Plataform: Sega Master System
Other names: American Baseball (Europe and Brazil)
Controller: Default of the console
Sega, after developing many videogames for arcades, some of them considered true classics, try to enter during mid 80s to the console market, being their third iteration the Master System to compete head-on with the by-then king: The Nintendo NES.
Everyone hoped that a baseball videogame had to be included in their catalog of titles. However, competing against a really powerful catalog offered by the direct competitor, was a Major League effort.
After a year of retirement, they landed the license of use the name of legendary slugger Reggie Jackson and create a very good videogame for this console.
The videogame implements a control schema already standarized for baseball videogames, so it won’t be explained again. Taking that solid foundation, introduces new features, some being really funny.
The first one is the game managed to land the license to use names and colors of the 26 teams of Major League Baseball at the time (what a time, two teams in Canada, 14 in one league, 12 in other, uniforms still psychodelic), even the faces of the managers are well drawn. But not the license to use the players’ names, so fictious names are used instead.
The interface to bat and pitch is clear enough, but I struggled a bit to properly hit. However, when you get the rhytm it becomes intuitive enough. The pitches are also intuitive and the umpire is really strict to concede strikes to both teams.
Before starting a match, you can choose from 4 distinct modes: Exhibiton game (recommended at first), a tournament looking for a champion, a simulated match between two AI-managed teams and finally, a home-run derby. In the first two modes, you can choose between automatically moving the fielders, or manually. Highly recommended the auto setting, because manually fielding high-balls is complicated at first, because the intended shadow of the ball deceives a lot.
A hilarious detail is when a pitcher beanballs a batter. First the batter is taken away by paramedics, then the bench clear and later, suddenly, the batter recovers and walks joyfully towards first base.
Other interesting feature is all the activity happending between the first (or third) base and the spectators: going from mascots in the field, players warming up, the batter in the batter hole, coaches and even cheerleaders. I must praise the animation of these elements, because they are fluid, looks good and do not distract. They give a funny touch to the videogame.
Finally, maybe the feature this videogame is most known for. At random, the color of the field is determined. That’s right, even when green is the most common, you can find yourself playing in a red or yellow field. These two made the game looks like playing in a backyard or the desert, instead of playing in a Major League stadium. Only the holes from beavers are missing to harm players.
The AI is a really good challenger, but not better than an old-fashioned duel between humans. Even in that situation, I highly recommend using the Auto fielding setting for a more balanced game, and funny.
Music is catchy, and the one for high balls can stay in your mind for a bit longer after stopping playing the game.
It’s interesing to note that just like Atari, this console did not have really shining sport videogames. Actually there is a joke that if the title starts with “Great” is quite the opposite. But eventually good titles were produced.
Actually, the pace of the videogame is really good, not frenzied, but at least not feels dragging.
This title particularly had a really impossible mission competing against titles like Family Stadium o Bases Loaded for the Nintendo NES. However this title is quite acceptable, and it’s worthwhile to take a hit at it, even when you think the game is played at a turf in the desert.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.