was Little League because my parents were of the opinion that sports should never be something you enjoy doing, so this is more like that romanticized notion of childhood that your parents or grandparents tried to convince you actually existed before all these damn video games, crack babies and Democrats turned life into a living hell.
|"Youse guys wanna play stickball?" - "Soitenly"|
What a weird fucking game. First of all, technically it's softball, not baseball. So, in slow pitch mode, you can have 10 fielders. If you hit three foul balls in an at-bat, you're out. A standard game lasts only 7 innings.
You select from a bunch of faces that look like some sort of overly-complicated version of Guess Who. Some players have special abilities (i.e.the ability to float), some players have gimmicks (El Diablo bats with a spiky club), and some are just terrible (looking at you, Arnie). And many of those things overlap. There's usually no way to tell who has something interesting about them just by looking at their faces, but I think that adds to the charm.
|Is your person the Prince of Darkness?|
You have the ability to select from five different fields. They all have their own ground rules. For instance, if you play in the school yard and hit a home run, it's a home run...unless the ball breaks one of the school's windows, then you're automatically out. The cliff has a split-rail fence, and if the ball happens to roll under or bounce between the rails, it's a ground-rule double. In some non-fenced fields, you can still catch balls that travel beyond the home run line for an out.
Once you win a game on every field in 1p mode, you play an all-girl's team of elite softball players called The Amazons. They're the Boss of this game and just about impossible to defeat.
It doesn't have the best mechanics, but the sheer number of available players with different abilities and the unique fields and rules give this game a ton of replay value. I'm a bit sad that I didn't invest countless hours of my childhood on this game.