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Baseball


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Rating: 3.4/5 (152 votes)
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dancemonkeyBaseballYou might not know this, but I have 21-month-old son. He's not quite old enough to show any interest in baseball, but he sure does love it when I sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." The song captures the essence of the sport beautifully and makes me long to be sitting in a stadium cheering on my favorite team.

Luke Whittaker's latest game Baseball does exactly the same thing. It's a stripped-down baseball sim where you simply bat and run, which—if we're being honest with ourselves—is all we really want out of a baseball video game anyway.

You're given a choice between Arcade mode and Bottom of the Ninth mode. In Arcade, you're given 10 pitches to score as high as possible by trying to hit the ball close to a target in the field. Bottom of the Ninth mode is the real nail-biter, in which it is naturally the bottom of the ninth inning, and you're down by several runs and must use your superior batting and running skills to climb out of the hole and win the game.

BaseballIn each game mode the basic hitting mechanic is the same: once the ball leaves the pitcher's hand you're presented with a cross-hair target that indicates where the ball will cross the plate. Using your mouse move the circle to the cross-hairs and click on the left mouse button, timing it just right so your bat meets the ball over the plate. By aiming higher and lower of the center of the target you can try to hit a line drive or a fly ball, and by aiming left or right you can hook or slice the ball the opposite direction. A red "landing zone" indicator gives you some guidance as to where the ball may land in the field.

Once the ball leaves your bat, you run automatically to first base. When you get close to the base you're given a "Slide" button near the runner that you can click to, you know, slide. Once you're safely at the bag you can click a "Run" button that pops up if you want to keep running. The computer automatically fields the ball of course, and will try to throw you out at the nearest base.

Analysis: Luke Whittaker's Baseball is easily one of the best online baseball games I've ever played. The gameplay mechanics do a perfect job of capturing what it feels like to be several runs behind in the final innings of a ball game, and have only three outs to fashion a miraculous come-from-behind victory.

The graphics are superb, and even better is the sound. Luke has included many different cracks-of-the-bat sound effects, and you can very quickly get a feel for the strength and effectiveness of the hit from the sound effect alone. Your heart sinks when you hear the weak "crunk" sound of the ball hitting near the handle of the bat, and watch in dismay as the shortstop plucks the ball out of midair. You similarly cheer inside when hearing a good, solid "THWACK!" and you know your hit is headed into home-run territory.

My only problems with the game are minor. First, it's hard, at least at first. The first few times I played I felt like I could never get a man on base, much less score. Second, I came across somewhat of a bug, or hopefully an unusually rare occurrence.

At my fourth at-bat (you can get further at-bats if you tie the game: the computer gets an imaginary "at-bat" in which it scores more points, giving you another scoring target to hit) I tied up yet again, with two outs still left, then cracked a good solid high line-drive to left field. The left fielder overran the ball and wound up at the outfield wall, while the ball bounced a couple times and stopped in the middle of the grass. I kept running, rounded second, kept running, heading into home, and scored! I won! Except I realized that no one had chased down the ball. No one. Since no one chased the ball, no one threw the ball back to the infield. The game never ended. I won, but the game wouldn't advance to the "You Won!" screen. The ball had probably landed on that magic pixel in between fielders where no one wanted to chase it down.

I don't think that ever happens in real baseball.

There are also a few liberties taken with the rules of course, which given the nature of the game doesn't really affect your play. The fielding is also sometimes quirky (see above), but that seems to be a necessary compromise to keep the game simple, fast, and fun.

A couple of suggestions: play once on "Easy" so you can get a feel for where the strike zone is. That's all you'll need. Move up to Medium or Hard after that, where you're given a higher score to beat. Overall I wasn't too enthusiastic about Arcade mode, though I guess that's a good place to make and compare scores. Also, you can press the [spacebar] as an alternative to pressing the "Next Pitch" button, as Luke himself points out in the comments. Let's play Baseball!

Play Baseball

34 Comments

okay, I hate baseball but I totally love this game.

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What an awesome game. I was just on LW's site yesterday, and I didn't see this...new as in brand new, or did I just miss it?

Either way, great find. I'm sure your kid'll be playing it (and the real thing) in no time.

Cheers.

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i have to disagree with jay on this one because i am not much of a fan of it. too many things in this game bug me.
its too slow moving, i don't want to click next pitch after each unsuccessful swing or after a hit. nor do i like the generosity of how the base running and out system was made to simplify the game. other than those its great, but i would much rather play a full 9 innings of both offense and defense in maybe an update?

