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La Russa Baseball ’95

Genre: Sports Developer: Stormfront Studios/High Score Prod. Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1
Released: 1994

Sometimes sequels break new ground, try something different, or change things up. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes, not so much. The original Tony La Russa Baseball was an average to below average sports game and nothing more, though it did have a nice array of technical options to fiddle around with. So I was expecting its younger brother to be a new and improved version. Well, let’s just say, be careful what you wish for.

Pitching is done in a 3/4 view from behind the mound. It’s smooth  and has your standard pitching types: fastball, curve, and more. I didn’t have any difficulty with this section of the game. However, the hitting section is fairly dire. It is irritatingly difficult to connect with the ball and feels more like trying to hit a gumball with a tiny stick than any semblance of real baseball. I loathe how the game calls strikes and balls before you’ve even finished your swing. Very obnoxious. The players in the field also control a bit jerkily. Overall, the controls feel plain sloppy.

Thankfully, the game does give you the option to switch your viewpoint from behind the pitcher to behind the batter, and when batting, it is critically, absolutely necessary to switch behind your batter, as trying to swing from 3/4 head-on view is an exercise in futility. Seriously, you’ll strike out 99% of the time. But when you switch to the normal view, you’ll only strike out 89% of the time. Yay for progress!

The players are well-animated, if not particularly special-looking. The look is miles better than the original, but stacked against other 1995 Genesis baseball games, it doesn’t stand out from the pack graphically. Background noise in the stadium is the standard awful, incessant aquarium hum. It actually sounds worse than the original, though I can’t really fault this, as almost every Genesis baseball game attempted crowd noise and all failed miserably. The only music available is on the title and menu screens, and it’s kind of catchy with some thick bass. It’s nice for what it is. The umpire calls strikes and fouls, but not balls, which feels odd. The audio samples are clear, at least. Batting and other sound effects are right on the money. This part at least, is a step up from the first game.

In addition to lots of stats options for the nerds out there, there is also a save option you can access mid-game, which is the one thing La Russa Baseball ’95 has over some other baseball games. It’s a nice touch. It also has 28 real teams with real players, and six generic stadiums. There’s also a separate section where you can take over as manager and trade players to build a dream team.

La Russa Baseball ’95 doesn’t really do anything to stand out from the glut of other baseball games for the system. Everything here has been done before, in much better form, and the game gets tedious and frustrating fairly quickly. It’s an improvement over the original, which might not be saying much, but there’s not really any reason to seek this out when there are so many better options available. Nevertheless, if you see it gathering dust in a shop, perhaps give it a playthrough and decide for yourself.

SCORE:  4 out of 10

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