Hey, kids! How would you like to revisit a game from the Game Boy's early years that wasn't very good to begin with and, in addition, has aged horribly? Sounds exciting, we know, but it gets better: the only marginally redeeming feature of the game – the ability to play it with your friends – has been disabled, leaving only a poorly-controlled, tedious, totally pointless single player game in its place!
If any of this sounds appealing, Baseball on the 3DS Virtual Console is the game for you.
The object of the game should be familiar to anyone who has played or watched the sport, so it's not worth recounting the rules here. Suffice to say that baseball (the sport) consists of three main activities: pitching, hitting and fielding, and Baseball (the game) mangles them terribly.
Pitching is an exercise in first-order tedium. You can vary the speed of your pitches but, ultimately, you're just pitching endlessly toward a computer-controlled player that either hits or misses as a result of the random number generator. Very little that you do has any kind of impact on what follows, which sort of sets the tone for the release: why bother?
The AI also has a nasty habit of "donating" home runs to the computer-controlled team if it falls too far behind. It doesn't always happen, but, when it does, it comes in waves. This would still make for nice practice, at least, if you were just killing time between games with friends, but since that mode isn’t available in this release, there's really no point in boring yourself.
Hitting is a little more exciting, emphasis on the "little". You at least get to react in some way to something that's happening on the screen, so that's an improvement, we guess. It's mainly timing-based and there's not much to say about it, beyond the fact that it's incredibly dull.
Fielding is a nightmare. If you're fielding, your team looks like it consists of legless insects suffering from spasms, with no hope of catching a slow pop fly that lands 15 feet from where they were standing. If the computer is fielding, their team consists of elegant gazelles that have no difficulty making it anywhere your ball is headed. Once again, this handicap would be much less irritating if you had the option to play with a human being instead but - say it with us now - that feature is no longer included.
The visual presentation is simple, but nothing charming or memorable. Music is relegated to periodic fanfare and the sound effects are less than annoying, which, when it comes to this game, actually qualifies as a plus. We'd discuss Baseball's other features here, but there aren't any, so enjoy playing the same uncustomizable game over and over against an AI opponent that doesn't care if you live or die.
Baseball was never a good game, but the ability to play it with friends meant it was a functional addition to any Game Boy library. Stripped of that feature the game stands naked with all of its flaws exposed, and it's difficult to be even slightly forgiving. There may be a limited amount of vintage games available in the eShop, but it's impossible to see why anybody would want to spend their money on this. Even nostalgia won't help; this is not the game you remember. Any fond memories you have of Baseball include a second player, we can assure you. This one is not worth chasing.