Monday, January 12, 2009

Classic NES Review: Baseball Stars

I’ve been thinking nostalgic thoughts. I loved the Nintendo, why not blog about something Nintendo-ie. Everyone is using and talking about the Wii, so lets talk old school, nostalgic. I think I will review old NES games, not regularly, but at random. Or more accurately when I feel like it, I will even try and nab some screen shots.


Ah the Nintendo, I remember mowing yards to get enough money to buy games at the pawn shop for my NES. Now in this computer savvy age an emulator and roms could of saved me hundreds of dollars. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. And paying 20 bucks, (TWENTY!!!!), for a game made you play even if it sucked. Especially if you mowed four huge yards to get that game.


So what should I choose first. I am a huge Mario fan. I loved Legend of Zelda. First one should be something great, something I played the hell out of, yet semi obscure.





Baseball Stars.






I was wavering between this, a game I liked, and another game, one I disliked. So Baseball Stars for the NES wins. I can still see the yellow label with the white and red striped uniformed man cracking one out of the park on the front. I spent many, many, many hours on this game.
So lets talk about Baseball Stars. It is a baseball game, a great game. It is a simple pitch and hit game with the ability to steal bases and field the ball.


Pitching is easy, each direction on the direction pad make the ball curve, down lets you rocket it, up slows it down. In fact up may slow it down so fast it hits the ground right before the plate, making it impossible to hit. The computer would recognize this and not swing, taking a ball, after you threw a dozen of them. But to the human player this pitch sucked, sometimes it dropped sometimes it didn’t, and it could go right down the plate. Who can resist swinging at a meat pitch right down the smacker?


Hitting is cake. You swing when the ball is over the plate. You swing late and you pull it to the opposite field, too soon and to the strong field, just right and down the middle. You can actually learn to send line drives down opposite lines to take advantage of a slow fielder if you play enough. You can move back and forth in the batter box, making you swing later or sooner to connect. You can bunt, but why? When is it ever that important to advance a runner when you have a chance to hit a dinger? The games physics is excellent for an older game. A power hitter won’t bash a homerun every time at the plate, every five or six trips he will smash one. Also you get hot and cold. I don’t’ know how this was programmed, but you can get red hot with a good team and ice cold. Red hot you can smash six homers in a row with ease, cold you can go innings with out a decent shot.


Another great thing with baseball stars is the ten run rule. If your are destroying a team at the end of the inning by ten or more runs the game is called. This is great for ending a game early with a team you are destroying,. This is also great is you decided to take your rookie team against the American Dreams, and they are pummeling you.


But away from the fun of pitching and hitting, is fielding. Fielding is easy, you move to where the shadow of the ball is, or where the ball actually is. Catching is just being under it, you can also dive and jump to grab a ball. If you are really good you can climb the wall and rob a homerun. Fielding is so natural and easy that it is fun. Also your player reacts according to stats, a slow player is slow, a player with low defense can’t rocket the ball from the centerfield wall to home plate.


You can also change your line ups. By hiring, and firing players is a permanent way. But you can pull bench players and stick them in the line up, or as pinch hitters. Game is on the line and the pitcher comes up to bat, crap time to call in Guns McGee. Also occasionally you may want to move positions, move speed around to beat a right handed team versus a left team.


The game doesn’t have a story mode, but you can set up a league. I used to set up a large league and then create my own playoffs by setting up individual small leagues after the first large league was done. That was confusing. But you can set up leagues, or play individual games. The real goal of the game is to make your players and team better.


What is better than making your team? Yes name it, pick a logo, and play ball. I made the Iowa Cocks so many times with the rooster mascot it isn’t funny. Also think about making a crappy team, maybe calling it Ex-Wife Ho-Bags just to beat to make yourself feel a little better.


But I can tell you what is better than making your team. Managing it. Hire new players with lot of potential, fire old players with old potential. Players have stats, hitting, batting (power), speed, defense, luck, and prestige. Pitchers have two sets, these and pitching stats. Each stat can have up to fifteen points on it. But players have a maximum number of points they can take. So a player with a max of 30 points, could only have two stats maxed at 15, and the rest of stats would suck. But a player with 80 max, could have jacked stats, with one slacking slightly. Veterans usually have more points but lower maxes, and rookies have crap stats but the best potential.



This is Babe, from the American Dreams, Computer teams don't show the max.





With that in mind you can imagine how you hire and fire players (and trade) to advance your team. But how do you add points to each players. You play baseball. Each time you win a game you win money. That money is them spent on the player. Crappy players aren’t worth much, but the better they get, the more they are worth, and the more it takes to buy them points. Points come randomly you can drop 150,000 and get one point, or up to six points.


Of course you can’t beat the best teams at first, you have to work your way up. Quickly you’ll learn that the Lovely Ladies fork over the most dough. They aren’t hard to beat either. As I did ,they soon will be in every league you make to pad your wallet.
So that’s is the game, it is a good game, but to be fair I’d like to talk about the bad points. Oh no here comes the bad stuff.


