|Matthew Hubbard, Keithen
Hayenga, James Andreasen (Program), Jerome
Domurat (Graphics), and Frank Hausman (Voice)
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
||Baseball EPROM Cartridge 2-4-83
||Early version with different
||Baseball EPROM Cartridge
||Early version with no voice!
to 5200 Software