LGR – Microsoft Baseball 2000 – PC Game Review
[funky bass line]
You’ve clicked on this video,
even though there appears to be the
name of a generic baseball game
in the title.
That’s correct. We’re going to be
looking at a baseball game and
WHY, you might ask.
You don’t look like a baseball guy!
I am in fact not a baseball guy,
or even very much of a sports guy,
About as much baseball as I get is this, uh…
Duke Nukem Forever hat, signed by Jon St. John.
And while I can indeed where this with, uh…
we’re still taking a look at this game.
Why? Because my own personal nostalgia.
And much like a badly placed plantar’s wart,
it’s a little weird at first,
but eventually you grow to accept it.
Microsoft Baseball 2000,
developed by WizBang Software Productions
and published by Microsoft in 1999 for Windows PCs.
It’s obviously a pretty serious simulation,
seeing as the box art shows Al Leiter
throwing a baseball at your face
so hard that he’s blurring sideways.
“Welcome to the Big Leagues.”
“Get ready to play ball right into the next millennium.”
At least if Y2K doesn’t kill us first.
Yep. Looks like a baseball game,
which is confirmed once inside the box,
where you’ll find the CD-ROM with
the word “baseball” printed on it
at least five times,
and a manual with the word “baseball”
contained on practically every page.
Microsoft Baseball begins with a Microsoft logo,
then a baseball logo,
then a Microsoft Baseball logo
on a menu screen.
Al Leiter is once again gracing us with his posing skills,
while you’re given the option to
play one of several one-off games,
start or load the playoffs or a whole season,
get some help, and change the options.
Options are optional, but obviously of use,
since you can not only change
things like graphics and sound stuff,
but alter the game’s length,
difficulty and other assorted things
to make your baseball experience
more or less baseball-y.
Jumping right into a single game is
probably the first thing you’ll want to do,
since it lets you choose any team,
stadium, and time of day right off the bat.
No pun intended.
You can also just choose to play
tonight’s game from real life.
Well, tonight from back in 1999, that is.
Look at the roster and pretend you know
what you’re doing by shuffling dudes around,
choose your controller from anything
you have hooked up, and play ball!
Sportscaster Thom Brennaman will then
brief you on what you’ve just chosen
in case you already forgot,
which is quite considerate.
I’m Thom Brennaman, and today
for the game between
the Atlanta Braves
the Chicago Cubs.
Then, depending on what side you’re on,
you’ll either start by pitching or batting,
because this is not an outfielder simulator.
Nor is it a hot dog vendor simulator.
Although, now that I think about it,
both could be pretty awesome.
But anyway, if you’re batting,
you have a choice of multiple hitting styles
before the pitcher pitches his pitch.
And depending on the options and
assists you chose before playing,
it ranges between as simple as
swinging at vaguely the right moment
to as complex as aiming the swing
and having to be more precise with your timing.
Paying attention to the strike zone that
pops up in the middle of the screen
is of utmost importance,
since that’s kind of how baseball works.
If the ball is thrown through that zone
and you don’t hit it, it’s a strike.
If it’s outside and you don’t hit it, it’s not.
And if you don’t see any kind
of thing with the zone at all,
you’ve probably turned it off
and have made the game extremely hard for yourself.
As with any baseball sim,
determining when the simulation
wants you to hit the ball
is a bit of a learning experience.
So playing the Home Run Derby is a great opportunity
to figure out the game’s hitting quirks,
since it throws perfect pitches your way every time
and all you have to do is focus on your timing.
Not only that, but setting up your own
custom selection of late-’90s baseball superstars
to just knock balls out of the
park is pretty awesome to behold.
And this is from when steroids were still cool,
so it’s all kinds of inspiring.
But anyway, pitching is also a thing,
although it also takes place from
the same perspective as batting,
so make sure not to forget which one you’re doing.
That can get really awkward.
Choose your pitch,
place the reticle somewhere
inside or outside the strike zone,
and hope you’re Greg Maddux.