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Jay did not write this review, dancemonkey did.

You can tell it's a different author by the little picture displayed just underneath the title of the game, and the name of the author is displayed above the picture in case there's any question about who it really is.



In terms of the changes made to simplify the game, I'm all for them because sports games, in general, are way too complex to have any fun with them.

This is coming from a HUGE Baseball fan and a quintessential casual gamer.

A full 9 innings playing both offense and defense and I'd have lost my mind, not to mention my attention long before the 7th inning stretch.

Go Red Sox!!! :D

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Mandypoo July 6, 2007 1:06 AM

Did you know the two guys that wrote the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" had never been to a baseball game?

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I agree that it's too slow moving. If you don't get enough runs you have to restart the entire game to try again.

Also, as a baseball fan the inconsistencies really got on me. For example, why does the baserunner take off on contact with less than two outs, thus guaranteeing a double play? Why did a run count after the final out was made by a ground out to first? And it's basically impossible to ever get a multi-base hit (other than home run of course) because the runners are too slow.

Overall a good-looking game but the slowness and the rule violations ruined it for me.

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I agree with seldumonde, why do runs count after the final out?

I just had bases loaded with two outs and I was down by one. My batter hit a pop fly to right field, which was caught. Did I lose? No.

The runners kept running, I scored the runners from second and third and the runner on first was thrown out at second.

4 outs! I won!

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Cheering worked really well (accuracy = more cheers). Really made me want to improve :-)

No "sound off" button.

Too slow - very irritating! I didn't like having to click the button in the far corner to start again, either. I'm lounge-style casual.

The game-play was kind of weird - I think:
- left-right controls direction (relative to the cross-hairs, which are different for each pitch). The destination is represented by that red area.
- up down controls distance (but the red area doesn't show this...)
- hitting earlier/later control spin of the ball, for hook or slice, and also interacts with distance.

This interaction of hook/slice with distance and direction is a bit tricky to get just right, even on the easiest level... so I couldn't score a bulls eye (got the second best one tho).

I've never played baseball, so I don't have an intuition or sense for this interaction - and the game is too slow moving for me to want to learn it.
And maybe actually too hard, on the easiest level - shouldn't it be ridiculously easy?

The most important part of the learning curve to be shallow is the very beginning...

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[a minor annoyance with the commenting system:] when you type a comment and try to submit it, but find that you have to sign in - when you come back, your comment is gone! It would be nice if it stayed, instead of the user having to remember to cut and paste.

A great system in other ways tho :-)

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Naz Nomad July 6, 2007 10:00 AM

This game is easy to beat if you remember two things:

1. Never take an extra base...the fielder will always throw you out. 2. Ignore where your red circle is and just try to hit the ball into the gap in left field every time.

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I just hit a ground ball up the middle for a base hit - the pitcher chased it into centerfield to cut it off, while the second baseman stood like a statue on second!

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"Innings" as the singular form ... "batsmen" instead of "batters" ...

Just what crazy British sport do these folks think they're playing here?

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I guess I agree with most comments, both good and bad, but mainly the comment about having to hit "Next Pitch" every time. What I did like about that one though is it takes the place of a Pause function. Add Pause, take out Next Pitch.

It's hilarious that even a stripped-down, sped-up version of baseball with the most boring aspects removed is being complained about as being too slow. I don't disagree with you, it's definitely not an action game. Just funny since that's baseball's main Achilles Heel in general.

All in all, I think if you just relax and enjoy the crack of the bat you'll have a good time.

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Too much effort spent on ESPN-style graphics package, and far too little on the gameplay -- for all of the reasons listed already.

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Beauty of a game and fun gameplay. I've come back to it multiple times since the review.

A few things, taking an extra base isn't too difficult if you exploit the fact that the fielder will not use a cut-off man. For example, if you wait until the fielder throws to first for your first at bat, you can outrun that long throw and get over to second. Be warned though, at one point while doing this the game 'forgot' that it needed to place a runner from home plate to first, the fielder threw to first and then the pitcher threw to first as well. No man on, no out.

As stated, runner speed to ball-thrown speed seems off. Why is the pitcher running into shallow out field to field my ball? Also, if you exploit the corners a lot of fair balls will be marked as foul. My last score to win the game should trigger the roar of the crowd. The audience isn't that dim that they can't understand what is going on and keeps quiet until the scoreboard informs them of the score. Well, most audiences. I also didn't like the idea of having to move my cursor to the right corner for every pitch. If you're working the count (and you should) you could be hitting that next pitch button multiple times a batter.

