Virtual League Baseball
  • Genre:
    • Sports
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Kemco
  • Publisher:
    • Kemco
  • Released:
    • JP 08/11/1995
    • US 09/11/1995
Score: 50%

This review was published on 06/22/2016.

Virtual League Baseball is a sports video game developed and published by Kemco for the Virtual Boy. It was originally released in Japan on August 11, 1995, and North America on September 11, 1995. In Japan, the game is known as Virtual Pro Baseball '95. The game was first playable at 1995's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short. However, the E3 version was so poorly coded that it was basically impossible for the player to hit the ball. Further tarnishing the game's reputation was an infamous print advertisement featuring a photo of two fat guys exposing their butt cracks, complete with a caption that read "finally, baseball without the chili dog farts." That's the stellar marketing of the mid 1990s for you. A sequel by the obvious name of Virtual League Baseball 2 was planned, but ultimately got canceled due to the Virtual Boy's low sales. At any rate, this is a fairly average baseball game, just rendered in the Virtual Boy's disgusting red and black color scheme. The stereoscopic 3-D effects aren't good enough to justify the game's mediocrity.

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So there are a couple of differences between the Japanese and North American version of the game. The North American version has teams separated by country, like USA, Russia, Italy, Germany, and so on. On the other hand, the Japanese version only has Japanese teams playable, because Japan is extremely xenophobic. However, this isn't the biggest difference between the two versions. The biggest difference is the graphical look of the baseball players themselves. In the Japanese version, characters look very cartoony, sporting oversized heads and undersized bodies. Meanwhile, the North American version has realistic looking graphics, with proportional bodies for all the player characters. As a result of that, the Japanese visuals are a little more charming, whereas the realistic graphics of the American version make it more like a baseball simulation game. Which art style is better ultimately comes down to personal taste. The game play, however, remains mostly unchanged.

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Despite its virtual nature, this game functions much like real baseball. If you don't know how real baseball works, then let me explain. Everything in baseball revolves around batting and pitching. Batting is done by batters, who use a wooden stick referred to as a bat to hit the ball thrown at them by the pitcher. If the batter misses the ball, a person called a catcher will, well, catch the ball, and the batter will earn a strike. Three strikes means the current batter is out and the next one in line gets tagged in. Three outs and the other team will get a chance to bat. Once a batter hits the ball, he'll get the opportunity to run across the field, and if he does a full loop around before the other team catches and returns the ball, then the batter's team is awarded a point. This cycle repeats for nine "innings," and the team with the most points at the end is victorious. The rules are far more complicated than that, but this is a simple summary.

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The game play is divided into two main portions: pitching and batting. Obviously, the controls are different for each segment. When pitching, you press left or right on the left d-pad to position the pitcher, then A to start the pitch. At that point, a growing and shrinking meter will appear, and pressing A again will stop the meter and cause the pitcher to throw the ball. Depending on where the meter stops, the ball will be thrown at different speeds, with a bigger meter leading to a faster ball. Stopping the meter at the wrong time will cause you to ruin your throw, though. It's also possible to throw the ball using the B button, which causes it to go towards the ground. Further, you can hold down different directions on the left d-pad during a pitch to slightly manipulate the throw. If the opposing team's batter hits your ball, then you'll have to chase after it by using the left d-pad, and once you've got it, you use the A button to throw it back. The actual pitching itself works fine, but running around on the field is slow and awkward.

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Batting follows a similar process to pitching, as you're able to position the batter with the left d-pad first, then you press A to swing the bat. In addition to timing the swing properly, you can also hold up or down on the left d-pad during a swing to change its height. Pressing the L or R button will cause you to do a bunt. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, a bunt is when the batter holds out the bat in front of them in an attempt to hit the ball without swinging. After you hit the ball, you make your dudes run to the desired bases by holding down the appropriate direction on the left d-pad and pressing the B button to advance a base and the A button to retreat. Batting is really easy and actually kind of fun, but the running part feels clunky. It's not always clear what direction you need to hold down on the d-pad, and it takes a while for things to respond.

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There are three modes in this game. The first is called Player 1 vs. Computer, and it's basically a free play match where you get to pick both your team and the computer's. You're able to rearrange the players around in your team, as well. The second mode is All-Star Game, and as its name implies, you choose from one of the three league's all-star teams and then go up against a league of your choosing. The third and last mode is Pennant Race, which is kind of like a tournament where you play against other teams within your own league, and then you face off against the champions of the other two leagues. If you manage to beat all the leagues, you'll eventually go up against some special teams. You can use passwords in the Pennant Race mode to continue from where you last left off. And that's all she wrote.

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Technically, this is the best baseball game on the Virtual Boy, but that's because it's the only one on the system. This isn't one of the better baseball games, nor is it one of the better Virtual Boy games. It's pretty average all around. The graphics and game play are bland, and the 3-D effects aren't very good. With that said, this isn't the worst baseball game ever. It has decent controls and is fairly easy to get into, even for baseball novices. However, you're still better off trying something that won't make your eyes bleed.

Word Count: 1,134

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