Genre: Sports Developer: BlueSky Software Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1995
1995 was a terrible year for Detroit Tiger baseball, as they went 60-84 in a strike/lockout-shortened year. The Red Wings, who happened to also be owned by the same man who owns the Tigers, were on the rise and my beloved Tigers were on their way down. No longer was Sparky getting it done, Lou Whitaker was in his last year and Kirk Gibson was signed to finish out his career as a Detroit Tiger. It was a downtrodden time to be a Tiger fan, as even the historic Tiger Stadium was being looked at like “a big warehouse where a major league team plays” rather than the historic and majestic home of the Tigers I love so much. Everything felt worn out, like an old shoe, as the Tigers faded out of playoff contention in June. So, in a year where everything stunk about being a Tiger fan, why would I want to play a baseball game based in 1995?
Needless to say, I didn’t. All of the neighborhood kids were wearing their Wings gear while I was simply excited to drive four hours across the state just to see the Tigers play the Royals (they lost, it wasn’t even close) and find a Lou Whitaker card lodged in the storm drain on the way into the left field stands. But I digress. World Series Baseball ’95 was obviously never on my radar until a few years ago when I got it in a lot of games somewhere for probably pennies on the dollar, and if it isn’t the best-looking Genesis baseball game, I don’t know what is. Everything down to the scoreboard-based pause menu just looks tremendous. Every stadium is nearly perfectly detailed as much as it could be in 16-bit. Of course, to many younger gamers, the player animations are a wee bit watered down compared to today’s tremendous looking MLB 2K series, but trust me, they are great for this game.
The opening little Sega Sports logo is very neat, the last few bars of the national anthem are played, and then this rockin’ beat comes in. I’m like yeah! I want to play this game! There are an immense amount of options here. There were no expenses spared; Sega wanted you to play it, for sure. There are almost too many options to choose from! The menus are very clear, but the controls in the options are a bit awkward and hard to get used to. Supposedly, there are two different types of the home run derby included too. I guess too many options are better than too few.
Once you’ve sorted through the millions of options, you can choose your teams and get on the field. Even the screen where either team will be player controlled is cool! When you get on the field, you will notice what makes WSB ’95 a home run. The field and stadiums look almost like the real thing! I think for one thing, that the scale of these stadiums is what makes it all so good. Most baseball games for the Genesis either don’t show the right perspective (the angle is too high or too low), or they aren’t real, or they are teeny, little bandboxes and they’re not real (see Sports Talk Baseball). The player animations are very smooth for the most part, and the animation is good and doesn’t try to look more than it can be. I think it was kind of ingenious of Sega to keep the camera far enough away so the players are still controllable, yet they don’t look bad by being either too big or too small. In the other view, the players are generalized but still look good.
The audio is quite decent as well. The announcing doesn’t slow anything down. In fact, I think it works very well. It just says, “strike one” and so on. The announcing on the field is a bit different, giving just a snippet like “and he drops it over the infield” and funny ones such as “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!” or “Outta Here!.” There is a stadium wide PA announcing which batter is up (by number only). It’s very well done and I like it.
The controls are as difficult as a knuckleball and require a lot of getting used to and a lot of looking at the manual. There’s also a great need to consult your coaches, with all the weird signs, crotch grabs, and such. When you are pitching, you select your location and then select one of three pitches and the speed: slow medium or fast. It takes some getting used to, but just like in the real game you can get into a rhythm. Batting is similar, with A being the “contact” button when you just have to make contact (on an 0-2 count with two outs per se), B is the “normal” button, and C is the “Cecil Fielder” button (actually it’s just the power swing).
I tend to hit C too fast with too many players, but if you pause the game, you can go back and start it over again. There is a bit of strategy here as well. Faster, weaker hitting players will be better off using the regular swing and timing the pitches right to get doubles and triples, which leads me to my next point: You really feel like you are hitting what you are hitting in this game! It just feels so authentic, like you are really hitting it the distance it is traveling unlike in the RBI games where you can go and make a sandwich and the ball will still be in the air when you get back to the T.V. The pitches almost seem too fast and seem to move across the entire strike zone, so pitchers who have pitches that curve, slide or sink can’t aim anywhere except the top or sides of the strike zone for any effectiveness. It takes some getting used to, but just like in real life, if you keep your eye on the ball you can hit it fairly easily.
If there is one thing I don’t like, it’s how long it takes to play a game. It takes forever and a day to finish a game in World Series Baseball ’95 compared to other baseball titles on the Genesis, including the aforementioned Sports Talk Baseball. So, you won’t end up playing a marathon of WSB ’95. It’s one of those games that no one will go “Yeah, World Series Baseball ’95, I play that every day, man!” But it’s fun, and it’s cheap. Also, it is very beer-friendly for those of us who like to buy a six pack of Coors Light and retreat into the basement with our friends and play some ball on a rainy July evening.
I think that the game’s graphics are some of the best of any game on the system and its fluid fielding and the feeling you get when you hit a home run are just spectacular, much unlike the ill vibes of my 1995 Detroit Tigers. World Series Baseball ’95 feels more like this or of this one, and that’s what feelings I think good baseball games like this one should emit. It’s that feeling of BLESS! YOU! BOYS!
SCORE: 8 out of 10