Company: Electronic Arts
Platform: Commodore Amiga
Controller: Keyboard or joystick
Baseball, a very popular sport during 70s and 80s had a quite library of videogames in home consoles, and in personal computers, but split in two main categories: The arcade ones where the videoplayer did everything from pitching, batting and fielding. And the simulation ones, where the videoplayer played either the role of manager, calling the plays, but depending on what happened in the field.
The programmers Don Daglow (a living legend making baseball videogames) and Eddie Dombrower create for the company Electronic Arts a curious hybrid between the two categories, incorporating advises from the legendary baseball manager Earl Weaver for the Artificial Intelligence of the game. The end result was a very revolutionary game for its time.
As already mentioned, there are two possible ways to play a baseball match in this videogame. Because of this, the learning curve of how to play the game is considerably high compared to other games either arcade or simulation. Fortunately, the videogame provides tutorials on how to bat, pitch and even fielding, in case you want to play arcade-style, highly recommended during the first times to play a match in this videogame.
Independently of the gamemode selected, there are options common to both of them, like:
- Selecting teams with rosters and different skills. The game, by default, provides a few teams All-Star for decades prior to 1980 from both National and American leagues.
- Selecting different stadiums, where graphically you can see significant differences. For example, the field from Boston has the legendary “Green Monster” in the left field, and this hampers the amount of homeruns in games played there.
- It’s possible to choose the mode of the pitching: choosing every pitch, or only the defining one, like the videogame MicroLeague Baseball. This only apply in simulation gamemode.
- The difficulty level for the AI-managed team can vary between four different values. I recommed beginning playing with the lowest level, called Sandlot.
- It’s possible to ask for advice to Earl Weaver in offense or in deffense. It’s offer really interesting advises, there was a reason its knowledge was incorporated in the game.
- In close plays, it’s possible to send the manager to argue with the umpire, being the funniest part hearing the umpire shouting Out and/or Safe.
- Speaking of sound, specially in the Amiga port, it has a very advanced for the time, synthesized voice, where every player is called by name and it’s clearly heard when at bat..
It can be a bit tired starting a game in arcade gamemode, and yet, the game is quite enjoyable. But where the videogame really shines is the gamemode manager. The amount of options to modify is very high, from creating teams or players, to changing the skills of them. The amount of options of called plays was huge for the time and, even now, the pace of the game is formidable. Even if in real-time passed a good amount of minutes. You have to consider that when playing a full season. This includes the satisfaction when a plan works out, or the frustation when there are errors.
Oh yeah, there are errors, even situation relatively scarse like runners trying to advance bases in really close situations where even an experienced human player will consider going for the next base or not.
Aside from getting disks with data for other seasons, a Comissioner Disk was provided so the videoplayer could edit more data in the game, like color skin of the players.
It’s possible to play it with keyboard, mouse or joystick, although the last one is only recommended for arcade gamemode. Particularly, I was not comfortable playing it with a mouse, although I know is a very popular choice.
The game was also ported to the following platforms:
- Apple II
- MS-DOS PC compatible
Amazingly, there were no sequels for the Amiga computer, only for MS-DOS computers. However, many of the features introduced in this videogame are still used in current baseball videogames.
Outstanding videogame, probably unknown in Mexico due to the little popularity of the Commodore Amiga computers, but definitely paved a way in baseball videogaming. It’s a legend that is one of the few games people still has functioning Amiga computers to this day, so they can play it in all it’s original glory.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.
Also recognition to intric8, admin of the great site AmigaLove, dedicated to the memory of this powerful computer, who helped me with some instructions to properly use the game.