Jobu reviews another classic Super Nintendo sports game.
Earlier this week we debuted this new series. I will be taking advantage of the Super Nintendo gifted to me by the ever so generous Dr. Draft, not just for my own entertainment, but to provide you readers with entertainment as well. This edition of the Retro Game Review is dedicated to a game that my friends an I have been playing for years… Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. In my opinion, it’s a total classic that I might play until I’m 1.000. Here we go.
Let’s start with a little history. On October 5, 1980, a little company named Culture Brain was founded in Japan. They began as an arcade game developer and publisher, but quickly moved into the home console business (it’s where the money is). At one point, Culture Brain grew large enough to have a base in the United States, but moved back to Japan in the 1990s. Nowadays, they mostly make Japan-only games, but in 1989, they kicked off the Baseball Simulator series on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game was very highly received, and two years later it made it’s way to the Super Nintendo, which is the system on which I discovered the series.
So what’s so special about this game? Well, it’s not just a regular baseball game. It’s actually ironic that it’s called Baseball Simulator, because it’s not at all realistic. In fact, if Bud Selig were to pick up this game, he’d wretch his toupee right off of his own head, and his false wooden teeth would fall on the floor. The game is PED central! Now, before you call Japan to complain and run up your phone bill, let me explain. The game has four leagues, but I pretty much ignore the first three, because the last one is the Ultra League. In the Ultra League, every player has his own special power up! Batters, pitchers and fielders can use these performance enhancing power ups (let’s call them PEPUs) to have all sorts of wacky effects on the ball. They include, but are not limited to, the following (guessing on these names):
Bomb Ball: This one is fun, because it causes death. OK not really, but this ball is uncatchable, causing an explosion in the glove of any poor sap that tries to catch it.
Rocket Ball: Don’t get in the way of this laser line drive, because it will carry you all the way to the outfield fence. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a shortstop end up flattened on the left-center field wall.
Super Speed: This makes the batter basically impossible to throw out on a ground ball, as he will reach first base in about half a second.
Squirrel Ball: Once this ball touches the ground, hilarity ensues, as it bounces in every direction except for towards your infielder.
Leaf Ball: The worst power up in the whole game. Midway through it’s flight, this ball turns into a leaf and floats down. The results for this are bad 90% of the time, as you see your would-be homers float down to the shortstop for easy outs. Bullshit! Why do I keep using this??
Photon Ball: This lets you uncork a fastball that touches about 190mph. Good luck hitting that one.
Stop Ball: This ball can be stopped on it’s way to the plate (just hit the pitch button again), which creates a lot of funny Bugs Bunny moments where the batter swings multiple times at the same pitch.
Fire Ball: This ball is surrounded by flames, and goes a lot faster than anything normal pitchers throw.
Those are just some examples of what you can do with the game. You can set limits to how many PEPUs, but what the hell’s the fun in that? Bud Selig never did in the 1990s (hyoooooo). Maybe A-Rod’s lawyers can use this game as an example of the drug culture created by the MLB in the 90s… “Your honor, pitchers are out there throwing 200mph, balls surrounded by lightning and balls that disappear on their way to the plate! How is my client supposed to keep up with that? Clearly he had to juice!” Seriously though, you know if A-Rod could have taken something to make him hit a ball that disappears mid flight and doesn’t reappear again until it’s in the outfield, you know he would have.
Anyway, onto the gameplay. This is the way my buddies and I play: Both users pick an ultra team, and we set the PEPU limit to “unlimited.” However, in the interest of fun, we do not allow the usage of pitching power ups. You can pitch well enough to get powered up hitters out, but unlimited power pitches would make for a lot of boring, action-free games, so they’re banned. Those are pretty much our rules… pretty complicated, right? Did I mention we’re pretty much always drinking when we play this game? Trick question. I shouldn’t have to state the obvious.
If you’re a friendless loser, you can definitely play this game on your own too. It still holds up. In fact, it’s got a season mode that keeps your standings and all of your player stats too, which is pretty darn cool (I do that during the week, when I’m a friendless loser). Seasons can be anywhere from 5 to 165 games, and you can choose any of the four leagues and use any of the game’s different stadiums as your home field. I just played a game by myself the other night, and it was still a lot of fun. I wasn’t even drinking. However, like pretty much every old school video game you play when you’re 30, it’s better with some buddies and some brews. My girlfriend (yes, I still play SNES and I have a sexy hot lady) actually came into the Man Cave while I was testing out the copy I bought on Ebay and asked me how I could still like this game when I have access to PS3 games that are so realistic. I told her it’s very simple. You see the ball, you hit the ball. It’s an easy game you can pick up after years and years and still enjoy. There’s something to be said for simple fun. That’s what this game is.
We’re also debuting our new ratings system, Jobu’s Shots. We’ll be rating games by giving them 0-5 shots, depending on how good I think they are. Here’s the score for this game:
Go play it. I give it 5 shots out of 5.
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