Bad News Baseball

Reviewed by Stan, Posted on 2011-01-05


Developer: Tecmo Publisher: Tecmo
Release Date: 1990 Also On: None

Hooray, I've reached my first baseball title on the NES to review. It never fails to amaze me how many are released for different consoles. You'd think a handful would be enough, but companies always find an excuse to make another one. Anyway, Bad News Baseball is a good title in many ways. It's definitely one of the better baseball titles for the NES, but it does have several flaws that people seem to miss that bring it down.

Graphically, Bad News Baseball is dang good. The characters look really polished, there aren't any glitches, and the cinematics are awesome. They really flavored it up with some impressive designs. The field has enough detail to make it feel fleshed-out, and the characters all have this 'R.B.I. Baseball' feel to them. Bad News Baseball has basically taken this angle of play and used it over again, so this really looks pretty similar to the R.B.I. series, especially the first one. As such, it does have some flaws. First off, other than some minor clothing changes, the characters are always the same. The only thing they really did to make it look any different was make the umpires rabbits for some reason and add a little more detail. Other than the cool cut scenes and special screens when you win and such, this is pretty much R.B.I. Baseball when it comes to the graphics. Still, they are good, so can't really complain.

Bad News Baseball then follows it up with some pretty cool music and sound effects. The effects are generally standard fare for a baseball title, you can't expect anything new there really, and the music is catchy and fun. It pretty much sounds like R.B.I. Baseball as much as it looks like it, so I have to put the score down a little, but in general no problems in this category either.

Bad News Baseball follows the traditional format of baseball, other than the Japanese tradition of ending a game in a tie instead of going into extra innings. You have several cool play options and even a secret 'girl mode' that you an activate. Overall, however, it's what you'd expect and nothing new. You have a number of teams to choose from with different strengths and weaknesses and you play through each team until you've beaten them all and then get the ending. There isn't a full season to go through and no actual 'world series' event of any sort, so that's a bummer, but at least stats matter in this game and you have options to switch out pitchers and batters as you play. Switching pitchers is actually critical because they slowly tire. Overall, though, nothing new, it's all pretty standard. Check out a bit here before I reveal some of the interesting flaws I discovered while finishing Bad News Baseball:

First off, I noticed the computer plays really well. It's so skilled at fielding and hitting there's little room for error. Other than the occasional screw-up that's programmed into the game, the computer generally never does anything wrong. More importantly, the majority of the scoring is by homeruns. Playing the bases is almost impossible because the computer fields so well. Other than the occasional hit down the sides it can't get to, you rarely have any chance of advancing, leaving the majority of your score only homeruns. It's not too difficult to get used to fielding, but Bad News Baseball has such an inordinate number of homers it's kind of pointless anyway. The computer smacks them out of the park like they're nothing. This makes it difficult to ever win, if it were not for a small programming flaw.

You see, by simply moving your pitcher all the way to the right or left of the mound (depending on the batter's facing) you will always deal a strike right on the edge of the plate. The computer is obligated to hit it, but because it's slow to move over the most it can do is lob the ball straight to your pitcher or to one of your fielders almost every time. Using this trick I not only was able to complete one game in under five minutes, but I was able to go undefeated through all of Bad News Baseball giving out only a single run the entire time, dealing out triple and double plays left and right, shooting out homers in my spare time, and setting world records. Talk about easy. Once I got that down Bad News Baseball was pathetic. The teams never get any more difficult either. Ha, I laugh.

Bad News Baseball is not very creative at all. The only creative facets to this game are the bonus cinematics they added and the rabbit umpires that have no effect on actual play anyway. These issues don't make the game any different than R.B.I. Baseball or the million other baseball titles on the NES. It's pretty fun, but creative it is definitely not.

I have to say, in spite of the easy play and similarity to other titles, I did enjoy running through Bad News Baseball and I could see myself doing it again. As for length, Bad News Baseball thankfully has a password feature you can use so you can come back or, using my trick, beat it in about half an hour (laughter inserted here). Honestly, I did come back to it a lot because I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if I would have without exploiting the game mechanics. This computer is a little too good if you give it any edge.

Bad News Baseball is definitely an enjoyable title for the NES and one of the better baseball games in its library, but it certainly doesn't deserve the reputation it tends to get from fans. Sure, it's pretty fun I guess, but in general it can be way too easy, doesn't have the options of other games, and, more importantly, focuses more on graphics than doing something new so it ends up looking like any other R.B.I. Baseball clone out there. Really, when it comes down to it, that's all Bad News Baseball is, and there are better ones out there, but you won't necessarily be disappointed outright.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 4.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.7
Written by Stan Review Guide

Reviewed by Stan