The Game: Baseball returns to the small screen – the very small screen – on the Game Boy. Step up to the plate and take a swing; after three outs, take control of the pitcher, basemen and outfield, trying to keep the computer from scoring a run. (Nintendo, 1989)
Memories: If Baseball! on the Odyssey2 was my favorite iteration of baseball as a video game during the 1980s, Nintendo‘s Baseball was my favorite of the late ’80s and ’90s. I remember spending a lot of quality time with this game on my first Game Boy – and most of that time was fun and challenging rather than frustrating, placing this well above quite a few baseball video games.
If there’s a catch to this otherwise excellent baseball game, it’s the agonizingly (and, after a while, amusingly) slow wait for the ball to get where it’s going in the outfield – whether it lands soundly in an outfielder’s mitt or just on the ground somewhere, it takes a while to arrive, and then it seems like the fielders are moving in slow motion to retrieve the thing and send it where it needs to go to send someone back to the dugout. (Actually, real players would probably say that these moments move in slow motion too, so it’s probably dead-on accurate.)
The changes of “camera angle” don’t disrupt the game – they enhance it. And there’s always a handy “runners on base” graphic in one corner of the screen to keep track of the big picture. The look and feel of the game are extraordinarily well thought-out.
If there’s a drawback to Nintendo’s Baseball – and this is scary in light of the fact that this was one of the earliest Game Boy releases – it’s that baseball on a video game system, handheld or otherwise, wouldn’t be this much pure, simple fun again until a much later Nintendo platform came along.