The 2016 MLB season is underway and Game-Block is getting in on the action by replaying some of the most beloved baseball video games in history. There have been plenty of great baseball games throughout the years, but my personal favorite has to be Jaleco's Bases Loaded for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Only a fool would claim that it is the most polished and deep baseball game ever made, but I have no problem saying that Bases Loaded is the one that I've always had the most FUN playing.
There was just so much that Bases Loaded did that was revolutionary: there was some pretty advanced (for the time) voice work in the game as the umpire audibly called out balls, strikes, and home runs. The game had such a great presentation too, there were specific animations for homers and pitching changes. The sound effects and musicals cues were fun yet baseball-appropriate, and watching someone play the game was just as enjoyable as playing it yourself. The graphics were pretty advanced for the time as the game took a very unique approach to it's pitching and hitting mechanics. while Bases Loaded emulated its peers by utilizing a traditional overhead view during the fielding aspect of the game, when you were at bat or pitching the perspective changed to a behind-the-back view of the pitcher. It was something we had never seen in a baseball video game before, and is still utilized by contemporary games like The Show to this day.
Bases Loaded wasn't an officially licensed product of Major League Baseball, so the developer didn't have access to the official MLB rosters. Jaleco overcame this with grace and style by created unique teams and rosters to populate their game with, and while it was initially disappointing that Kirby Puckett and Ricky Henderson weren't in the game you quickly found yourself cheering for made-up players like Carr and Oko. All these guys had individual stats that would display on-screen right before their at-bat, and while the NES technology wasn't advanced enough for their numbers to update it still gave you a good idea of their offensive potential.
And not every one of these made up guys looked exactly the same like most other sports video games. Jaleco injected a little personality into the rosters by mixing up the character models for the players. Sure, there was only five or six different models available so players naturally looked a bit redundant, but at least you weren't looking at the exact same guy every single at bat. Given the technical limitations of the Nintendo Entertainment System any distinction at all in a sports game was refreshing.
Bases Loaded has aged pretty well, I had a blast recording the above video this afternoon. I'm not a big sports guy anymore and I think a lot of that is because the games have simply become too complicated to fully enjoy. To be able to play 9 innings with only having to worry about two buttons really opened me up to simply enjoying the game itself. The Show is prettier, deeper, and accurately reflects the drama and excitement found in Major League Baseball today. But for me it's just not as entertaining as Bases Loaded.
Have a retro game you want to see covered on The Cabinet? Email me at email@example.com!