Platform: Microsoft MSX computer
Controller: Keyboard or two-button joystick.
Baseball is a really popular sport in Japan, also the MSX computers. So it was logical that videogames of baseball appeared in MSX computers at the time. One of the first titles with these features was made by the Panasoft company, from which we have written prior entries about them.
This entry was the first they made, and for the time, was succesfully enough so the company tried more games.
A trademark of this company’s videogames are the simple control schema used to play them, so it’s quite easy to start a match without too much trouble learning what to do to properly play them. In this game in particular, it’s more about getting the pace and timing to bat, or where to throw being the pitcher.
The field is really good looking, but funny. Because to give a sense of depth, the outfielders look like Liliput’s inhabitants, while the batter looks like Gulliver. At the same time, all appear very tighted, like travelling in a metro carwagon. IMHO, this does not look too nice, but those were the times experimenting with ideas to give a sense of depth, and in this case, they made it.
To batting, I recommend watching carefully the catcher, because the curveballs are really wild. With that info in mind, it only took me 3 innings to get the pace for batting. The swing is made with one button, while the other sends a runner (if there is one in any base) to try a steal. As ussual in videogames of the time, is not possible to cancel the steal, so if the runner tries to steal is either out or safe at the next base.
The pitcher uses the same button used to bat, but in this case, to throw the pitch. It can throw awesome curveballs moving the controller horizontally. I, at least, was not able to perceive a significant difference moving the controller vertically, a common practice to increase or decrease the pitch in other videogames.
A probably involuntary funny feature is when there is a groundball, the infielders move really slow, I think that is to give a feeling of distance and depth. But the really funny part is when the fielder throws the ball to a desired base, the infielder disappears and suddenly reappears at its starting point while the ball goes to its final destination. This “teleportation” made me laugh really hard.
The pace was right for the time, although a bit tedious. The videogame offers two difficulty levels, AMA (amateur) and PRO (professional), I highly recommend start playing with AMA level, which is notoriously easier. Finally, two human videoplayers can match their skills.
There was a sequel called MSX Baseball II National which appeared a couple years laterque salió dos años después. Besides a change in the title screen to reflect the new game, it has a couple of novelties.
After the screen title, you can put the initial letter for both teams, it does not matter if the second team is played by a human or by the AI. Also you can change the batting order, but an option to let the game do it is available, so you can start a quick match.
The graphics are improved respect the first game, but it only has one difficulty level, which IMHO is the same as the PRO level. The virtual batter looks like to use a small club instead of a regular baseball bat, so batting is a bit harder. But the rest of the game’s features remain the same like the control schema, the colors and the mysterious “teleportation” of fielders.
I added an entry of this game just to complete all the games the Panasoft company made for MSX computers.
Honestly, I found the game a bit rudimentary, even for the time, looks a lot like Champion Baseball, which was really popular in the country of the rising sun. Fortunately, the AI is not as cheap as in that game. Recommended for a quick baseball match, but not more than that.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.