Advent Calendar - December 9th.

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

Bottom of the Ninth (arcade/MAME)

I've got a soft spot for baseball... it started with HardBall! on the Commodore 64, dropped off for a while then returned with a vengeance while I was living in the States. Now that I'm back in England, I like to keep tabs on the game, and I've got ESPN America and like to watch games when I can, particularly when it's the Detroit Tigers playing.

Enough of the gymnastics, just throw the ball!

I do like videogame baseball as well... it's always difficult to play well, but you can just step up to the plate as a slugger and get in the odd satisfying hit every now and again. There have been so many efforts of varying quality over the years, but despite it being a small world these days, it remains mostly an American game and can be hard to get hold of in the UK. To that end, and despite it apparently being something of a franchise, I'd never heard of Bottom of the Ninth before.

The first thing I noticed was that, for an arcade game, this is very naughty indeed. What's the first thing you do with an arcade game? You drop your money in for a credit. Normally, you'd then play until your skills meant you were beaten, at which point you'd either chuck in some more money or walk off and find another game. Bottom of the Ninth gives you ninety seconds for your 25 cents (I doubt any found their way over here for anyone to put 10p into). Ninety seconds, in a game that lasts nine innings? What a rip-off! But I suppose it's the only way they could make much money... baseball games can last ages!

No point chasing that one... it's gone!

I would imagine that there are ways in which you can win extra time, although I didn't see any evidence of that while I was playing. The game itself is relatively simple, but it's possible to get into it to the point where you can't help adding more credits. That's easy enough to say, though... playing on MAME, you've effectively got an arcade machine set to free play. But although 1989, the year this was released, wasn't a vintage year for arcade games, I'd probably have preferred to save my cash for other games in the arcade than blow it all on this.

As for the game itself... it's baseball. You get a turn batting, where you get three outs, and then you get a turn pitching, where you have to get three opposing batters out. There's very little strategy involved... less even than the classic HardBall! But it's presented fairly well, and there's always a thrill in any baseball game whenever you belt the ball out of the park for a home run.

If you've read any of my other accounts of American sports games, you might see a pattern emerging in the scoring...

Bottom of the Ninth is an arcade baseball game, simple as that. I enjoyed my time with it (all two matches worth), but it's utterly disposable and less than memorable, and if I fancy playing an old basebal video game, I'm more likely to go back to HardBall! than this one.