Hardball is the third attempt to bring the American
national sport of baseball to 64 owners. The game has
a different approach to both its predecessors and involves
all aspects of baseball, from playing the game to making
crucial managerial decisions.
game commences with an options screen allowing you to
choose between one or two players. In one-player mode
the 64 either takes over the home or away team, depending
on which you choose. Once those formalities have been
completed then a list of both teams is shown. Each team
has 10 players which are picked from the team's pool
of 25, and during this period you can change and reassemble
players each have their own personalities, weaknesses
and strengths which are all shown. The upshot of this
amazing depth of player differentiation is that, with
practice, you can assemble a team to suit your own playing
style and end up with one which becomes a powerful force
with you behind them.
you've sorted out the teams then the game begins. The
home team is always put into bat in the first innings,
whilst the away team fields. Batting and fielding is
all controlled through the joystick, and although being
tricky (playing professional baseball for the first
time always is) is mastered with a little practice.
special screen is used for batting and pitching, showing
a 3D view from behind the pitcher, which includes the
striker (batsman), pitcher and catcher. Your pitcher
always has four special moves, one of which has to be
chosen before you can pitch. These are usually fastball,
screwball, changeup and curveball,
although these may differ depending on the pitcher fielded.
To choose a throw, move the joystick in the relevant
position (shown in the pitcher information box at the
bottom of the screen) and press fire. The nice feature
of this is the fact that it's possible to choose your
throw without the other player knowing, just like real
life! When the type of throw has been chosen then you
can move the joystick up, down, left or right in conjunction
with the fire button to pitch high, low, inside or outside.
There is massive potential to pitching and once sussed,
it is possible to pitch all manner of balls, both legal
the striker misses the ball then the catcher automatically
catches the ball and a 'strike' is added to your total.
Three strikes in a row and the striker is struck out.
If the ball is illegal and the striker doesn't make
a swing for it then it is declared a 'ball'. If the
pitcher throws four balls before the striker connects
or is struck out then the opposing team are awarded
a 'walk' where each player on the playing field is allowed
to move to the next base.
the striker does connect with a pitched ball then the
screen changes to a panoramic view of either the left
or right of the playing field (depending on where the
ball is hit). The fielder nearest the ball (whether
in the air or on the ground) flashes, and the player
is given control over him. The player can then intercept
the ball and throw it to a base by pressing the fire
button in conjunction with up (2nd base), down (home
base), left (3rd base) or right (1st base) on the joystick.
the ball is safely back in the hands of the pitcher
then the screen switches back to the original pitcher
(or batting) successfully is the hardest aspect of Hardball:
a keen eye and swift reflexes are needed, otherwise
a player will find himself struck out time and time
again. A striker has only a split second to decide whether
the ball is low, high, swinging out or in, and whether
to actually go for the ball or not (remember, an illegal
ball becomes legal if you attempt to hit it). Once you've
decided that, you can make the player swing high, low
etc by moving the joystick to the corresponding position
and pressing the fire button. It sounds difficult, but
within a few games you'll find yourself growing accustomed
to the split second decisions and whopping even the
most tricky pitches home.
the ball has been hit, the striker automatically runs
for the first base. When he has done that then the player
can decide whether to attempt a sneak at the second
base (a risky move). If a player presses the space bar
before the ball is pitched, the screen switches to the
team list. Here the pitcher is able to change the position
of fielders or substitute a relief pitcher. Likewise,
the striker can shuffle the order of batting to give
himself more of a chance.
strictly follows the rules of World Series and is
error trapped for any illegal moves. The game takes
place over nine innings, and if the score is even after
that then the game continues until a team wins an innings,
no matter how long it takes!