To herald the start of the new baseball season in the USA, it seems fitting that Bases Loaded should get a Virtual Console release. When this was first released on the NES twenty years ago there wasn’t really much that came close to it. The simple, yet innovative gameplay struck a home run with baseball fans all over the world.
Like other baseball games of the era, Bases Loaded offers two gameplay options: you can play a single game against the CPU or a friend, or play through an entire season spanning over 100 games against 11 different fictitious teams.
Thankfully, unlike some sports games, it isn’t too hard to get to grips with the controls here. Batting is a straightforward affair and before long you will pick up on tells from the pitcher so you can predict what type of ball to expect. Pitching is simple too, and a bit of experimentation will allow you to pull off more challenging pitches for your opponent to hit.
Whilst the graphics predictably show their age, they were state of the art at the time the game was released. A nice innovation was a behind-the-pitcher camera view which gave a sense of realism to the proceedings. The music is nothing remarkable but there is some cool digitised speech from the umpire which would have no doubt impressed at the time as well.
If baseball is your thing, you could do a lot worse than Bases Loaded. It offers lots of replay value if playing with a friend, and if you are determined enough working through a season will no doubt take you several weeks of determined play. However, while Bases Loaded has aged gracefully and still offers a solid gaming experience, realistically you are going to probably get more enjoyment out of Baseball Stars 2 for the Neo Geo, which is also available on the Virtual Console. Nevertheless this is still worth considering as another take on the beloved American sport.