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Evolution of Baseball Video Games: VideoCart 12 – Baseball

Game Info

Name : VideoCart 12 – Baseball
System: Fairchild VES (ala Channel F)
Released: 1977

First 5 Minutes

I managed to connect everything and boot up this game. I didn’t know what to do at first there was just a red 1 in the center of the screen. I took the game out and read the label. What a nice concept having a quick ‘how to play’ guide right there on the actual cart. To start each inning both players had to press down on the controller. So I guess this game is two players only.

Graphics

The screen looks pretty good. There is color, the teams are blue and green and the game info such as the baseball,innings,outs and score is in red. There are a total of 9 players on defense and each of the bases are displayed as blue rectangles. The base players are right next to the base and as such because there is no separation the bases look like a giant left foot. They probably should have gone with red for the bases. The players look human, there are no curves in the game so the players are blocky and the baseball itself is a square. When the ball passes home plate there remains a ghost trail as though the ball cuts through the plate. When the strike is recorded, the screen refreshes. I am not sure if this is an actual bug or a genius way for the computer to show that the ball actually crossed the plate for the strike. The batter can’t really argue ball and strikes. Bud Selig should invent something like this.

Players

All the players look the same, while this era is before the concept of graphic sprites, if it was I would say this game only has one sprite for the players. The players are all the same color from head to toe, either blue or green, no face and no real uniform. There are no animations in terms of the base running. The players don’t run to each base, instead you just see them jump to base to base after a screen refresh. The batter does not move while swinging, Only the bat. The animation of the bat reminds me of the old  Golf game for the Atari 2600

Field

There is no baseball diamond graphic, the background is slightly grey, maybe with a green tint to it? The difference between the infield and outfield doesn’t exist. Just the background, players and bases are on the screen.

Fans

There is no fans, we should be lucky there are 9 players out on the field and look sort of human.

Home Run Celebration

There is no cut scene or alternate camera angle for a home run. You do see the player touch all the bases and the score increase.

Camera/Screen

There are two separate screens. One is the actual game play and the other is displayed between innings. In the later the number of the innings is displayed in the center of the screen with each team’s score on the bottom left or right. Once the game is over instead of an inning number, the letter ‘G’ is displayed. I am going to assume that stands for ‘Game’

Sound

I have the original Fairchild VES system which the speaker is built into the system itself and does not go through the TV screen. However I was unable to hear anything at all. I looked over the system and couldn’t find a volume control. It would be nice to hear sound but I am going to assume it would sound like R2-D2 but less ‘wordy’

Game Play

Defense

The player controls the three outfielders and shortstop all as one unit. If you move left the entire unit moves left…etc. If one of your fielders touches the ball it is considered an out. As the pitcher you don’t move the actual pitcher, you just press on the joystick to start the pitch. However with the controller you have ultimate control of the ball. Twist the joystick to put English on it. Press forward to speed it up, press down to slow it down. This control of the baseball laid the ground work of all future baseball games.

Offense

I can tell right away that this game is a defense minded baseball game. There is really nothing the offense can do besides swing the bat by pressing down on the joystick. I was unable to control the base runners. It does appear as though the speed of the ball once it leaves the bat determines if it is a single, double, triple or a home run. It is a theory I have established while playing. I managed to hit the ball at the same spot multiple times with different results. Who knows maybe it is completely random.

Rules of Baseball

This game manages to follow the general basic rules of Baseball. There is 9 innings,3 outs per half innings, 3 strikes and 4 passed balls. The batter can hit a single,double,triple and home run.

It does not perform any ‘advanced’ baseball concepts besides the basic rules stated above. There is no such thing as a double play, base stealing, or a infield hit, wild pitch…etc with one exception.. In this game, if you hit the batter with the ball it is an automate walk to first base. For me that is an advanced baseball concept and nice to see they included that in this game. There doesn’t appear to be any charging of the mound though. If this game had a sequel I have no doubt they would include something like that and dethrone Bases Loaded as the first game to do so.

Video Game Innovations

  • players displayed on screen
  • color separation between each team on screen
  • baseball was played vertically. pitch from center to the bottom, a hit ball travels from the bottom towards the top. previous baseball games used the standard pong paddles and ball moving left to right.
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