Total time played: 50 hours
Short review: To pick up and play a single game with a friend can provide some mild entertainment. But, if you try to play through a season you are going to quickly learn to hate this slog of a baseball game and look for any shortcuts to end games quickly.
Interesting links related to Bases Loaded
Fun For 1 Game
Bases Loaded is a game that every 80’s kid either had or knew someone that had it. It is a huge step above Nintendo’s original Baseball but still very dated. I hadn’t played the game in over 20 years until my friend Aaron game to visit and we played through a game against each other. We both had a lot of fun but not enough fun to play a second game.
To beat Bases Loaded you need to win an entire season. In real baseball that means 162 games. But, thankfully Bases Loaded doesn’t require that, you just have to win 80 games out of 132 game season. But, since the game only remains fun and interesting for 1 game playing through 80 games was a huge chore. On top of this, because the game is trying to be a realistic representation of a baseball game it is very slow, taking around 30 minutes to play one game.
I knew this was going to be a long slog to beat so I wanted to make it as short as possible. I ended up reading reviews and watching videos for any tips to make the game shorter. My main source was from Arnpoly’s Take on the NES Library.
Arnpoly played through the game recently with the Omaha team so I decided to do the same. It wasn’t until I was 10 games into the season that I realized Omaha is not a great team, so, playing with Omaha is like playing on hard difficulty. But, I wasn’t about to play through those first 5 hours again so I was stuck with Omaha.
I’m not sure if it was intentional or a glitch, but, luckily some smart gamers discovered that many pitchers have a pitch that is un-hittable by the other team. For the Omaha team both Foot and Waters have a pitch that cannot be hit.
Foot’s pitch is performed by pressing Down and Left + A before starting the windup and then Down and Right before the pitch is released. It took me several games to realize that the best practice is to release Down and Left for a split second and then hit down and right. I originally tried to slide from Down and Left to Down and Right without ever lifting my thumb off of the directional pad. Doing this motion meant about half of the time the super pitch failed and the batter would hit the ball. When done correctly the super pitch works until Foot gets tired in or around the 5th inning. There is no physical indication that the pitcher is tired, but, the other team will start hitting the ball eventually and that is how you know it is time to switch pitches.
Once Foot is tired he has a second secret pitch that is performed by pressing Down + A before starting the windup and then pressing Right on the directional pad before the pitch is released. These two pitches combined can get me into the 7th or 8th inning. Once the second pitch stops working I switch over to another pitcher, Waters.
Waters has the same Down + A and then Right pitch as Foot. So, combining these two pitchers gets me through every game. I did not throw 80 no-hitters because it is hard to perfectly execute over all 9 innings but it was good enough to go undefeated (80-0) during the season.
The Glitch Quit Working
Bases Loaded is pretty realistic, in fact, after every pitch you have to wait for the catcher to throw the ball back to the pitcher. This is a nice touch that gets old midway through the first inning on opening day.
Anyway, the game is also so realistic that after a game the pitcher you used in that game becomes unavailable for the next 2 games meaning I had to play several games using pitchers who I could not find their secret un-hittable pitch.
What I learned was my new technology was cheating me out of using the same pitcher every game. After each game a scoreboard shows your record and a password so you can pick up where you left off next time you play. I decided to use my Retron 5 to create a save at the end of each game so I didn’t have to type in a password every time I turned on the game. As I stated, I was trying to make this game as short as possible and saving 1 minute each time I turned on the game by loading my latest save state instead of typing in a password would save me almost 1.5 hours over the course of the game.
But, I then learned that entering the password lets you start where you left off but the password isn’t long enough to store who you used to pitch in the last game. What this means is I could use my Foot/Waters combo in every game. This ended up saving me much more time over the 80 games than not entering the password.
Just a few other fun things I saw why playing the game:
- I once returned to first base on a pop fly thinking the defense would catch the ball, I was wrong. When the ball dropped I tried to run to second but two runners were on first base and there was no way to separate them. Both runners ran together and were both thrown out at second base.
- A few times I would hit a ground ball to the pitcher and he would just hold it allowing me to run around the bases for an easy inside the park homerun.
- Only 3 of my players hit homeruns throughout the season. The cleanup hitter, which was expected), the #7 batter who had 25 homeruns and the pitcher who had a .192 average and 0 homeruns. The pitcher also hit the longest homeruns of anyone.
