Genre: Sports Developer: Sega of Japan Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1992
Awesome. Just Awesome. Finally a baseball game I can play without being overwhelmed by bad graphics or irritating gameplay! AND it has actual player names! Wow, I had no choice but to buy Sports Talk Baseball when I was little. I don’t think I have ever spent more time playing with any other game for the Genesis. It is not necessarily the best game overall, or even the best baseball game, but it is truly one that I love perhaps more than any other in the genre on the Genesis.
Many different things make this a great play, but mainly it’s the sheer fun you have while playing. This game doesn’t include a sixty-seven tiered batting system, and it doesn’t have that irritating (but sometimes helpful) RBI “everyone moves when you move the D pad” fielding system. It’s just pure arcade baseball, with little or no science involved in the actual gameplay.
The science that is involved doesn’t get in the way either. Each pitcher has a little chart alongside his name that kind of looks like a graph, and there are points that go towards the pitches that are better than others. Each hitter has a little bar that is red or blue on the opposite side of the numbers, which shows how much success each hitter has against left (blue) or right (red) handed pitchers. It really doesn’t matter anyway because you’re not ever going to strike out. Also, when your hitting, the big hitters always hit the ball further when the ball strikes the inner part of the bat. I could go on for hours.
All the teams from 1991 are available, in their four respective divisions to choose from, though Sega did not attain the MLB’s license to use the team logos or league names (their called “All-American” or “All-National”). Whatever, if that’s something I have to do without, its okay, and it’s better than not even having real players. Yes, the real players are there as well, complete with final stats from the 1991 regular season. That’s cool, though what’s not cool is how in the regular season mode, it doesn’t save your stats.
There are three modes of basic gameplay, and some may say that that’s a shortcoming. The three modes are: Exhibition Game, Pennant Race, and All-Star Game. They have the 1991 All-Star team as well on their rosters, but in the pennant race (known henceforth as “Regular Season Mode”), there isn’t any selection for the all-star teams. You just get stuck with the ones that are on there. What is cool about the regular season mode is the fact that you can play different sizes of seasons: 15, 30, 81 or the full 162 game season. NOW HEAR THIS! NOW HEAR THIS! It saves your games without an irritatingly long password.
Also, you can’t go this long without mentioning the Sports Talk! Yeah, there’s a fairly competent play-by-play man who looks and sounds like your grandpa invaded ESPN. It’s weird because in Joe Montana Sports Talk Football, the same voice is portrayed by a guy who looks like he’s in his mid-thirties. Most of the time, the voice doesn’t fall behind the gameplay. Sometimes, it’s hilarious to make it slow down by shifting your infield players in and out repeatedly (“Infield in, infield out, infield normal” heard thirty times in a row always makes me laugh for some reason). Other than that, the voice never gets in the way. (Another fun way to play with the voice thing: when there is no one on base, throw the ball to first base, have the first basemen run towards third, and before he gets to the pitcher, throw it back to first. It will go “OFF THE WALL!!” and the crowd goes nuts.)
However, there are some things that are irritating in this game. For some odd reason, there is a ten run rule. For those not baseball inclined, a ten run rule is a rule that if a team is up by ten runs or more at the end of an inning, then the game is over. In this game, it is fairly ridiculous, because it is quite possible to score ten to fifteen runs per inning, I have kept stats (in a notebook) for six 162 game seasons, and I have had over two hundred games(ish) that have ended early. Also, it is sometimes difficult to get any offense going unless you have an abundance of big hitters. It is also nearly impossible to strike anyone out or to be struck out. It is also very easy to tell what the pitch will be long before it reaches the plate, because every pitch looks and acts like that type of pitch every time, no matter how you throw it.
There are only three different ballparks, another minus, but one can only pack so much into one Genesis cartridge. There’s the obligatory domed stadium, which has medium depth and a medium amount of outfield. Then the night-time stadium features high fences with deep outfields to keep even the biggest of hitters under forty home runs a season, but speedy teams can thrive here doubling you to death. Then the final stadium, which is my favorite stadium, is the daytime one, which features a mostly dirt infield and shorter walls in the corners that can turn what would be a long fly out in either of the other two parks into a three run jack. When you start a season, they allow you to choose which stadium you play in, but the only one that’s worth it is the daytime one. Other teams play in the other ones, so I don’t see a need to play in the night time one or dome one.
The audio very dated. There is no sliding sound, and there is no catching sound. The only sounds in this game are the sounds of the ball hitting the bat and the sounds of the crowd and the PA. Plus grandpa. And the only music is in the beginning and sounds of 8-bit quality. But it’s no big deal, as no one plays baseball video games for their music.
Overall, Sports Talk Baseball is an absolute classic for the Genesis. No, it’s not god’s gift to baseball video games, or even god’s gift to the Genesis, but this game is just so much fun and you have to believe me on that one. If you see it in your retro gaming store for fewer than fifteen dollars (or euros, or whatever), certainly pick it up. It is totally worth an immense number of hours of play.
SCORE: 9 out of 10