First of all how’d you like to play three games, 9 innings a piece, and take all that hard earned money and power up a player to only get one point. That’s right full three games and you get one lousy point. Or your player has 84 max points, right now he I at 82, you drop the dough and you get one point. That is another 150k you’ll need to buy the last point. I like the random point values per power up, but at a point when you spend a fortune to buy points getting one is like get kicked in the nuts.


Secondly on this list of bad points about baseball stars, is the king of king team, the American Dreams. Ok the American Dreams are not that tuff, when you first start out they will kill you. But if your team is jacked, and every player is way better than the Dream’s team, you still have to be careful with the Dreams. I’ve seen them get hot, not whoa hot, but CHEAP hot. Homers off way out curves, incredible fielding speed, and other miracles. I’m just saying for some reason this team gets cheap more often than most. It isn’t isolated with them, a mid rung team the Ghastly Monsters will get cheap plays as well. But it seems the American Dreams get cheap outs, and homers more than the rest. By the way they are the only team that has caught a homer shot by climbing the wall off of me.


Ok while I’m on the subject cheap, my next two points come to mind. Errors. You throw the ball two foot the third basemen for an out, and the ball swooshes past him like an out of control train. All the runners clear the bases and you are chasing the ball like a jack hole. I’ve seen two types of errors, basemen, or mid fielder not catching a thrown ball, and completely missing a catch. Ok I like having errors. I’ve been like whoops when I just caught a foul ball past in the right infield line with my first basemen and went to throw it to first, only after committing the action realizing no one is covering the base. That I understand. A player with pain fully low defense blowing a catch, ok. But the errors with missing thrown balls seems to be more distant related. A close throw to a base will more often ,than a long toss, give you an error. You get good defense stats and this is far and few in between, but at first it maybe safer to run and tag the base than throw.


And back to cheap. The computer gets many, many, many cheap double plays. With a super team that can crush the Dreams, I still rarely get a double play on the worst of team. Though mid rung teams still get me with double plays constantly. I don’t’ know how your why if my teams have max defense and speed, and the opponents lack such perfection that this works. How can I not beat their throws, nor my throws beat their runners? Cheap part of the game.


Lastly the most annoying, the most craptastic, the most “I’m never playing this game!” problem with Baseball Stars. . . loosing data. With emulators and roms you don’t have this problem anymore. However take a trip back in time, you put the cartridge in and you turn on the Nintendo, a black screen. Crap, take the game out and blow in it, then give it another go. Yay the screen loads, but WTF, all my data is gone. It seemed like a fifty fifty gamble when your game screwed up that you’d either keep your team you’ve invested hours in, or you’d loose all your data.


I don’t how blowing in a Nintendo game that was clean got it to work, but I’ll be damned it sure did.


So enough bad stuff, lets talk about good stuff.


The game play. In my opinion even with new 3-D graphics, a zillion buttons, and complicated physic engines, Baseball stars is the best and easiest playing baseball game. The graphics are 2D, you have the direction pad and two buttons, but you can still dive with the short stop and make an amazing play. The game play isn’t over complicated, it is fun.





The physics are awesome. Pitchers get tired, monster hitters don’t smash a homer every time at bat, you get walked, and the fielder live up to their good or bad stats. Even with the 2D 8 bit graphics I’ve never played a game that felt more like real baseball. I’ve played them that look more like real baseball, but never that felt like baseball. Lets face it in today’s games power hitters have way too much power, and there are way too many spectacular dives from the short stop turning double plays. Baseball stars is more real than that, it is the next best thing to going out and playing ball.


The game play is also endless. You can just keep building and building your team. Eventually you can max you team, but if your like me you’ll have two or three teams going. Even when you can kill the best team, the Dreams, your jacked teams can provide a challenge. For three million dollars, about two days of game play, you can buy a superstar with 90 max points, when fully powered making him a “perfect 15 point all stat player.” so getting a perfect team is time consuming. There is no end.


Another good thing is you learn what prestige means. The more prestige your team has the more people come to your games, and the more money you make. That is why playing the Lovely Ladies pays, they have high prestige. So do you want a good team that makes no money, and takes longer to earn powerups, or a fancy boy team that lacks stats and has high prestige, but pulls huge bank? It is a balancing act.


To be fair when I played this game a kid, neither I or my younger brother (8 and 4 respectively) knew what prestige meant. Before the internet you had to track down a dictionary, and we just wanted to play ball. Raining outside? Then you played baseball stars. We never really cared about prestige we just wanted to hit homers. We thought prestige meant how accurate you throw the ball so we would power up power hitters with hitting and batting, and give our pitchers high prestige. We hit more home runs, and made more money so the two never connected in our heads. After the Nintendo went away years later we came onto the subject of Baseball Stars, and thought crap remember prestige? Yes, we wasted all those hours making zilch when we could of been pulling in big bucks. Learning my friend, is a good thing.


