All Star Baseball '99 Review

For Nintendo 64

Rating: Awesome
  After being disappointed by all three of this season's other major 
baseball games, I was very surprised to find that unlike all the others, 
All Star Baseball '99 doesn't suck.  As a matter of fact, ASB '99 is the 
best baseball game released in years for a number of reasons.  
  First, there's the graphics.  The graphics in ASB '99 are quite simply 
the best yet seen in any baseball game on any system, with extremely solid 
polygonal models and nice-looking stadiums.  But as good as the graphics 
are, they would be meaningless if there were no gameplay to back it up.  
Fortunately, the gameplay truly shines in this game.  In most baseball 
games, the pitcher/batter interface is just a formality, a way to quickly 
get to the "real" action of hitting and fielding.  This is far from the 
case in real baseball, where the pitcher/batter showdowns are at the 
forefront of every game, and it's about freakin' time a baseball game 
recognized this.  The pitcher/batter interface in ASB '99 is cursor-based 
and somewhat similar to Griffey 64, but it comes across as much more 
elegant and strategic over time.  In Griffey, the ability of the pitcher to
move the cursor all over the place even when the ball is on its way to the 
plate ruined the game for me.  In ASB '99, the pitcher can move the cursor 
slightly during the wind-up, but once the pitch is on its way, it's out of 
the pitcher's control, which is the way it should be.  The only movement 
after the release of the ball is if it's a breaking ball (so sinkers still 
sink, curveballs still curve, etc), but the pitcher can't just move the 
cursor around at will.  This allows the batter to line up the cursors, then
concentrate completely on the ball itself to get the timing just right, 
unlike Griffey 64 where the batter had the impossible task of concentrating
on the cursors and the ball at the same time.  ASB '99's awesome 
pitcher/batter interface makes for some very strategic showdowns.  It also
makes for a much slower-paced game than Griffey, but baseball is supposed 
to be slow-paced.  This game manages to be slow-paced and fun at the same 
   The fielding control is much easier to get a hang of than other baseball 
games (especially Triple Play '99), and unfortunately it does get to the 
point where it's almost too easy (which is still much better than if it 
were too hard).  The base running control is great, and the game has so 
many stats and options it will make your head spin (including the Create A 
Player that Griffey 64 doesn't have).  
   As good as this game is, I would be lying if I said it was flawless.  
The game's offense seems too reliant on seemingly random home runs rather 
than working the pitcher with base hit after base hit (which is ultimately 
more satisfying).  Sometimes you understand why a home run is hit because 
it's a fastball and you head it head-on at just the right moment, other 
times it seems completely luck-based.  Also, sometimes the game can be a 
bit repetitive (though not often).  For example, in one game I kept hitting
the ball to the same exact spot in the infield, to the point where at least
20 of the 27 times I got out were hit to that spot.  It got so bad that I 
began to wonder if I was really doing something wrong or whether it was 
just a bug in the game.  These flaws were big enough to make me think twice
about giving the game an Awesome rating, but small enough that I decided to
give it the Awesome rating in the end.  All Star Baseball '99 is an 
outstanding game that is far, far better than any other baseball game 
released this year.

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