Genre: Sports Developer: Stormfront Studios Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1 Released: 1993
Let’s face it, EA just sucks at baseball games. Besides one really truly great game in MVP Baseball 2005 (the one with Manny Ramirez on the cover), it really hasn’t ever perfected a home run baseball game to this date (maybe that is some clue as to why it stopped trying and took over football games, ala the Borg) so why would you think a guy like me would want to review the first baseball game EA put out for Genesis?
Let me first start out by telling you about Tony LaRussa. He is certainly a first ballot hall of fame manager, and he has had memorable stints with the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A’s during their bash brothers years, and now he is with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has made a great impact on the game of baseball and is arguably on the list of the top ten managers of all time. His games had a loyal following on the PCs of the time, so I guess EA thought it might try to step in the somewhat fertile and growing Genesis baseball market in 1993.
Unfortunately, this game is just beyond bad. It tries to fool you at first by having a beautiful menu and Ron Barr. Oh, you tricky, tricky Ron Barr. Anyway, the menus are very well done and attractive. That’s the best thing about this game… the menus. Does it tell you anything about the gameplay? Anyway, there are some deep options in the menu, including “build your own all-star team.” It takes too long, but it’s a good idea. Enough of this fluff, though, let’s play some baseball!
After you pick your teams, you only get a choice of grass, artificial turf fields, or a domed stadium. There are no real stadiums, though the ballparks the game uses parks that at least look like those that were around at the time, like Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, County Stadium in Milwaukee, or the SkyDome in Toronto. After that, you can turn injuries on or off (don’t you wish you could do that in your beer league softball every weekend!?), as well as the designated hitter.
So, you’re out on the field and it’s ninety-five degrees out. The national anthem plays when the whole team is on the baseline, and the ball game is about to begin! Too bad it’s. all. moving. in. slow. motion. What’s my number one quip about a game!? Can you freakin’ play it? Well the answer is… kind of. The players run (and the pitchers pitch) like they are missing a few sprites, and it’s quite irritating. It’s like it’s not very smooth enough.
But, the presentation is nice, like I stated before. The screen has a score, batting average, ERA, field mini map and balls, strikes, outs counter, the whole shebang. Also, I think this game has as wide, if not maybe a slightly wider of a view of the field than World Series Baseball. To compensate, the camera zooms in when you are up to bat. However, it is probably just as useful if you didn’t.
Which leads me to the biggest point of the game: It’s choppy. It’s choppy as all heck, and I think that without the blatant choppiness we could have a good game on our hands. But I think I want to talk about the pitching and batting controls first. They seem to have that World Series Baseball style of control, where you select what you want to pitch, and instead of speed you select the area of the pitch. Now, the area of this pitch is really general, and I found that many times I’d hit the direction, and nothing happened. I’d do it again, and then it goes way out in the direction that I pressed. Miraculously, it never led me to too many walks.
Another thing that is odd is the fielder selection, or the lack thereof. It’s automatic! Sometimes it can be a help, but there are always those times that you’ve got a fielder going in one direction towards the ball, the computer gives the control to the other guy, and he runs in the opposite direction. I think they keep the field small enough that this doesn’t cause a huge problem like in other games. I also don’t really understand the tips from LaRussa, they work in real baseball, but they’re not particularly useful here.
If you were to sit down at a bar with me and ask me what I thought of Tony LaRussa Baseball, I wouldn’t get “throw the bar stool at you” mad, but you would make me rather grumpy. I just don’t like this game very much, and it’s just not very good. We don’t have enough room in our collections for mediocre EA Sports games, let alone a baseball one.
Just stick to MVP Baseball 2005 for PS2 or Xbox (not backwards compatible, if you were wondering); it’s a lot more worthwhile. Mark Bussler of Classic Game Room got it right when he said: “can’t we use old EA Sports cartridges to plug up the oil spill in the gulf coast?.” Had he spoken about Bill Walsh College Football, I would have blown a blood vessel. This game, not so much.
SCORE: 3 out of 10