Sega's 1983 Champion Baseball
Play ball! At least that's what the voice in the game seems to be saying. But then, you can never really understand umpires anyway.

For the arcade, baseball has been stripped down to the basics - a pitcher vs. hitter duel. As the hitting team, you can change the lineup, hit, and run the bases. When hitting, you can only control where you stand in the batter's box, and when you swing. When running, you can decide to steal or try for extra bases.

When it's your team's turn to take the field, you only control pitching, and where the ball gets thrown when it's fielded. You have no control over where your fielders are, or who goes after the ball. The outfielders, except for throwing, are basically on automatic pilot. When pitching though, you can use the joystick to make the ball move all over the place.

The game is over when the other team has more runs than you, which will usually happen a lot sooner than you'd like it to. (Hint: set the "Difficulty" dip switch to "Easy" to make the game more playable.)

You can choose to be one of twelve teams. Only the cities are named, and the player names aren't real, so this is hardly a simulation. But the uniforms are vaguely colored to match the teams of the early 80's.

Despite being a very abstract version of the real game, Champion Baseball still manages to maintain a lot of the feel of baseball. The hitting and pitching, while simplistic, manage to capture the essence of that part of the game. Most plays are very close, as in real baseball, and real strategies generally apply to the game, too.

The graphics are serviceable, and fairly typical for the time. The sounds are generally okay, with the distorted voice of the umpire actually helping the feel of the game. There are a couple of really annoying issues though - the players all run painfully slow (you have no control over that) and the "clunk, clunk, clunk" sound they make when they run gets really old, really fast.

Missing Ingredient
More teams, for one thing. Even though everything is presented simplistically and there's not much difference between teams, it would be nice to have the option of selecting your favorites.

The biggest drawback though is that the game ends as soon as the other team is ahead, and there's no way to come from behind. This is one game that screams for a "buy-in" feature that would allow you to continue playing.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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