Home Run

Home RunBuy this gameThe Game: From the great American pastime to the great Atari pastime, the sport of baseball is boiled down to its bare essence in this early game for the Atari VCS. One or two players can play. In a one-player game, players start as the pitcher/outfielders (selecting different game variations will provide a different number of outfielders; the default is a single pitcher/outfielder), while the second player starts as the batter in two-player games. The rules are simple: three strikes mean you’re out, three outs mean it’s time to change sides, the player who gets more little digital dudes across home plate wins. (Atari, 1978)

Memories: In the context of RCA‘s Studio II Baseball cartridge, Home Run is actually quite the improvement. Rather than abstract rectangles and squares, Home Run‘s baseball players actually look, well, humanoid. But much like its predecessor, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Home Run wasn’t that much of a home run.

Home RunPlayers who aren’t up to bat should prepare for frustration, because palying the pitcher/outfielder side of Home Run is fully loaded with futility. The outfielders are “boxed in” by an invisible boundary, reducing their effectiveness greatly. After the computerized crack of the bat, both the ball and the runners virtually always move faster than the outfield can. Catching a ball in the outfield is a highly unlikely proposition. (But naturally, upon switching sides, the computer’s outfielders are much quicker: Home Run can be woefully 2 quartersone-sided unless played with two human players.)

Still, in 1978, there were few options in the nascent video sports game field, and Home Run was added to many an Atari VCS owner’s shelf, its faults forgiven until the next big thing came along in video baseball, forcing Atari to regroup before it stepped up to the plate again.