This weekend is a weekend of sequels in the box office. With movies like Pirates 3, Shrek 3, and Oceans 13 all being released, the anticipation is growing. The question that's on everybody's mind is whether or not these films will compare to the originals. In some cases, they will. For example, the original Star Wars was followed up by Empire Strikes Back, which is my personal favorite of the series. Of course, who could forget the cult classic, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome? However, the sequels often can not match their predecessors. Who would have guessed that Steven Seagal would not have matched the pure genius of Under Siege when taking on the Under Siege 2 project?
When it comes to follow-up efforts, games can dissapoint, just like their movie brethren. With this in mind, I decided to approach World Stadium Baseball '91 from the sceptics point of view. My question was how Namco could possibly improve on the original World Stadium Baseball, a classic game known as RBI Baseball on American shores. Needless to say, it only took me a few rounds of hardball with Steve "Chili" R to find that Namco's latest TurboGrafx baseball effort was a surprising improvement over their first effort.
First of all, let's consider the graphics. One of the first things that you'll notice about the game is that the appearances to the original are very similar. However, Namco has made some nice touches in the department of animation. The batters twirl their bat around as they are waiting for the pitch. When a pitcher is under pressure, you can literally see him sweat it out. As if that weren't enough, there's even a new home run animation for those of you showboaters out there.
Alright, so the new graphical improvements are nice, but you're probably wondering why this game is so much better than the original. The answer to that question is in the gameplay. When first giving this game a go, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that it supports not only a two player mode, but even a four player mode! This feature makes the game a must have for Turbo Tap owners and RBI Baseball fans alike. One thing that's really cool about the multiplayer mode is that you can play in co-operative mode. This can be good when a seasoned veteran needs to give a few tips to a rank amateur.
Another great addition to the game is the ability for your fielders to do some acrobatics. Now not only can they dive for the ball, but they can also jump for balls above theis heads. This adds a whole new dimension to the fielding portion of the game. You need to remember, though, that with great power comes great responsibility. The motions are a bit exaggerated, so if your fielder misses the ball he'll be hung out to dry.
Combining these outstanding new features with a timeless classic, was a can't miss winner for Namco. It could have been easy to rest on their laurels, but they decided to step it up a notch and should be commended. I speak for not only myself, but the entire turbografx.net staff in giving this title my whole-hearted recommendation.