Stage Select readers are in for something really rare from me today: yep, I'm actually reviewing a sports game, of all things.
Not that I HAVE anything against sports, I just don't care for them nowadays...after all, when I was a little kid, I swam on a local swim team for five years, played baseball for five, messed around a little with gymnastics and track, and played a year of soccer and basketball (had
to do something with all that energy, I guess). Also, I'll probably occasionally do a review of a racing or maybe even a hockey video game here and there (one of the few sports I'm somewhat almost interested in), but as far as something like baseball or football sports games? Yeah, don't hold your breath on THAT happening again any time soon.
The reason for this review is to how killer this game was when it came out: the Atari 2600 was under attack by that mean old fart George Plimpton in the Intellivision tv and print ads showing how the Intellivision blew away the 2600, and I'll get into the reasons why.
First off, the baseball field actually looks like one, unlike the very barren Atari Home Run "baseball" game (more or less) for the 2600. The graphics were really good on this one in the day and the stats of pitches, outs and runs are large and easy to read. The game even TALKED, too...or did it? As a friend of mine pointed out, the words "you're out" would appear as they were being "spoken" (or not?) to only make it appear like the game was actually talking. I guess it could go either way (whether it really talked or not), as Intellivision would later build a state-of-the-art recording studio for their Intellivoice module a few years later, yet most of the games that used the voice sounded like they were recorded in a toilet, as voice synthesis was really new back then, and it was difficult to sound good at the time.
However, what really mattered for this game was the simplicity of being able to control your team, as you used the Intellivision's numbered keypad on the controllers to select what team member to do whatever job needed to be done. So no more using a combination of moves and/or pressing the joystick button to try to accomplish something (like for pretty much any beat 'em up game from Mortal Kombat onwards), which would probably end up not working half the time, none of controlling most (or all) of the team at the same time (rather than individually) by using the joystick (again, like in Home Run), and especially none of the dreaded using two controllers at once crap either (like Raiders of the Lost Ark for the same system).
Granted, the game isn't perfect, though: even though controlling players on the field is a snap, getting runners to move with that blasted Intellivision "action disc" is another story. The game is also two player only, like most Intellivision sports games are. So good luck trying to find another player who isn't sick to death of this game (since it's one of the most common Intellivision titles out there) or who can make some good use of the damn action disc.
However, due to it's popularity and the burn-in on tvs at Sears from having it on display all day long when it was first released, I think that pretty much sums up my feelings about this game...and a sports game too, at that.
And by the way, Mr. Plimpton, I hope you're having a good time burning in hell.
(Just kidding, of course.)