Give us more modes, arcade is fun, but a home run hitting mode would be nice. I'd also like to see a meter that shows me how soon or late I missed the sweet spot.

Lots of potential and quite possibly the best looking and most fun baseball game I've ever played online. This is something I would look forward to seeing an update to, and quite possibly a game I would consider buying.

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Moimeme July 6, 2007 2:09 PM

I think this game is a great one! Awesome graphics and generally a very nice feel. Great concept.

That said, this game could use a real physics tune up and some general baseball guidance. How many times does a runner get thrown out at first on a single to right? Once a season?

Play should end at 3 outs... i have gone up to 5 outs before screen changes.

Sometimes it is tricky to get the players to run -- need multiple clciks.

Would be nice to be able to click them to go back to the bag, but once they are running -- they are running.

Throws from field are a bit too fast or runners are a bit too slow.

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The sound of the ball coming off the bat on a good hit, is great...

Too Easy on easy mode... too slow on Hard mode.
If they had an option to be the pitcher, that would be great too (Go to candystand.com for a great pitching game)

And you are right Jay...
Go Sox!! I am wearing my Sox hat as i type this out...

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I wish it played longer. I'd like to go a whole 9.

However, the more I played, the more bugs I found. For instance, in hard, at about 5-6 runs scored, the game would no longer tally strikes or balls, or let the batter run to first (he just wouldn't show up). The other runners could move (and get tagged out) but first would show up empty. Sometimes, the batter would be tagged out at first. Sometimes, he'd apparently be safe, but when the game switched back to batting, it was the same guy, and first was empty. Once, the right fielder actually missed the throw the third, sending the ball into the stands, which allowed me to run in the guys on second and first, but didn't let me go to bat again. I had to refresh to get out. Fun game, fun to play.

I had tremendous success hitting the ball into left or right field. Sometimes, if it connected right, you'd get homeruns easier too (a number of grand slams). I don't recommend stealing bases, but you can pick up a double if you hit it deep right field and it bounces off the wall. Just slide into each base to pick up extra time

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This game is pretty easy. I never hit a home run, but I loaded the bases on singles and worked the count to win the game on runs walked. There's nobody in the bullpen I guess.

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Also! Pretty funny bugs in the game...I hit to second base over and over. The pitcher ran out to 2nd to field and makes the late throw to 2nd. I don't remember any of the basemen moving off their bags. Watch out for that shortstop though!
On the third out, I fanned strike 3...but I got one more pitch to the next batter before I 'lost.'
So, homerun glory still eludes me. Is it swinging at the right time that is so important, or do you need to bullseye the ball too?

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lavkian Author Profile Page July 8, 2007 7:35 AM

This doesn't hold a candle to Wii Sports Baseball, and even that isn't that great of a game simply because there's no fielding.

But at least in that game, solid-sounding hits get outside the diamond.

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Grand Slam! I win!

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Luke Whittaker July 10, 2007 10:27 AM

<From the game designer>

Thanks everyone for the kind remarks, and the constructive criticism, it's great to hear what you think about the game, and all of it will go into improving any further versions made. In answer to some of the points made...

Yes, the rules have been simplified, and a few liberties taken. In part this was to make it simpler to play - the idea was to create a game which could be picked up and played by those without too much knowledge of the game, as well as leaving enough there to satisfy those who love it. Without the budget of an EA Sports-style game, decisions had to be made about what to leave in and take out, although I knew it would always be a tricky balance to strike. The closer the running mechanic got to the real game rules, the tougher it would get to pick up and play (and the more expensive it would have got to make too). Having said that, I think the comments here definitely mention some improvements which would be great to make, in particular turning runners back, slowing down the throws, and allowing the fielders on the bases to field the ball themselves. It's good to know that it's left some people wanting more at least (or beating the desk in frustration), and all this feedback will be used to develop any later version should one go ahead.

Thanks also for noting those bugs you found, I'll look into them, and hope they haven't spoilt your enjoyment of the game.

By the way, you can press 'Space' instead of clicking on 'Next Pitch' every time - that should have been in the instructions icons underneath the game window but for some reason wasn't put in at Miniclip.

Glad it's been enjoyed!

