Weekly Retro Column: Baseball Stars

January 7, 2003

Welcome back to the Weekly Retro Column. Sorry about the brief
absence, but with the holidays and the launch we’ve been swamped.
This week’s game is Baseball Stars for the NES. Released in 1989
and developed by SNK this game is a baseball classic.

Baseball Stars is my favorite game ever. I can’t believe that in
the past 14 years no one has managed to build upon the groundwork
that Baseball Stars laid for a baseball franchise. The control that
you have over your team including the hiring and firing is unparalleled
by any game to date. When I was younger I would spend hours beating
The Lovely Ladies over and over trying to save up enough cash to
upgrade my clean-up hitter. Occasionally I’ll still pick up this
game and get hooked for a week or so. Best baseball game ever, hands

You have to wonder how a game of this quality came around so early.
It is obviously the most thought out and replayable NES game ever.
I remember getting deeply involved in this game trying to keep my
average around .400. Of course I made myself in the game as well
as my cousins, and together we would take on the computer or each other.
You may not know this, but Soda and I both grew up playing baseball
so there is special connection to this game that to this day I have
yet to feel with another baseball game.

I had my cousins and myself in this game as well. Eventually though
I ran out of cousin’s names and had my cat catching and my dog playing
right field. I’ll tell you what, my cat could freaking slug. For
this NES the graphics in this game were pretty sweet as well. The
pitching motions were pretty fluid and it was the first game that
I can remember that included different arm angles for the pitcher.
Additionally this was the first game that I can remember having
the ability to dive for a foul ball or climb the fence trying to
bring back a homerun ball. One thing that was lacking was the MLBPA
license though. There were no real teams included in the game and
what replaced them was a very odd cast of characters. Oc
a team would have one or two girls on it, but there was also the
all girl team, The Lovely Ladies. The girls were kind of funny.
You could bean them with the ball and they would fall down and cry.
When you’re nine that never gets old.

First of all the diving and leaping the game had was gold. I remember
bringing back homeruns with a leap at the wall. As far as game play
is concerned the game was smooth. The pitching and batting were
tight all the way around. The field however seemed like it was a
mile long, but your guys could run down the deep fly ball with relative
ease. The ladies teams were classic, but my favorite was the Ghastly
Monsters team. Everyone on the Ghastly Monsters had the name of
some old school horror flick. I mean how much does it suck to have
to pitch against Jason batting clean up. I would hate to be the
coach and have to post the starting line up for that team…shit
you will literally get a knife in you back.

No kidding I can see it now, “Allright Jason, we’re looking
to up the defense for today so we’re going with Cyclops for the
start.” Seconds later the sound of a chainsaw firing up fills
the clubhouse. Also cool in Baseball Stars was the team called the
American Dreams. They were the best team by a mile and were all
named after some baseball greats. Lou, Babe and Joe were all players
on this team. One thing about the game that really bothered me is
when the view switched from the batters box to the field. All the
girls would turn into boys. At nine years old I wasn’t quite prepared
for a subliminal sex-change lesson.

You want to know the best thing about this game…it was not
a home run derby, hell you were lucky to park one out the mile long
centerfield. The game was a true to form baseball sim. No crap to
deal with, just you and your team in a league. You were able to
raise your player’s stats and help bring you team home some jack.
I am so disappointed in the lack of any good baseball games now.
It really is frustrating to get a new baseball game it be some homerun
derby or a game that is so out of control you cant do jack crap.
I tell you what I really want for a change, Baseball stars repackaged
with a MLBPA license. I guarantee that it will sell like hotcakes
and be a damn good game. I suggest
to the new game developers to
build upon the foundation of Baseball Stars. Everything about the
game was great, from batting to pitching to fielding. Long live
SNK and Baseball Stars!