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Base Wars Package Art
 GENRE
  Sports
 DEVELOPER
  Ultra Games
 PUBLISHER
  Ultra Games
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-2
 WORTH PLAYING TODAY?
  yes
BUY NOW AT
Base Wars

Like it or not, baseball is fading as America’s favorite sport. Cyber Stadium Series: Basewars aka Base Wars is an attempt to fuse more action and strategy into a baseball game from a time where strict realism was impossible. The turn to a sci-fi all robot baseball game is one that could have only happened in the NES days. If you’ve never played it, its better than you might think. If you have played it, it might not be as good as you remember.

visuals

The sprite work is hit and miss. Teams are invariably red and blue, despite the home team they play for. At bat, the models are full of detail, and during the fight sequences, the models look good as well. However, on the field the robots are a mess of barely animated pixels. They serve their purpose, and given their robotic nature it makes sense that they don’t have pizzaz, but that doesn’t make it exciting to watch.

Conversely, the graphical effects when upgrading players, hitting homeruns, and battling are solid. When purchasing equipment or repairing your robot a nice cutscene appears that reinforces your robot's more powerful abilities. This is especially true when purchasing weapons, as your robot looks much more dangerous with a sidearm. Robot battles are nicely done with the various punches, stabs, explosions, and special moves, though it would have been more convincing if the background was more than a big blank green screen. Also, the gun and sword weapons are indistinguishable from their kin: a laser gun looks identical to the handgun.

audio

Some cheesy digitized voice accompanies the humdrum effects. For a robot shooting the ball out of a cannon, it sounds like a peashooter when tossing the ball around the field. Robots grunt when struck. Overall, background music is sort of catchy but mostly just average NES blips and clips.

gameplay

Base Wars features a rudimentary fighting system grafted onto a rudimentary baseball game adding to both, but there are some flaws to contend with. Chief among these is fielding. When the ball is hit deep into the outfield, the odds of you finding it in a timely manner are less than great. You don’t know how far away your outfielder is, and so what in real baseball would only be a double can be easily stretched into a triple. This was before dynamic camera angles, but even the first NES baseball game (Baseball) had a wide angle view of the outfield.

Each robot can belong to one of several different categories. These are differentiated by their lower torsos. Bots with tank treads, a single big wheel, a hover system, or plain old legs are present, and have a minor influence on how they get around the field. When fully upgraded, they tend to control the same, but without upgrades a tank bot feels slow and a wheel bot skids around. Strike zones are slightly adjusted as well. It was a good idea to include more than one type, but some types are better than others, leading to balance problems.

Combat is what keeps this game from being the typical baseball game. The base runner and baseman can fight when a non-force out happens. Depending on how close to the base the runner is, his health bar adjusts. This discourages players to take chances if they think it will be close, but if you try to run for third when the shortstop has the ball, then you’ll be at a severe disadvantage. Unfortunately, the balance issues of the different types of robots make things a little less fair. Wheel bots and hover bots rule supreme over the other types barring the addition of weapons.

A major positive in the proceedings is the addition of RPG features. Players have hit points, and if they reach zero that robot explodes. Many games of Base Wars end in forfeit due to their roster being literally destroyed. In season mode, your robots can be repaired using the games winnings, keeping their hit points at acceptable levels. In addition, your team can receive upgrades. Your batter can go yard with a better shoulder, or your pitcher can make crazy pitches with a shooter upgrade. You can also equip weapons, and they are fairly balanced according to their price, for the most part.

The batting and pitching are interesting, since with a properly upgraded pitcher insane pitches are possible. The umpire makes good calls, so you won’t usually get a strike you couldn’t hit. Remember the hit points that all of the robots have? They get carried over into the batters box, so if a batter barely survived your wrath before, you can peg him at the plate and make him explode, which is a gaming experience I will treasure always.

multiplayer

Thankfully, A two player mode is included, because the A.I. is dull. Humans make it a better experience, since the balance issues swing both ways depending on who is in the field. Also, with the ability to win even if behind in runs, competition can remain fierce through all nine innings as you keep your team alive.

overall

Base Wars is not the world’s best sports game. However, the fighting system and the RPG upgrade system are unique enough to merit a look. It seems a shame that these concepts were never again applied to other sports titles. The ability to take a team and purchase upgrades should have been refined and sequeled, but as it stands Base Wars is little more than a good game, not a classic.

final score 6.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Matt McDaniel
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"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes"


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