Luke

Luke Whittaker

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Too many bugs to list but I will try a short list:

Strike zone is not applied correctly. Pitches clearly outside strike zone, to the inside mainly, are called strikes. Either zone is not correct or plate is too small.

Infield players chase ball to outfield. Have seen short stop run to left-center and catch ball. Even the pitcher has chased down a ball into right field.

Runner at first "always" runs on pop fly. Runners in other positions wait until clicked to run. Runners cannot be called back once they run.

Pitches change speed at times mid-flight.

Outfield players too fast. In fact all fielders out run player runners. Right field fielder can run from far right field into infield, field and throw out player to first. This should not be possible. Because of fielder speed attempting extra base hits are near impossible.

Also, throws from outfield disproportionate to throws made by infield. Infielder throws are normal speed while outfield throws are 2-3 times faster. Also making extra base hits near impossible as well.

As others have said, bugs appear aggressively after 5-6 runs are scored in hard setting. Runners disappear and cannot be advanced around bases. Strikes not counted and if 4 balls are awarded play cannot continue as runner will not appear to take first. Any strike resets ball count to 0 strikes 0 balls.

Ground balls cannot be executed. Even swinging high over ball path results in pop flys.

This could be a fun game, but the numerous bugs make playing the game infuriating as the game appears to cheat to win.

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john todd July 12, 2007 4:24 PM

Love the game for the most part except for those pesky bugs...one that really gets to me: 2 men on base, pop up to the pitcher, and Wham triple play...happens 1 out of 3 games I play. Triple play in real game play should rarely ever happen. Also, outfielders should never throw someone out at first base. many other bugs have been mention before. The game itself is really good. I am glutton for punishment...I keep playing.

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you can take extra bases on this game, but only if your runner gets to first base at the same time the outfielder at left gap wall picks up the ball. That is when you run to second. Any other situation and you're thrown out.

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This game has exelent graphics and it well pictured... but the details in the game REALLY need to be looked at because they are nothing like the real rules in baseball....If the real rules were applied then it would make the game funner,

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Luke Whittaker July 26, 2007 1:00 PM

<From the game creator>

Thanks all who've pointed out the bugs. The bug mentioned in the main review has been fixed now.

Luke
Luke Whittaker

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I really like this game. Kind of makes me wish there was more of it. It's really difficult to reach an extra base and the runners don't seem to have much common sense, but other than that, it's Flash baseball at it's very best; and the batting system is so sweet that (unlike console baseball), I wouldn't mind 9 full innings of it. Thanks for a great game, Luke, keep 'em coming!

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 7:43 PM

Go Red Sox!!! WOOT!!!!!!

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I like the game a lot! I have played it well over a hundred times now on Miniclip.BUT...On hard mode, the batters swing like they are standing in a pool of honey or something. I click to swing, and they just casually bring the bat around.There doesn't seem to be ANY way of catching up to those fast pitches!! Timing is obviously important, but even if I swing as soon as they let go, I still can't get the bat around in time. Also there are times when i could swear i swing right through a pitch!Its as though the ball suddenly ceases to have mass!Love the game, just thought I would put my two cents in. Thanks for listening!!

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I can't believe nobody commented on the arcade version of the game. I found the "bottom of the 9th" version not that interesting, because of the weird mismatch between runner speed and fielder/ball speed.

However, the arcade version is fun. BUT I wonder about the high scores. Right now, for example, the highest score at the EASY LEVEL for the last month is 6375. This is >700 points per pitch. If you hit the bullseye TEN times and the ball bounced all the way through each zone of the scoring circle every time, it would add up to 350 points per at bat ((100x2) + 75 + 50 +25). This would give you a high score of 3500. Where are these ridiculous scores coming from?

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Anonymous October 28, 2008 1:09 PM

Yes, runners too slow. They can't outrun a throw. I had a runner on first and batter hit one off the wall. I knew the throw was going to go to first so as soon as he threw it I tried to advance the runner to second. Even sliding I couldn't beat the throw.

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Anonymous March 19, 2011 6:12 PM

Worst game ever. The game cheats like hell when you start getting the higher score in the Arcade version. No matter what you do, the game always throws at least 1 unhittable pitch or bad pitch that you physically cannot make into the target range thus ruining your total score. At that point you might as well just start over. The game is way too buggy for me and Whitakker does nothing to improve it. I guess that is what happens when you play a game designed by a Brit.....cheating.

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