Once upon a time...
By David Lee
Their baseball is real. But they are not.
No, it's not some Spielberg-esque version of "A.I. Baseball." The
game was Base Wars, a curious amalgam of baseball and gladiatorial
combat for the original 8-bit Nintendo. If you ever had a craving
for robot baseball/violence, then this game fits your niche
The game featured teams from the baseball Meccas of St. Louis,
Minnesota, Toronto and Detroit, just to name a few. Don't be
fooled, though - there were no uniforms or unique stadiums.
Instead, games took place in a generic stadium that floated
in space and teams were divided into simple colours of red
The focus of the game was hitting home runs, beating on your
opponents and throwing ridiculous pitches that had more curves
than Heidi Klum. Base Wars also featured the requisite cheesy,
repetitive music and pseudo-digital sounds like "home run" and "yeah."
Nevertheless, Base Wars remained plenty of fun to play. Much
like Blades of Steel, Base Wars' best-known feature was the
constant fighting. On any force play or tag, the game cut to
a close-up of the two combatants. At this point, a player could
go for a punch/stab/gunshot or use his character's special
move. This is where the types of robots really came into play.
If you were a cyborg, you'd do a drop kick; a tank would charge
at his opponent and yell "Hey!"; a unicycle would spin in the
air and the "flybot" would hover up in the air, waiting to
land on his opponent's noggin.
The plethora of in-game fights lent itself to different in-game
strategies. Each robot had a certain number of hit points that
would decrease as he got hit. The points would regenerate during
a fight and you would receive big boosts for victories and
homers. If any player took enough punishment, he would drop
to the ground and lay writhing in robot pain, his hit points
having expired. Moments later, he'd explode as the player responsible
pranced around, raising his arms in the air. However, if one
team lost three players, they had to forfeit the match.
Season mode also had the added bonus of stat tracking and
shopping for upgrades. Again, the feature here was the weapons.
You could buy swords, guns and "iron fists" that not only increased
your punching power, but helped land you at the head of a corrupt
regime as well. The zaniest weapon was the detaching fist that
could hit your opponent from across the screen. In a nice touch,
players involved in altercations during the game had to be
repaired in the shop to return to full strength.
Upgrades were also plentiful. A "catch" would improve your
fielder's range, while a "shoulder" would improve his ability
to hit the long ball. An "engine" would hasten his in-battle
recovery, while an upgraded "unit" would make him run faster.
Strange, I thought an upgraded unit would make you last longer,
not come faster...
Though the game lacked many of the more detailed aspects of
its contemporaries, it provided an undeniable sense of fun,
something missing in many of today's ultra-realistic simulations.
If you're craving an imaginative take on America's game, Base
Wars is probably your best bet.