Insert Disk collects Super Baseball 2020 for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Super Baseball 2020 for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a decent attempt at creating a baseball game with a modern twist. Its the year 2020 so expect cyborg fielders and robot batters. The future, its a strange place.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. 2020, the future, or present if you are watching this today or the past most probably by the time you watch this episode.
Yes, today we take a look at a game that came from the past to show us a glimpse of the sporting future. Today we take a look back at Super Baseball 2020 for the Sega Genesis. Super Baseball 2020 originated in the arcades back in 1991 when it was released by Neo Geo. The game subsequently found ports to the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive and Genesis by 1993. At this point in time 2020 was 27 years in the future. Now if that doesn’t make you feel old nothing will.
I’m looking here at the Sega Genesis edition. There is a UK PAL edition for the Mega Drive but seeing as the UK isn’t exactly a baseball kind of nation I thought we would go American here. The packaging is decent and the artwork also makes a good impression for a sports game. Inside you’ll find the standard cartridge and game manual. It’s fairly decent with the basic operations and player stats. This clue line poster was far more interesting though. Just 95 cents for the first minute and 75 cents for every minute after. I’ll pass thanks. Then again, passwords for Rampart could come in handy.
So, what’s it all about. On the surface, not much. Just another in slew of sports games released by Electronic Arts on to the Sega 16-bit platforms. I can tell you, it’s no Madden and it’s certainly no NHL. Boiling baseball down to its bare minimum one team fields whilst the other bats. The aim being to progress through the bases. You’ll get a point for every player that makes it home. Alternatively you can score points by hitting a home run. However, this is Super Baseball and 2020 so the game has been modified a bit. First of all you can choose between several teams of enhanced humans or even robots, seems fair. Each team has certain strengths such as fielding or batting although I did personally find that they all played in a fairly similar way.
The mechanics of pitching and batting are reasonably easy to get to grips with. You can put spin on the ball and even make a power hit if you connect correctly as the batter. The game does add in a few layers of strategy though. For most actions you will be either earning or losing money. So, hit a home run and win $10,000, catch a player out for £1,000. But why the cash system at all? Well, it’s to enable the ability to upgrade you team as you go. Use that hard earned cash to upgrade your robots or add armour to your players. It certainly adds something to the game and worth boosting your players at the right time for an important advantage. Things ratchet up a level when the umpire announces that there will be crackers left on the field, sort of small explosive mines. Well, ok why not it is 2020 after all?
Despite playing very much like regular baseball there are also a few minor amendments such as the home run zone only being directly in front of the player. The foul ball area is now also restricted to directly behind the player. This does make the game flow a little faster than similar games. So what you have here is essentially an enhanced version of a classic sports game. For NBA JAM Tournament Edition this worked really well. However, Super Baseball 2020 comes up against a few issues in my opinion. First of all, the repetition. By nature the game is very much turn based and I found that past a couple of games I didn’t feel much enthusiasm for another go. This primarily came from the frustration of batting. For some reason I just couldn’t seem to connect with the ball with any consistency. I would either sky the ball for an easy catch by the opponent or simply hit it somewhere in to the stands. On occasions the elusive homerun was possible but only by using the robot character.
I also found the pitching and fielding was also somewhat problematic. The pitching was a rather dull experience after a while as there wasn’t too much strategy. Throw hard and put some spin on it if you can. There was nothing broken here, it’s just the nature of the sport itself in many respects. In terms of the fielding it can be a case of hoping to be in the right place at the right time as the fielders don’t appear on the mini map. Thankfully there is a bit of assistance from the computer to make sure that your fielders are usually in the vicinity of the oncoming ball. It is satisfying to make that catch when needed.
Super Baseball 2020 isn’t a terrible game and I perhaps sound more down on the game than I should. It’s perhaps just that I expected a little better. The idea is sound, the cash system, level ups and on field bonus elements should all make this one very memorable. Instead it just never seems to get past second gear in terms of excitement in my opinion. This is perhaps as much to do with myself as the gamer as the game itself. It’s not a bad game by any means and I’m certain that this game will have its fans that look for an alternative to the other baseball games of the era. It dares to add in new mechanics to the sports, a mix of characters and a level of strategy that perhaps isn’t in other baseball games of the time.
So if you like what you see here the game is worth a try. The PAL Mega Drive edition currently sells for around £25 here in the UK which is far too expensive in my opinion. Alternatively you could hunt down a copy for the SNES or Neo Geo CD. All of which seem a little overpriced considering there are much better baseball games on the market. For the die-hard baseball fan though it is perhaps worth the entry fee.
So, Super Baseball 2020 may not be my cup of tea but I appreciate that the developers did make the attempt to break the monotony of the endless other sports series and for that we can all be thankful. Until next time, happy gaming.