HardBall

  • Manufacturer: Accolade
  • Version: Sega Genesis

It took two years for a game company to release a baseball game for the Genesis to go head-to-head with Tommy Lasorda Baseball. That's astounding. Not a month goes by without some publisher heaping yet another baseball game onto Nintendo's pile: RBI Baseball, ERA Baseball, Pete Rose's Bet-to-Win Baseball, whatever, with only minor details distinguishing one from another. Perhaps nobody felt they could beat Tommy Lasorda at his own game (not before the liquid diet, anyway). Even NEC seemed to clone TLB for the TurboGrafx-16. Now along comes Ballistic to release Accolade's hit computer game Hardball! for the Genesis. The billion-buck question is, who plays a hotter game?

Let's go to the video tape. Both games have two leagues as well as East & West divisions, for a total of 26 teams. Neither uses authentic players, nor can you change stats. You can make substitutions and change players or positions. Equal footing there. TLB uses a non-standard notation for stats, though, which is confusing at first but more informative overall.

Both games let you run a world series, but Hardball! won't let you play out the whole season. On the other hand, Hardball! allows you to play the series against a human opponent, while TLB restricts the whole season and series to you against the computer (and you have to play the whole season first and finish appropriately placed in the rankings before you can play the series). In both cases, passwords allow you to save your season or series in progress.

Hardball!'s ballistics seem more realistic. The angle of view is elevated to the right and above the pitcher (during batting) and scrolls during plays. The disadvantage of these views becomes apparent in side-by-side comparisons with TLB, where the view is either directly overhead or straightforward from the ump's view of home plate. As a batter, it's obviously a lot more realistic - not to mention accurate - to see the ball coming at you than it is to see it from a remote-angled vantage point. As a pitcher in TLB, you can see the base runners in small inset windows, and judge for yourself whether or not to try to pick off someone taking a hearty lead. In Hardball!, a small diamond in the corner of the screen shows you which bases are occupied and how big a lead the runners are taking, which is neither as interesting nor as accurate.

In both games, fielding is the hardest element to control. In TLB, you're given that same small diamond in the corner, but it shows the positions of your fielders as well as base runners. A decent giveaway to compensate for the limitations of a TV screen. In Hardball! - and this is where my biggest gripe lies - there is no way to see where your outfielders are. You must remember their positions in relation to the features of the park and hope one of them will wind up onscreen somewhere near the ball. It's haphazard, much more difficult and not a particularly enjoyable or fair way to challenge players.

The graphics are roughly equal, though TLB still takes the prize for realism in animation. Hardball! has some nice touches, particularly in the interaction between the catcher and the pitcher (watch them carefully!). Digitized sounds are excellent, especially the calls, which are the crispest and clearest I've heard. But for some strange reason, runners aren't called safe, which leaves you wondering for a few seconds how the computer saw the play. Strikes are called, but balls are not. Weird!

All in all, it was a very close game. But in this reporter's eyes, it's still Tommy 1, Challengers 0.

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HardBall Downloads

Sega Genesis HardBall download
  • Machine: Sega Genesis;
  • Manufacturer: Accolade

Exactly six years after the release of Hardball for the PC - a blockbuster game that sold more than half a million copies - Accolade is pitching a Sega Genesis version. Released under Accolade's new videogame label, Ballistic, Hardball! is likely to share, the success enjoyed by its famous forefather.

Like the computer version, the videogame serves up an uncluttered, uncannily realistic game of baseball while simultaneously capturing much of the flavor and aura of an afternoon at the ballpark. Hardball! does this by rendering the sights and sounds of baseball with an amazing degree of authenticity. Pitchers' windups and batters' swings look as if they came from ESPN game films. Sound effects include the pop! of a ball finding its way into a fielder's glove, the whoosh! of a would-be hitter's unlucky swing, and the crisp crack! of a clean hit.

Most remarkable, however, is Hardball!'s approach to the pitcher- batter matchup. It lets you duplicate the mind games that are a vital part of the game within the game. Each hurler has a wide range of pitches, which he can throw for either perfect strikes or untouchable balls. Hitters, meanwhile, can position themselves anywhere in the batter's box and can hit to either left or right field.

Fortunately, these capable ballplayers get to ply their trade on an even playing field. Unlike the ballfields in most videogames, this one has reasonable dimensions. This means you won't see an uncommon number of inside-the- park home runs or stupidly missed pop flies. It also means that solid defense is rewarded and dumb mistakes are punished fairly.

One drawback, however, is the generic personality of the players and the ballpark. The players names and identities are imaginary and anonymous, and you can't choose where you'll play. It would be nice to have actual big- league players, or maybe a team editor that would allow you to stock your own teams with favorite stars. The latter feature is found in Hardball II for the PC.

Hardball!'s imperfections shouldn't threaten its status as a great game, however. It deserves a place on your game shelf right next to Tommy Lasorda Baseball.

reggie posted a review
  • Type: Sport
  • Available: 1991
  • Difficulty: Easy

That's right baseball fans! It's that time of year again, and Ballistic's Hardball is here for the Genesis! All of the National and American League teams are featured in Hardball. As a pitcher choose from a variety pitches and stances, or attempt to pick off a base runner. As a batter, pick your stance and go for extra bases. Hardball's unique feature is the Batting Cage mode, allowing you to practice!

People say:

7

Its been awhile since Tommy was introduced, so Ballistic hits us with Hardball. Converted from the computer, Hardball plays a decent game but there aren't a lot of bells and whistles that really jazzed me. It does have its merits, however, and should please most sports fans.

8

Easily one of tne best playing baseball games around. Great graphics and the pitcher-batter screen is exceptional. Lots of pitches to choose from and a wide variety of subtle moves and options are built in. It will take some time to really learn how the game plays.

6

I don't like the reversed perspective of the batter and pitcher. It totally makes batting a frustrating event. The graphics are very good and the sound is great, real voices call out the plays. Not a whole lot of options here, but a solid game of baseball. I like the batting cages.

7

Undoubtedly one of the most graphic baseball simulations around Hardball offers tons of variety and little to waste! The digitized are well done, and the graphics are excellent. The background music could use a little work, but then can be turned off. Not bad for a sports game.

reggie posted a review

Holy Cow!

That's right baseball fans, it's that time of year again, and Ballistic's Hardball is here for the Genesis! All of the American and National League teams are featured in Hardball. As a pitcher, choose from a variety of pitches and stances, or attempt to pick off a base runner. As a batter, pick your stance and maybe go for extra bases.

One unique feature in Hardball is the Batting Cage mode. Here, you can practice slugging the variety of pitches but of the ballpark! You can also play a world series game, or start a new season with the handy password feature!

Another amazing triumph in Hardball is the digitized voices and sound effects! You'll cringe when you hear the plate umpire call a strike, and rejoice when the announcer yells "Homerun!"

One quick tip for batters is to follow the shadow of the pitch to determine when to swing. By doing this, your batting average will improve!

reggie posted a review
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