ESPN Baseball Tonight

Title Screen

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Oddly enough, ESPN Baseball Tonight came out in 1994, the year the MLB went on strike and half the season, all of the post-season, and the World Series were cancelled. At any rate, here’s the lowdown.

 

Menus & Graphics

The beginning of ESPN Baseball Tonight reminds me of the first NBA Jam because it shows all the companies and credits before you get to the game, but you have to see it all. ESPN Baseball Tonight does the same thing, but thankfully you can press Start to get rid of all the screens.

Once you get your game set up, Chris Berman introduces the game. This reminds me of Madden 94 where John Madden is animated and the player animation is fantastic for 1994’s standards. This is one of the best baseball games for animations and player detail in the 16-bit world. The field looks good too. You’ll also see the Little Caesars (RIP Mr. I) ads at left and right fields. I would rank the graphics in ESPN Baseball Tonight as superior.

 

Gameplay


What is strange about this game that there is no pitch selection. Many 8-bit games don’t have that option, but no pitch selection on a 16-bit game? That’s unusual. Fielding grounders is a pain in the ass due to the shoddy controls. Hell, I even see the CPU having trouble fielding grounders.

An advantage of this game is I had a grounder hit to the center fielder and was able to throw the runner out on 1st. However, throws from both the left and right fielders take a while. My first two games I played as the Tigers (bad idea, they did poorly in the 90s), then I played as the Yankees on the third game. Unless both teams have a powerful center fielder, I would call that a crazy glitch.

 

Glitches & Other Facts

Another thing I noticed when I was playing my second game (where I lost 17-3) is during a bases loaded situation, I pitched a strikeout and the 2nd base runner’s skin color turned from black to white. I wondered if the programmers had a few Michael Jackson jokes going on in their heads when they were making this.

One annoyance with ESPN Baseball Tonight that after each pitch or each ball put in play (without a home run or foul ball) you must throw the ball back to the pitcher in order to continue the game. If you field a routine grounder and get the runner at first out, you can keep the game on “pause” by having the first baseman hold the ball.

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Another highly annoying glitch is the camera delay. When the ball is hit towards the left or right, the camera is late to move to where the ball was hit. This is very frustrating when a fast grounder is hit in those directions because it delays your reaction time to move your fielder towards the ball.

Besides that, ESPN Baseball Tonight is rather difficult for the first timers like me. I lost three games, 26-4, 17-2 and playing as the Yankees 10-5. The game does have batting practice, if you’re a newbie, give batting practice a try. But good luck playing the game with the bad camera delay.

ESPN Baseball Tonight was also released on SNES, Sega CD and the PC. The PC version for 1994-95’s standards video files were too large. The game lacked a Players Association license, numbers were used instead of names.