Kickin’ It Old School – Super Bases Loaded

You know what’s awesome? Baseball! And as the World Series is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory (the only way it would be better is if the Cubs were in it, but they were evidently drunk during the NLDS, so no dice), and as life has finally slowed down enough for the moment for me to write a column I promised some months ago, it’s time to take a look at a game that will keep me warm throughout the long winter between seasons.

Super Bases Loaded (SNES, 1991)

The first of the Bases Loaded games to be “Super”, Super Bases Loaded plays much like Bases Loaded 3, in that there is no “Pennant Race” mode, but exhibitions in which players are to play a perfect game. A perfect game in this sense is a game in which you not only shut down the opposing team, but allow none of your own players to be picked off or struck out. It doesn’t sound too hard, but once you start playing, you realize how tough this actually is.

Pitches thrown at different speeds and different locations inside the strike zone try to tie you up, and pitchers get realistically fatigued the longer they stay in the game. And if you’re like me, you’re an impatient baseball video game player, and you swing at pretty much every pitch you see (a trend that continues with games like Wii Sports and MLB 2K8), leading to more than a few strike outs, which instantly ruins your chances of a perfect game.

One time, only one time ever, have I achieved a perfect game in Super Bases Loaded, a few years ago. I can’t even put into words how happy I was; it was like the Cubs won the World Series and then came to my house to celebrate, bringing Keira Knightley and Elisha Cuthbert with them as a personal gift for being a fan. But then, a huge shock: I had to get a perfect game again in order to see the “real” ending, which of course I failed at, only to start back at the beginning again with nothing. This was like having the Cubs called back to replay the ninth inning of game 7 after they win the Series, only to lose this time. God damn it all to pus sucking hell!!

I really only recently picked this game back up after that disappointment. Despite the fact that I’ll likely never get one over on this game, it’s still pretty fun. I like the weird names they give the teams since they didn’t have MLB licenses, like the Washington Eagles, Chicago Cyclops and New York Mercs. Mercs? What the hell is a Merc? Fun fact: it also predicted the name of a WNBA team 9 years before it was established, the Seattle Storm. So…there’s that. I mostly stuck with the Atlanta Amoebas, since they were awesome, despite the fact that they may very well have the worst name for a sports team ever, fictional or real. Yes, worse than the Oklahoma City Thunder.

What can you say about the gameplay? It’s baseball; you hit, you run and you field. You can throw different pitches depending on which direction you press the D-pad before pitching, and as mentioned, your pitcher gets fatigued if he stays in the game too long, which is a nice touch. You can also control where in the strike zone you swing. In the field, you can jump or dive for a ball, which I never got to work right.

The music? Just awesome. It’s upbeat and catchy through most of the game, but it gets really tense when you have a runner in scoring position. It really throws you off, but in a good way. The graphics are nothing to write home about. Everyone looks pretty much the same outside of a few differences in skin color and batting stance. They’re all expressionless, I guess because they didn’t have the rights to anyone’s likeness. Or maybe it’s meant to be that way, like they’re not rattled by the RISP music.

I assume I’ll eventually play two perfect games some day. It’ll be right up there with my greatest video game accomplishments like beating Blaster Master (it took me 15 years, but I did it). I recommend popping this one back in if you have it lying around, as it’s still pretty fun. Or, if you want a similar experience, you might try MLB 2K7 on the DS*. It’s pretty much the same thing – same graphics, same gameplay – but with actual MLB teams and players.

*Do not, under any circumstances, buy, rent, steal or otherwise try to play MLB 2K7 on the DS. It is a glitchy pile of crap and should be avoided at all costs.

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