Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
£24.99; 2 players
Once on the plate, Bob realises that he's got legs like a chicken.
CRACK! The ball sings off the bat. Oof! The pitcher catches it in his mouth.
Now then, here's another minority sport...
Again, you have the choice of playing a human or Sega-shaped player, and before you start, you get to select your team from those in the two main leagues, 'A' or 'N'. (?) Then you get to select your pitchers, their speciality ball (pardon?) and knuckleball (er, pardon?), and set their stamina level.
Both teams alternate between batting and fielding over nine innings, each inning lasting until the batting team have had three men 'out'. Basically you have to hit the ball far enough so the fielding team can't catch it (you're out), throw it the base you’re running to (you're out again), or touch you with the ball (you're out again). If you do manage to run all the way round the bases and return to the home plate you score a whole point (yes, as much as that).
The main screen shows the batter and pitcher. The pitching player gets to choose from four styles of shot (curve left, curve right, fast ball or speciality) by pushing the joystick in one of the four directions while pressing the fire button. The batter tries to hit the ball by wildly swinging his bat in front of him. If he misses, a 'strike' is awarded and the pitcher throws again. Three strikes and yeerrrrrr out!
The fun really starts when you get a successful hit, when the screen switches to an overhead view. This is where the fielders kick into gear, chasing after the ball to pick it up or catch it. The fielding player then tells the fielder which base to throw it to, using the joystick and fire button. You try to catch the ball, fetch it or throw it, and if you can do any of these things you stand a chance to get the batting player totally out.
Great Baseball's graphics are never going to win any prizes for realism or animation, but they're very clear and at least let you know exactly what's going on.
There's very little actual sound except for overall white noise crowd cheer, and the thwack of ball on bat or glove. You do have a few snippets of sampled speech, though, to liven things up. 'Ball', 'safe', 'out' and 'strike' are clear enough, but just what it says when a ball goes out-of-bounds is anybody's guess! Sounds like 'shchischitchisch'. That's a close approximation, anyway.
In between rounds there's an annoying pause while the Sega waits for you to stop fiddling with the joystick and then slaps up a pointless list of the batting team's statistics (if there's a new batter coming to the plate). Stats are boring if you understand them, so what chance do we stand of enjoying them? Other than this it's all rather painless, and adequately - if plainly - handled.
Even though it has been superseded by the newer and more impressive American Baseball, Great Baseball still offers a decent game and is really all most people would want from a baseball sim. If that extra fiver means a lot to you, and you don't mind a no-frills version of the sport, then GB is the one to go for. (Not that baseball players ever wear frills, but you get the idea.)
A little confusing in the heat of the action, but easy to pick up and play. (Put in in the console first tho'.)
Nice and colourful, but with slightly j-j-jerky animation on the pitcher and batter.
Plenty of decent samples, with some adequate tunes.
Timing your shots is everything when your batting, and you have to quick thinking to get the ball to the right base!
Pretty much hit and hope! You get to choose your pitchers and pitching styles though.
Intense two-player action, and the Sega puts up a pretty good fight, too!
Good, playable version of the sport plenty of fun in two-player mode.