To close up this article, or review, on Baseball Stars we end with the best feature. You not only make the team, you manage and customize the players. This makes Baseball Stars like an RPG baseball game. As you earn dough you spend it, hire a promising rookie, power up a team member, balance your team with vets that can win games and rookies that have higher max points. In the end you wind up with a dominating force , if you do it right.


You can choose how your team grows. You want guns for arms in the outfield and the corners, quick short and second basemen, you want power at your 4th spot, or untraditionally at your 3rd or 5th? You decide. You choose who has what talents. Remember the opponents will notice a slow outfielder and take extra bases when Big Stick Madigan is waddling to grab a right field fly. But then again when Slick Shoes the fast shortstop comes up to bat and couldn’t hit off a tee they will pitch him hard. So you build a team you can win with, you “level” the team to your needs.
Baseball Stars, you get to play, manage, create, and control your team.


Extra Extra Extra

Some cheats for this lovely game? Why not, I wished I had these as a kid.

I figured this out after playing the game years later from when I first played it. Pitchers have two sets of stats. Both sets share prestige. So a pitcher also has stamina, speed, left curve, right curve, drop, and prestige. If you get a rookie pitcher with at least 75 max points and none on prestige, then you have a good thing. Power up everything but prestige. You will then go to the other set of stats and max out the prestige (each one have individual maxes). Your pitchers pitching stats can be maxed out this way.


Some super team cheats? Sure.

Enter make team mode, when the Team Select mode (power hitters, fast runners, ect. . .) comes up press DOWN, RIGHT, LEFT, DOWN, DOWN, RIGHT. Now the screen will say "When isn't it?" Type "When it is." and finish making your team. When you view your team you will find your team is powered up to their maxes. Good way to make money and start swapping out low max stat for high max stat players.

Want a all woman team? (With out firing men and hiring women?)
Use make team on the main menu. Press DOWN, RIGHT, LEFT, DOWN, DOWN, RIGHT, UP, UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN, UP. You should be highlighting Veterans. Push A the message given should be "WHAT IS A WREN?". Delete this and enter "A BIRD." Include period. Press Start so it will accept this. You will see another message saying "WHEN ISN'T IT?". Delete this and enter "WHEN IT IS.", boom your team will be all women players.
For both of these put WHEN on the first line and IT IS on the second.


Game Genie.


Ok so finally, one piece of information I didn’t want to share. Nope. I wanted to keep this all to myself. Go ahead and search, see if you find some game genie codes. . . Find any good ones? No cause I solely hold the best code for Baseball Stars ever. Search all you like, ok it isn’t that bad. I have never seen this anywhere else. It was found by using a hex editor, and playing with game genie codes, until the cash spent hex was found. This codes mods that, so when you spend money it doesn’t subtract, but multiplies your amount. Making it easy for you to get infinite cash by spending it. Max your team quickly with this.

PNXLLOON

Ok so this code takes a lot of the fun out of the game. But once you’ve made your team the old fashion way, this code is great for experimenting. See if a defensive powerhouse can beat a slugging machine, see if a lucky team can beat a team of pure skill. This code while it ruins the earning aspect, is makes Baseball Stars fun to toy around with.

4 comments:

  1. YES! Seriously a great game. I agree about the getting hot comment, and I don't know if I'm just imagining that, or if it really was programmed in. Great game, and I have it as #2 all-time at http://kooztop5.blogspot.com/2011/08/top-5-nes-video-games.html

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  2. I have a great code just discovered... want a pitcher that begins every game Happy?... if you start a league ...after you pitch a guy for 4 or 5 innings.. the next game he is supposed to be tired.. when you go to change a pitcher in game 2 you can see a smile or a frown face letting you know if hes tired or not.. Heres a secret to always start a pitcher with a smile (start every game healthy)..... buy a star pitcher with max capacity of exactly 68 (it may take a few tries to find one with exactly 68 max).. pump him up exactly as follows for pitching stats..(from top to bottom) 8, 12, 10, 5, 10, 6. (His batting stats wont make a difference for the trick.) Call the pitcher "Ace". You can now pitch this guy 4 innings every game.. (he will get tired after pitching 4 innings while playing in the game.. but he will start every game healthy)....try it out... Jamie

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  3. Please, what is the "cash spent hex?" I dont know anything about code, but is it as simple as using a hex editor to remove a line and insert PNXLLOON? If so, what do I remove?

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  4. any pitcer with 8 or less stamina will be happy every game. There are also some glitches I've seen on this game, because apparently no one knows if there is a cheat for them. There is a way you can have your team get 99,999,990 in cash without playing, and I've also seen a DH, along with a create a team logo, that isn't original.. Granted this was a long time ago

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