The Bases Loaded series is something I haven’t been huge on as far as discovering older sports games. Regarding the first ones on NES, they are okay, but the fielding was kind of shoddy. It had the presentation, looking like a game on TV, but not the greatest from a gameplay perspective. Trying out Super Bases Loaded, it’s surprisingly decent. Once you understand the mechanics a little bit, it plays fine. That says a lot for being one of the very first sports games on the SNES in the fall of 1991.
As we entered the 90s, there was a bigger emphasis on creating more than enough content like winning a championship, for instance. It seemed to be the case as every game started to have that. To be able to take a favorite team of yours all the way, even if it wasn’t the real licensed team, was a huge incentive. Super Bases Loaded has none of that. What they want you to do is play a perfect game. By perfect, they don’t just mean pitching without walks or hits. It means flawless defense along with your offense. Why they couldn’t have a pennant mode, I don’t know. It’s rather lazy and they didn’t have any clue what they were doing. That means no huge mistakes or errors, which will happen. I can’t imagine being that dedicated to something like that.
Playing the game, you pick a team, which are completely fictional. Even fictional players, complete with stats. There is the choice to also have a designated hitter in the lineup. There are only 13 teams. Twelve of which are regular teams and one you can edit yourself. You can have your own unique batting order and some of the pitchers you want leading the way on the mound. It is a 1 to 2 player title, but you can also watch a full 9 inning game.
Even though it is a very early title, I’m a little impressed with how Super Bases Loaded looked in graphics. The field and mound look like one of those stadiums that had AstroTurf during that time. Like the NES games, the presentation is set to make it seem like you are watching a game on TV. Pitcher and batter designs are modeled quite well. The pitchers have nice throwing animations and the batters sport different ways of how they stand in the batters box. When the ball is in play, the animations are not the greatest on the fielders and runners. However, the stadium overall looks great and you get the sense of it looking like the real deal. There’s even a few Mode 7 moments at the end of half innings if 3 outs are recorded in play. If you want my hot take on it, a few 3rd party companies were showcasing the SNES’ graphical capabilities better than Nintendo was outside of F-Zero.
There isn’t that much to the audio, surprisingly. The music is there. Not anything noteworthy, but it has that sense of sounding like it belongs in a game like this. This and some of the Sega baseball games of this era understood what was needed. Sound effects are very minimal with catching the ball and the crack of the bat being the most commonly heard ones. Crowd noises are not the most enthusiastic, but will cheer for certain plays. It also sounds a little bit like a real crowd. Voices are relegated to umpires for the calls. They sound okay, but a tiny bit muffled and sounding like they are talking through a megaphone. The home run voice is the same as the NES versions, but clearer and not scratchy. Really, it is what it is and it does enough to sound like the real thing.
My biggest concern heading into this game was the batting. Sometimes, it’s good to be wrong. It took a few game attempts before finally understanding how to hit the ball. There are times where it feels like a headache, but unlike games around that time such as Hardball and Tommy Lasorda Baseball, you can actually have a decent offense. Scoring runs is not a huge hassle. You can hit with three distinct swings if you think a pitch is going to be in one specific area. There’s also bunting and stealing bases.
Pitching is weird. Unlike most games around this time, there isn’t much explanation on how to pitch. Controlling the ball’s movement after it’s thrown is random. However, it’s not impossible to get strikeouts and ground outs. Super Bases Loaded does allow pitching changes. However, they don’t allow multiple fielding styles. This was around the time where there was so many RBI Baseball imitators and several games opted for different styles. Bases Loaded II had the behind the fielder perspective. Others went with that method, including all versions of Roger Clemens MVP Baseball, this game, and the SNES version of Tecmo Super Baseball. It’s not the most awkward as the controls are easy to grasp once you understand it and the angle isn’t directly behind a fielder. Unfortunately, it is the weakest part of this game.
Even with a radar, which is a welcoming addition, it is a little tough to know where the ball is going to land if attempting to grab a fly out. One thing I have never understood is making the fielders slow as molasses. This isn’t a problem with the Bases Loaded series only. A number of NES games and some of the Sega baseball ones had that same issue. Where they place the fielders in Super Bases Loaded is a problem in itself and it switches to who they think is the next closest player to the ball. It’s one of those love or hate things as either it helps to stop a runner from getting a double or triple play, or it has the opposite effect.
It’s easy to get through a 9 inning game, even with the weak fielding aspect. Super Bases Loaded is not an arcade type game, but it’s not an in depth realistic one either. While this is a game I wouldn’t recommend, this is one of the better ones on a system that doesn’t have the greatest lineup of baseball games. If it wasn’t for the perfect game thing, I would rave more about it, even with the fielding issues. Bump it up or down a star if it bothers you or if it won’t detract from the game.
Three stars out of five.
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