Bases Loaded

Publisher: Jaleco
Genre: Sports
Year of Release: 1988

Date Reviewed: 2-15-98 ("Old Era")

Before corporations began torquing with baseball in order to present innovative video games based thereon, all games were in competition for only one thing: to see who could produce the most realistic adaptation of the sport. Jaleco's Bases Loaded is a textbook case of how a realism-based baseball game was best designed for an 8-bit system.

All 8-bit baseball games had one choice to make: who should have more freedom of movement -- the batter or the pitcher. Bases Loaded elected to go with the less-utilized television perspective, giving the player a view from behind the pitcher. However, the batter was not completely neglected -- far from it, in fact. When in control of the batter, the player must choose from nine different positions to swing at, from high and outside to low and inside, with everything in between available. The pitcher has each of those positions to throw at, and, in addition, must choose the speed of his pitch. An understanding of what must be done in the wind-up is essential for success. After selecting one's position on the mound, the player in control of the pitcher presses the "A" button to begin the wind-up. In the brief time before the ball is released, there are two entries that must be made -- one determines the speed of the pitch, the other determines the direction. Pressing up increases the speed of the pitch, pressing down decreases it, and direction is self-explanatory. Pressing nothing for both of those entries throws a pitch of average speed at a centralized position.

However, 90% of the game's interface is present in the pitching/hitting portion of play. The fielding interface is comparatively basic. It still maintains the game's feeling of realism, but in a slightly more unorthodox way. The force of gravity is somewhat odd in that the ball falls more quickly than it rises. This was orchestrated to reduce the frequency of home runs, thus making the game more realistic. That effort is commendable. However, an unfortunate side effect of this is that it is nearly impossible to anticipate where the ball will land. Even the computerized players seem confused of the landing position of the ball.

To further their efforts to make this game as realistic as possible, Jaleco deepened the rosters of the available teams. Most baseball simulations of the time featured no more than four pinch hitters and relief pitchers. Bases Loaded, conversely, features no fewer than seven or eight per team, each varying in skill. Also, given that certain players may start fights when hit by a pitch, and thus be ejected, there is potential for these substitutes to actually be needed.

Another negative facet of this game, however, is its lack of user-friendliness. Bases Loaded cannot be casually played. The only possible season length is the traditional 162-game pennant race. This season cannot be saved. Instead, there is a password option, so the player must take down a different password after each game. Keeping track of the passwords is tedious, not to mention a waste of paper. There is no exhibition mode, so the player cannot choose the teams that play, and must complete a three-game series with one team before being allowed to play another. The probability of that team being the one the player was hoping for is still only about 10 percent. Bases Loaded was remarkably realistic for an 8-bit adaptation of the game of baseball... perhaps too realistic.

My Score: 7

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