Review by Psycho Penguin
"Wow, a great baseball game on NES. That's as rare as a Yankee with heart."
In my current quest to play and review every baseball game ever made on the NES, I stumbled upon a game called Baseball Simulator 1.000. Of course, I didn't think much of it at first. I just thought it would be another hapless attempt at making a baseball game. Most of the games I had played at the time were really not that good. Fortunately, Culture Brain actually managed to make a deep and satisfying gameplay experience that I rather enjoyed, as they actually went back to basics and made the game easy to play.
You see, most baseball games out there for the NES have a bad camera that prevents you from properly seeing where the ball was going to land. Even the great Baseball Stars sometimes suffered from this major problem. However, much to my delight, Baseball Simulator 1.000 has an excellent camera. When the ball is hit, it is automatically sent into a fixed camera posisition that allows you to clearly see where your players are and where the ball is going and landing. This gives you ample time to get in position to catch the ball. What a concept, eh?
This makes the art of defense much easier now. Instead of having to play a guessing game 80 percent of the time, you can clearly allow yourself to make plays now. Ground balls won't necessarily be safe, either, as you can easily execute plays to 1st base. I even managed to sneak in a few double plays in balls hit to my shortstop. The only problem I really have here is how weak some of the players throw.. shortstops and 3rd basemen have a real problem throwing the ball to 1st base, and outfielders have problems throwing the ball to the infield. And with the fact it's hard to properly aim cut off men and put them in position, it becomes a little harder to throw out people at the plate.
However, these are minor complaints in an excellent baseball game. Pitching and hitting is simple, although it's pretty much a lot like a lot of other baseball games out there. You still don't get the option to choose the kind of pitch you want to throw, or the type of at-bat you want, but overall it's as smooth and effortless as I could have possibly asked for. It is sometimes hard to determine what is a ball and what is a strike, and your opponent will always have that magical ability to not swing at anything outside the strike zone (and hit anything inside of it), so throwing lots of strikeouts will be a problem.
In addition to the fantastic in-game gameplay, Baseball Simulator 1.000 happens to be the deepest baseball game on NES. You get a 165 game season as an option, where you can develop pitchers, set rosters, etc. The key to surviving the season is managing your pitchers correctly, just like in real life baseball. If you throw the same pitcher all the time, he won't have anything left for the playoffs (if you get there). This provides a remarkable amount of depth to an already stellar game.
The problem happens to be that the rosters are a tad limited, and hard to get through. It's really hard to determine how good a pitcher is, because all you get to see is his ERA, even when he comes in the game. As we all know, ERA is not the be-all, tell-all of how good a pitcher is. Sometimes you need a power pitcher, and sometimes you need a breaking ball pitcher, and sadly you can't really determine who is who until you bring them into the game. Unless you have really good memory skills. That's just a minor problem, however.
You get a choice of 15 teams to choose from, including 10 major league cities and 5 special made up teams. You can even choose the type of stadium you want to play in. Everything from outer space to a dome is at your disposal. If you ever wanted to play a baseball game on the moon, now is your chance. The lack of gravity really makes for an outstandingly fun game, that's for sure. This is just another thing that makes this game such a classic.
Statistics are another thing that makes this game so deep and fun. In games, you can get a truckload of statistics shown to you on the scoreboard.. in addition to the normal runs and hits and errors, you can see everything from how many at-bats the team has, to how many strikeouts, singles, doubles, etc. they have. This gives the game a competitive edge over its rivals on NES.. most of them rely on simple arcadey action, while this one goes into more complex simulation and the statistical side of the game. Which I am thrilled with, since I am a big fan of baseball statistics for the most part.
The best part about the game, however, is how easy it is to control. Like I mentioned previously, outs are easier to record because the camera focuses in an overhead view the entire time, making it easier to position your players for catches. Aiming the ball is still an iffy concept.. when you throw a ball from the outfield, it will seemingly go wherever it wants to go, regardless of where you asked for it to go. However, that is a relatively minor complaint, because this game easily has controls up there with Baseball Stars, but a better camera puts it ahead of the pack.
The game has nice graphics, but nothing too revolutionary. The crowd is the best part, as it actually flashes happily when you hit a home run, followed by fireworks. That's the best part of the graphics. Otherwise, it's your typical baseball stuff. The player models are solid, but nothing revolutionary. They're not midgets, but they're not huge, either. The stadium models are excellent, however, as the field is easy to see, and the variety of the stadiums is outstanding. The domed stadium definitely looks different than the harbor stadium, for instance.
Baseball Simulator 1.000 relies on in-game music to get the action across, but fortunately it will never get on your nerves. The music has a nice variety to it and actually changes throughout innings. It even changes once you get runners in scoring position. One of the songs is a little annoying at times, but for the most part, you won't find yourself reaching for the mute button on your remote control. The sound effects are pretty solid, although limited. The crowd cheering and fireworks definitely highlight an otherwise limited, and average, selection of sounds.
There's not really much of a challenge level to Baseball Simulator, and I mean that in a good way. The challenges you face lie simply in outplaying the other team, not in trying to find the ball as it pops into the outfield. This is the way baseball was meant to be played, and I am definitely happy that outs are easy to record in this game. It's somewhat challenging to pitch, though, as batters have a remarkable tendency to lay off anything in the strike zone. The game can be challenging, but only for the right reasons.
I find myself drawn to this game more than any other baseball game on the NES, even Baseball Stars. The 165-game season is the big reason for the lots of replay value this game offers. You will find yourself hooked for a long while if you decide to go down that route. But even if you just play games for fun, you will be enthralled with the variety and fun factor the game offers. The camera is really the selling point of the game, and due to the fact it's so easy to see everything, you will find yourself coming to this game more than crap like Bases Loaded 3 or MLB.
I can't say enough positive things about this game. I didn't expect to find such a great game, even though I've heard many people call it their favorite baseball game on NES. I didn't think anything could top Baseball Stars, but this game barely tops it, due to the variety of stadiums, a season mode, a great camera that makes getting outs easier than ever, and more. Those looking for a deep baseball game on NES that also manages to be lots of fun should look no further than this lost treasure. It's easily one of the best sports games out there.
And this is coming from Culture Brain, who's made about 2 games I've ever heard of. Amazing.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/30/03
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