The Majors Pro Baseball – Game Gear
Platform: Game Gear
Release Date (NA) 1992
Gene: Sports, Baseball
Rating: 6 out of 10
Sega’s Game Gear was a nice piece of machinery, especially next to its competitor (Nintendo’s Game Boy) but it wasn’t particularly revered for its selection of titles. Most Game Gear games I’ve played (which admittedly is not a whole lot) were either fairly boring or ports of popular Genesis games with simplified control schemes, smaller levels, less characters, and overall dumbed down gameplay. That’s not to say I didn’t have my fair share of fun with this handheld. I ended up playing The Majors Pro Baseball more than Sonic, both pack-ins whenever I was given the Game Gear as a youngster. I’m not the biggest fan of sports-based video games and even less of a fan of actual sports, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be baseball, in part due to knowing and understanding the rules quite well.
The Majors Pro Baseball is a standard baseball game based on the MLB’s roster for the 1991 season. Players are given the choice to either play as one of the real MLB teams or they can create their own all-star team from the decent database of players and their playing statistics located within the game. Since hitting the ball essentially boils down to a matter of timing it’s unknown to what if any degree the stats determine what happens when the ball is hit. It does however seem that players with higher batting averages or those in designated “clean-up hitter” slots in the batting rotation are slightly more likely to hit home runs. Attention is also given to how fast players are able to run (when on the offensive, at least) resulting in the ability to make game-changing decisions regarding stealing bases, sacrifice flies, and how many bases a specific hit is worth. Adjustments are sometimes made for players on an individual basis (for example, a player like Otis Nixon was well-known for stealing bases for the Atlanta Braves), but general rules were also applied. Most of the time outfielders were of above-average speed while pitchers and catchers rounded bases the slowest. I’ve never noticed a difference when the team is on the defensive.
Control of the defense in The Majors Pro Baseball is imperfect but serviceable. The AI is able to catch fly balls much easier than a human player. Throws and tags are handled relatively easily but the AI is able to pull off a number of fielding feats flawlessly. Although the computer does a good job at keeping a human opponent from scoring runs, it often falters at both pitching and batting leaving the human with more than enough wiggle room to consistently win games with a little patience.
The players don’t have exactly have faces (due to Game Gear cart space restrictions I’m sure) but The Majors Pro Baseball does throw in enough differences to keep everyone from looking completely similar. Differences in how the bat is held is the most noticeable with players also having different colored uniforms for home, away, and championship games. Little touches like this go a long way when utilized on a medium with limited capacity. Cut scenes showing a tired pitcher leaving the mound and fresh batters ready to step in and pinch hit add a pinch of the dramatic realism found in significant games.
The Majors Pro Baseball took its time when programming the numerous rules of baseball. One that stands out most involves the DH (designated hitter) rule. It preserves these differences in the AL and NL and when AL and NL teams are up against each other the location of the venue determines if the DH rule is enforced. I’ve yet to notice any discrepancies with official MLB rules. Besides playing individual exhibition games, the player can also choose to lead his or her team all the way through a pennant race (and hopefully further)! Since the player and the Game Gear will need several breaks over the 100+ games, there’s a handy auto-save feature in a time when saving was far from commonplace, especially in regards to handhelds.
The graphics are done well enough. There are games that make better use of the Game Gear’s potential but The Majors Pro Baseball keeps things simple and direct, without too much detail to distract one from gameplay or muddle up the screen. Sure, bigger and better baseball games have hit the shelves in the last 21 years, but a sports game that a total non-sports fan can enjoy is a fine accomplishment. Definitely a title to pick up if you’re looking for something decent on the Game Gear.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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