Now, there’s no tutorial or anything,
so it makes some assumptions,
as far as you knowing what these
pitching and batting styles are,
and when it’s best to use them.
So if you’re not familiar, just press the
button on the thing and see what happens.
Eventually, something will happen
and a player will do some baseball things
and you’ll either win or lose.
Now, while it may not look like much now,
back in the day, this game was unbelievably cool to me.
When I first ran across the demo to this,
I was still content playing Tiger
Electronic Baseball handheld games
and Bo Jackson Baseball on the NES.
Sure, you had the Hardball, MLB
and Triple Play series of games,
but I didn’t have those. I had this one.
And Microsoft Baseball supported
3D acceleration from the get-go,
so it made good use of my 12 MB Voodoo2 video card,
and as such looked stunning.
Look at how realistic these players’ faces are!
Look at these detailed crowds.
You can see individual people!
Look at– the grass, with the dirt, and the white lines!
Okay, so maybe it looks a bit dated now.
A lot dated.
Like total crap now,
but back then it looked like real life,
and coming from 8-bit baseball games, it was amazing.
So that was half the reason I played this,
because I was already part of that whole
“PC gaming master race” thing in the ’90s.
The other reason I played Baseball 2000
was because of the other stuff.
Little things, like making your batter spaz the heck out.
And then calmly hitting the ball
at the last second, like a boss.
Or catching the ball with a baseman or outfielder,
but refusing to throw to anyone else.
Then running around like a brain-
damaged warthog on amphetamines.
Or hearing the crowd cheer for
the batter stepping up to the plate
and getting pissed off they’re not cheering for you
and then blatantly throwing a fastball at his penis.
Or right at the middle of his stupid face.
The game just didn’t care.
It would let you pull all sorts
of shenanigans, and I loved it.
I also just loved the sounds from the crowd.
I just made me feel like I was
actually at a baseball game.
Especially those guys hocking food non-stop.
Peanuts! Get your popcorn!
Yeah! “Hot dogs, peanuts” guy! [laughs]
Ah, my brother and I still say that
phrase to each other randomly
and I must admit, it’s half of what
makes me remember this game at all.
Now when you’re tired of making
dudes run around like morons
and dreaming of hot dogs, peanuts,
you can also check out playoff and season games
and enjoy the exact same gameplay,
just with a rigid layer of structure
and statistics surrounding it.
If you want to play just the playoffs, you can do that
by selecting the eight teams
you want and then going from there.
But playing a season is where the
real career mode stuff happens,
and this takes you through an entire
season of Major League Baseball
from April to as late as November.
Obviously, this would take a huge
amount of time to get through
and play every single game at
the full nine-plus innings each.
But hey, if you wanna do that,
go right ahead. It’s not gonna stop you.
Otherwise, you could just simulate
the games you don’t wanna play.
Or, frick, you could just simulate
the entire season altogether
and even see who wins the World Series.
And that’s about it for Microsoft Baseball 2000.
It’s a baseball game,
it’s got a roster that is no longer relevant,
and is generally outdated in almost every way.
Yet here I am talking about it,
so I guess that makes me a bit strange.
It’s about to get stranger, because I say
if you come across it, I would pick it up.
Because it’s actually pretty fun.
Not only is it a PC gaming
and baseball-related timepiece,
but it plays solidly and you can abuse
baseball players to your heart’s content.
But why play this one in particular?
It’s not the first one in the series.
That would be Baseball 3D: 1998 Edition.
And the only sequel, Baseball 2001,
added the league management engine
from the Baseball Mogul games
and several other improvements.
So where does that leave us?
Uh, this is neither the first, nor is it the best,
but it IS the one I remember.
Therefore, it is superior
and you can say nothing bad about it
because my nostalgia is better than your logic.
Peanuts! Get your peanuts!
And if you’d like more rock-solid reasoning
on outdated computer game recommendations,
feel free to click some of these.
And I make more every week.
So subscribing could prove to be useful,
as well as looking me up on Twitter, Facebook, Patreon,
and in the middle of one juicy hot dog.
And as always, thank you for watching.