Hardball review - Sega Megadrive
Let's play ball! That most American of sports, baseball, has never really made it to British shores. But now Accolade hope to change all that with the release of Hardball.
After making team and opponent selections, the game switches to the stadium. Player one starts the pitching and chooses between various curve and spin throws. Then he pitches, and gets either a strike or a no ball. If the batter hits the ball (and if it doesn't land in the foul ball zone) he gets to run through the bases. If a fielder catches the ball, or throws it to a baseman before the batter gets there, the batter is out.
When the player is batting he moves the batter's feet around to get the best possible angle on the pitch and swings the bat at the optimum moment. Then he runs like hell to first base and hopefully beyond. Once he's on a base, he can attempt to steal to the next one at any time using the B button.
What the Mean Machines staff thought
Hardball is a very good simulation of the sport, featuring great gameplay, superb presentation, tough computer opponents, excellent sampled speech, a fun two-player option and brilliant animation on the close-up screens. But even though it's easily the best Megadrive baseball game available, unlike John Madden's Football and PGA Tour Golf, it hasn't quite got that addictive spark which makes it really enjoyable to play if you're not particularly interested in the real sport. So although baseball fans will absolutely adore the action, those who aren't interested in hitting home runs won't get full value for money out of this.
After the disappointing Super League Baseball, Hardball comes as a breath of fresh air. It's not easy to get to grips with (expect to be thrashed by the computer the first few times!), but effort is rewarded with the fun of making that first home run. The animation of the pitcher and batter makes up for the otherwise poor graphics, and the options include changing everything from the quality of the opposition to the type of bats used. As with most sports games, Hardball is best played with another person; but this is still a good one-player game.