Developer: Culture Brain
Publisher: Culture Brain
Released: March 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-UB-USA
Supported Peripherals: Controller
ROM Size: 1 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)
Baseball Simulator 1.000 was developer and publisher Culture Brain’s first foray into video game sports, and served as the inaugural entry in the long running Ultra Baseball series that would ultimately see five sequels on the Super Famicom through 1995 (only one, Super Baseball Simulator 1.000, saw a US release on the Super NES). The major defining traits of the series began here, most notably the “Ultra League,” featuring players that could use superhero like power-ups to drastically alter the on-field play, and the ability to create and original team and use it to play an entire season with full stat-tracking (the only other NES game that allowed this was SNK’s Baseball Stars). The combination of these two elements make the game stand as a unique and innovative take on the genre when compared to all others of its day.
The player is given several options upon hitting Start at the title screen: Exhibition (play one no-stakes contest against a friend or the CPU), Season (choose between 5, 30, 60, or 165 game long season, with the choice to play each match or to allow the computer to simulate them), Edit (create custom players and teams), New League (put created teams into rotation), and Watch (watch the computer simulate a single game).
The rules for each game type are similar to standard baseball when using the standard teams. If playing with “Ultra League” teams, however, the power-ups that the player can activate dramatically shake things up. Pitchers can throw “ultra pitches,” allowing for the midair changing of direction and speed, alongside more creative powers, such as a fastball on fire, or a ball that disappears when approaching the plate. Batters can hit pitches that will cast multiple shadows on the field as the fielders scramble after it, pitches that turn the ball into a missile that will blast through fielders, and one that causes an earthquake, temporarily stunning the opposing team when it hits the ground. Finally, fielders are provided boosts to their jumping, speed, and throwing abilities to balance things out. Thankfully, these are kept fun and fair by a judicious point system – each usage of a power saps these points, and there is no way to refill them throughout the game, making the timing of usage key to winning.
The graphics are excellent, with bright colors and easily identifiable characters (who react at times to the action with hilariously overdramatic facial expressions), and flashy effects when an ultra move is used. Baseball Simulator 1.000‘s fielding “camera” deserves a mention of praise here: unlike many NES baseball games that suffer from an excessively zoomed in view that leaves the player unable to see important players while tracking the ball (Data East’s Bo Jackson Baseball, Jaleco’s Bases Loaded II: Second Season), most of the field is always visible here, ensuring that the player can see everything that is relevant. The music is equally as good, and changes constantly depending on the situation on field. There are no voice effects, but the provided sound effects are perfectly adequate. The batting and pitching controls are exceptional, being both intuitive and quick to respond.
Baseball Simulator 1.000 also has one particularly interesting undocumented feature: a detailed debug monitor exists within the game’s code, accessible with the use of a Game Genie and appropriate codes, allowing the player to view the games graphic assets by flipping through the CHR rom banks, and to display and hex dump anything in the cartridge’s data to screen.
With as excellent and deep of a game as Baseball Simulator 1.000 is, it’s a shame that it has not garnered more attention from baseball fans over the years. Despite the lack of affection it’s shown, Culture Brain’s sole NES sports game stands toe-to-toe with the best in the baseball genre, and is easily a lost classic of the 8-bit machine.
|Baseball Simulator 1.000
Culture Brain, 3/1990
|超人ウルトラベースボール (Choujin Urutora Beesubooru)
Superman Ultra Baseball
Culture Brain, 10/1989