- If a runner scores with two outs and on the same play the batter is thrown or tagged out the run still counts as long as the runner was tagged after the other runner scores. I haven’t followed real baseball in years but am almost positive the run doesn’t count if the 3rd out of the inning is recorded on the same play as another runner scoring.
Again, trying to get through the game as quickly as possible meant I needed to score runs early and then just get out on purpose as I knew the other team wouldn’t score with my pitching trick. If I was lucky I would score a run or two in the first inning and just coast through the rest of the game by bunting every pitch. If you can hit the bunt on the first pitch it saves you around 40 pitches per game, and each of those pitches requires the throw back to the pitcher. So, the time savings really adds up.
Batting isn’t so bad and is probably the most fun part of the game. The catcher will move his glove as the pitch comes into home plate and you move the D-Pad to where the glove is and press A to swing when the ball’s shadow is over home plate. It definitely takes a while to get used to. If I hadn’t been focusing on scoring 1 run and then bunting the next 20+ batters I think I could have gotten really good at hitting.
In most baseball games that came before and after this one the view you see while playing is from behind home plate looking out at the pitcher and field. Bases Loaded flips this and your view is from behind the pitcher looking into home plate. It is a bit odd since really no other game does this but that is what makes the game unique.
On top of this, while running bases the controls seem weird at first. B advances the runner and A makes him go back to the previous base. you control which runner moves by pressing the direction of the base the runner is currently on. For example, a runner on first bases who you want to run to 2nd base requires you to press B+Right. Most other games require you to press a button plus the base you want the runner to go to (in this scenario B+Up). Other than these minor things the game controls how you expect it to.
For me, the most fun part of watching/playing baseball as a kid was keeping track of stats. Who hit the most HR’s, who has the highest batting average, etc. Bases Loaded has some cool features where players get tired and you can sub in new players which is rare for a game of this era. Each player has a batting average and home run total but these numbers are static. That means the first game of the season and the 80th game of the season you are looking at the exact same stats for your players. I know these early NES games couldn’t have handled the amount of computer power and storage space needed for stats and that is a huge downer for me in this game. It removed all incentive to play the game for real and made me focus even more on beating it as quickly as possible.
No Hitters and Triple Plays
Even with the pitching glitch I mentioned above you have to pitch perfectly to keep the other team from getting a hit. After about 30 games I realized the controller I was using was worn out so using a different controller greatly increased the number of no hit games I had.
It took 27 wins but I finally threw a no hitter.
Around 25 games in I got a triple play which I don’t think I have ever done in a video game before. The bases were loaded and the batter popped a fly ball to second base. I caught the ball and was close enough to step on second base to get the runner out who was halfway between 2nd and 3rd. I then threw the ball to first base before that runner could return to the bag. It was a very satisfying series of events after giving up 3 hits and having the bases loaded with no outs.
Just a few more of my 20+ no hitters. Also, what does “YUK DUM BOO BUM” mean?
Slow and Steady
Some NES games are really hard and I would play for days never making any progress. These are the most frustrating of all NES games. Bases Loaded is not this kind of game. Bases Loaded requires nothing but a lot of time and persistence to beat. After learning about the super pitch and getting the hang of hitting, the game produces absolutely no challenge.
In fact, for almost every game I played I was either listening to podcasts or watching TV shows on my laptop. While I complained the entire time I played through the game it is nice to have the time to veg out and just relax while still slowly making progress through the game.
Famous retro gamer and speedrunner, The Mexican Runner, was the first person I ever heard of that beat every NES game. He recorded his entire journey so watching him play through games is where I do a lot of my research on how to best beat these games. His website is super detailed with stats from his journey to beat every game. The most interesting stat about Bases Loaded is that it took him 46 hours to beat. That is the 3rd longest game out of every game on the system. This gives me great satisfaction to know there are only two games longer than this one left on my journey, Miracle Piano (Where I will actually learn to play piano) and Might and Magic (which I know nothing about).
However, with that good news comes really bad news. There are 4 Bases Loaded games on the NES and they are all very long. So, even though I’ve beaten the longest and most boring of the bunch there is still a lot more Bases Loaded in my future.
I am both very proud to have finally finished Bases Loaded and I am very embarrassed that I’m pushing 40 years old and spent 50 hours playing a 30 year old NES game that just isn’t that fun. I feel like the semester of a really easy yet boring class has just ended.
I highly recommend playing through a game or two with a friend, but, I would never wish playing through an entire season on my worst enemies.