RealSports Baseball

Name:

RealSports Baseball

Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-5209
Programmers:
Keithen Hayenga & James Andreasen (Program), Jerome Domurat (Graphics), and Frank Hausman (Voice)
Year: 1983
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Originally called All-Star Baseball

 

When you look back on the history of baseball games on classical home consoles one problem always seems to pop up, bad controls!  Most systems of the time had one or (if you were really lucky) two buttons to control all the various throws, pitches, swings, and players in the game.  Needless to say most of these control schemes got complicated quickly.  Some companies came out of special controllers (like Coleco's Super Action Controller) to solve this problem, but even these controllers quickly became a complicated nuisance.  But for once the 5200 controller had an advantage over the other controllers, it's keypad!  This keypad helped turn what could have been a mediocre baseball game into one of the best sports games Atari ever made.

 

The keypad allows the player to choose up to nine different pitches as well as the option of winding up for the pitch or not.  These different pitching options keep the game fresh and your opponent guessing.  The batter has three different types of swings as well as bunting at his disposal.  Swinging is handled by pulling the joystick to the left to raise the bat and then pushing right to swing the bat.  This back and forth motion coupled with the bat-like shape of the joystick handle makes it feel like you really are swinging a baseball bat.  The non-centering joystick makes for a swinging motion that has yet to be duplicated on any home system.

 

Of course what makes RealSports Baseball really special is the voice.  Atari wanted to introduce voice to its game, but without the use of expensive add-on units like Mattel had done with the Intellivision.  Programmer Frank Hausman was able to adapt a voice compression algorithm developed by Electronic Speech Systems into the game so speech could be played without over taxing the processor (resulting in either choppy gameplay or breaks in the voice).  RealSports Baseball has several phrases including "Yer Out", "Ball", "Foul", "Foul Ball", "Walk", and "Home Run", all of which are clear and audible.  If the voice sounds familliar, its because it's that of San Francisco radio legend Scott Beach.

 

With its easy to learn controls and tight gameplay, RealSports Baseball is on the best classic baseball games out there.  Although it can be played against the computer (who has a pretty good AI), RS Baseball is best when played against another player.  RS Baseball shows that the 5200 wasn't all about arcade games, and was capable of broadening its horizons.

 

Version Cart Text Description
2/4/83 Baseball EPROM Cartridge 2-4-83 Early version with different voice
2/17/83 Baseball EPROM Cartridge 2-17-83 Early version with no voice!
3/21/83 Baseball 3-21 Mid-level WIP
6/18/83 Baseball 6-18  
7/19/83 Baseball 7-19 Almost complete
7/28/83 Baseball 7-28-83 Final version

 

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