Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week we’re looking as SNK’s first successful franchise. The first game of the series is not only widely considered the best bestball game on the NES, but is almost unanimously cited as the best baseball game ever made. It was the first ever game to offer “create a team” or “create a player” options, and this was nearly a decade and half before it became anything close to standard fare. Although SNK has since moved on to making nothing but fighting games and the rare Metal Slug title, sports game fans and SNK loyalists alike remember this series with amazing fondness. Since the first game in the series is 20 years old as of July 2009, the Diehard GameFAN crew discusses what they feel should be done with Baseball Stars.
Dave Olvera -Sequel
The name Baseball Stars conjures up hours and hours of time in front of the NES. The arcade/NEO-GEO versions were fun too but the original on the NES was the real star of the series. While Baseball Stars 2 was merely okay, the first Baseball Stars was a sports game that people who hated sports games could get into. Combining team building, wacky teams and the ability to create female players added to Baseball Stars charm. The baseball game engine itself was alright, with only the left field line home run that will not drift foul being my only major complaint.
The graphics could be improved, there could be a vast sea of different types of players (monsters, aliens, women, etc) more stadiums and beautiful 2-D graphics (this is SNK after all). SNK’s non-fighting games like League Bowling, Neo Turf Masters, Super Sidekicks (amongst others) were usually rather fun – and Baseball Stars is a primary candidate for resurrection.
How many people have fond memories of one of the first console sports games to have player management options? I can remember playing Baseball Stars for ages in order to improve my created team’s stats (mainly by playing the Lovely Ladies). While Sporttime/Designstar brought out their sports management games by about two years, Baseball Stars remains the earliest console game I can remember that has such features – a precursor of what was to become mandatory later on in most every sports game. Hell, the game had a battery back up and kept track of season stats should you make a league (though when you played an exhibition game it would use stats your players would have based on their ability scores).
Even the Neo-Geo Pocket/Pocket Color versions of the game were dead on fun. Many sports games have forgotten how to actually be fun, lost in a sea of straight simulation or “Madden” culture. Baseball Stars is a perfect game to re-ignite some passion for sports games from those folks sick of everything surrounding sports games
>Alexander Lucard – Sequel
I love Baseball Stars. The original game is easily the best baseball game ever made if you’re talking about sheer quality and what was possible in a console generation. I played that thing until the battery finally died and then went out and purchased another one. This was the game that introduced me to SNK and I still wonder why the hell SNK never made one like the original. The two Neo*Geo Baseball Stars were actually a drop in quality because you could create or edit teams like you could in the NES version. I still have the Neo*Geo Pocket Colour version, and even though that too lacked the character creation and edit options. I still adore it as it’s one of the best arcade baseball games ever made. Seriously, there is not a bad game amongst the true five baseball star games. Even Romstar’s Baseball Stars 2 for the NES wasn’t that bad. It was just a lesser version of the original made by a different company but using the same engine.
I’m still perplexed as to why Baseball Stars 2 is on the Virtual Console and yet the original isn’t. That would be a must buy for nearly everyone as it’s the sports game that everyone, including non sports game fans will fall in love with. There are things this game did in 1989 that every other baseball game on the market still wasn’t doing in 1999 and that we only really got on a regular basis in the past two console generation. Imagine where the genre would be if SNK had kept up with the same level of innovation and ahead of its time thinking.
Chris Bowen – Start Over
This kind of reminds me of Mutant League Football in a sense, but there are differences. For one, Mutant League was made famous because it was the only game that did the super-gory violent football game properly (Pigskin Footbrawl and Super High Impact did not), whereas Baseball Stars was one in a line of many arcade-style baseball games, and was still able to stand out. Furthermore, Mutant League was only arguably good while ANY version of Baseball Stars was awesome.
Now, there are two ways to take this. There is Baseball Stars for the NES, and Baseball Stars Professionalfor the Neo-Geo. The former was a stat and league based game, and the latter was an arcade game pure and simple. I say mix the two together; give us the gameplay – with upgrades for technology, of course – from the Neo Geo version of Baseball Stars, but support full leagues, upgrades, and – dare I say it – online league support. Oh my God, I wish I made video games, I’d be on that RIGHT NOW.
They could make a great arcade baseball game with the niceties of today’s technology, and sell it on a great name that transcended two generations. I’d be all over it.
Start Over: 1
Stay Dead: 0
I think this is the first time we’ve had a unanimously positive reaction to a game. Unfortunately SNK seems to have no interest in making any other Baseball Stars titles, and from the looks of things after the latest The King of Fighters titles, they have no interest in making good games. Maybe this article will help to respark fan interest in the title and show SNK they have one other franchise that they should be spending time with.
Next week can be summed up in two words: Planescape: Torment. See you then.