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Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball

Genre: Sports Developer: Iguana Ent. Publisher: Acclaim  Players: 1-2  Released: 1995

Now here’s a game that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. I’m going to go ahead and say it: this game is awesome!

While it doesn’t have the name recognition or nostalgia of the World Series Baseball games, this is quite comparable. A lot of these old baseball games are hard, some unfairly so. The computer opponent is always too fast and too skilled, the gameplay is slow as molasses, and your team always manages to strike out in under a minute. However, not so for Big Hurt. Here, it is possible to actually score and even win. What a novel concept! Some may look at this as a bad point, but personally, I don’t tend to hold absurdly difficult games in high regard. Thankfully this one is very easy to control and play, just like it should be.

On the hitting side, you’re pretty limited; move left or right and swing. It’s straightforward and very arcadey, which I like. On the pitching side, you have a few more options. You can pick from fastball, split-finger, or change-up. Pick the height and speed of the pitch and wind up! It’s intuitive, even if cycling through three different options every pitch does get a little tedious after a while. The fielding control is incredibly fluid, and the outfielders’ speed is perfect. The controls can really make or break in this genre, and here they work splendidly. Throwing the ball between players is much quicker than other games, and the overall speed definitely puts it a step ahead of the competition.

The sound is not that great. Just about every baseball game on the Genesis tried to do crowd sound, and every single one failed. The system was just not up to the task! The crowd noise here sounds like static playing underwater, and it’s very annoying. Also, no play-by-play commentary, which is a bit of a bummer. Even Sports Talk Baseball had that, and it came out five years before this game! The in-game music is pretty sparse, with just a few keyboard ditties cycling in and out over a wash of static noise. The menu music is funky and bassy. It’s not bad, but not great.

The graphics, however, are phenomenal. The game came out in 1995, in the Genesis’ twilight years, when developers had figured out how to push the hardware to the limit. This is about as close to 3D as the Genny was ever going to get. Player sprites are not as ridiculously big as in World Series, but they are nice and large and full of movement. The batting animations as well as the overhead sprites from the field view are both very well-animated. The stadiums look great and realistic from overhead. One nitpick is that there is a curious lack of faces, but it’s not extremely noticeable once you get used to it. The menus are deep and intuitive and also animated.

In addition to the exhibition, season, and play off modes, there are also a few extra modes as well. Clutch Time is great for strategists. You choose from multiple scenarios where you’re thrown into a game that’s halfway over or where your team is down by a certain number of points and challenged to turn it into a win. It’s a pretty brilliant little concept and unique among the rest of the Genesis baseball games. This along with the regular options of switching out starters and changing pitchers really give players a chance to flex their managerial muscle. The Home Run Derby is simply a test to see how many home runs you can hit and how far. Both of these modes give the player something extra to sink their teeth into and add replay value to an already easily replayable game.

If you’ve played World Series Baseball to death and are looking for a change of scenery, but don’t want to downgrade to earlier, cruder games, then Big Hurt should be right up your alley.

SCORE: 8 out of 10

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