The Winter Meetings are over.
The Blue Jays are expected to be rather quiet the rest of the offseason.
It is getting colder and colder and colder outside.
After Christmas comes two full months of virtual darkness.
There are still 116 days until Opening Day.
Feeling down yet?
Well, what better way to brighten up winter and remind us of spring and the upcoming baseball season, then with a little video game action.
For the real gamer, there are all kinds of video games out there for XBox, PS3, and PC, headlined by MLB The Show and Out Of The Park (OOTP) Baseball.
But while those games are great, if you’re anything like me you prefer the simple games from yesteryear. The baseball video games that had simple controls. There were no hitter hot and cold zones, no swing type selection, no separate windows to focus on baserunner, no multi-pitch pitchers, and no complex controls. I’m talking about the games that used two buttons, “A” and “B”, games that made it possible to finish a 9-inning contest in less than 15 minutes.
And while there are a large variety of these games for the regular old Nintendo Entertainment System, only one stands the test of time.
I’m not talking about Bo Jackson Baseball.
I’m not talking about Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball.
I’m not talking about Bases Loaded, Basebal Stars, or Baseball Simulator 1.000.
I’m not even talking about one of the greatest and most classic game of all time, RBI Baseball.
No, only game has truly stood the test of time as a real classic:
Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball
It was a great game back in 1990 when it was released, and it remains a treat to this day.
For those unfamiliar with this piece of technological genius, let me explain.
Whereas other games allowed you to play real baseball, using real major league teams with real major league players, DDASS was a whole new ballgame. You had the ability to customize everything, and then play a thrilling game of softball in all of its 8-bit glory.
First was the option to choose fast pitch or slow pitch:
Then came the chance to choose your field:
But choose wisely – each field is different. The Sandlot is full of rocks that are, of course, in play. The Park has puddles and ponds interfering with fly balls. The Cliff literally has a cliff behind right field – any ground balls that roll over it are automatic ground rule doubles. The School has a quirk of its own too – break a window and your’e out, regardless whether the ball was a home run or not. The Island is a tropical paradise. Win a game on all five fields and your team earns a shot to play in the Stadium against a team of hard throwing women. Classic gaming.
But by far the best part of the game is picking your team. After choosing your field you are given the chance to pick your roster. There are 60 players to choose from, and the names will be unfamiliar. Instead of getting the choice between Darryl Strawberry, Don Mattingly, and Wade Boggs, you get to choose between Gary, Biff, Zelda, Clark, Rocky, Larry, and on and on…
Again, just like the fields, each player is different. Some have speed, some have power, some have great arms, some are great pitchers. And some are just plain weird.
Zelda is a witch who hits with a broom stick. Diablo is the devil who hits with a spiked club. Artie is a miner who uses a pick aze at the plate. Does it get any better than that?
Dusty Diamond’s All Star Softball was by far my favourite NES game as a kid, and it’s still fun to play every once in a while nowadays.
The best part?
You don’t even need a Nintendo to play it. Check out www.virtualnes.com to play this game and many other NES games from the early ’90’s.
But go ahead and try to play only one game of Dusty. I dare you.