World Series Major League Baseball
"I see I was mistaken when I called this game 'Baseball 3.0.' First of all, it differs greatly from World Championship Baseball -- whereas World Championship Baseball was similar to the original Major League Baseball with a few enhancements, World Series Major League Baseball is entirely different and is far superior to the other Baseball titles. Second of all, this game was released before World Championship Baseball, which was released during the crash. I like World Championship Baseball as well, but I wonder why it was created at all, since Mattel already had this game, which could have sold a lot more ECS units had it been pushed.
"Not only that, but it is IntelliVoice-optional as well. With the IntelliVoice, plays are called with actual synthesized voice (not 'YER OUT!' anymore). Add to that the constant crowd cheering in the background (putting the extra sound chip to real good use) and the additional cheers and hoots during home runs and jeers for foul balls, and the game becomes as much fun to watch as it is to play -- yes, the computer can play one or both teams as well. It wasn't until the SNES/Genesis era that sports games with vocal play-by-play announcements became the norm. I also wonder why INTV didn't make any of their new games IntelliVoice-optional as well. For that matter, I wonder why INTV didn't re-issue the ECS games when they re-issued the ECS. It was re-issued in two catalogs: the first including The Jetsons' Ways with Words and Mr. BASIC Meets Bits 'n' Bytes; and the second including World Series Major League Baseball. I guess it wouldn't have been worth the time and money to invest in new ECS and IntelliVoice games, but at least a few ECS- or IntelliVoice-optional games wouldn't have hurt, and probably would have prompted sales of a few more of both units.
"Another curiosity is that the game includes two different overlays, which wasn't really necessary. The two controllers function the same, and the only difference between the two overlays is that one says 'American Team' while the other says 'National Team.' It would have been nice if the game put an extra pair of Intellivision II controllers to use instead of the keyboard (which is only used to invoke time-outs and make menu selections) for four-player action. Then there could have been four unique overlays, and would have prompted sales of more pairs of Intellivision II controllers. The cassette feature is also utilized here for saving and loading preferences, player stats, and game states. That's right -- the saving and loading of games in progress is another concept that Nintendo wasn't the first to introduce! Too bad I still can't get ahold of a decent tape recorder and noiseless cables. Maybe I'll look around for an Aquarius tape deck, and a printer while I'm at it (not that this game utilizes the printer, because it doesn't, but just 'cause).
"The gameplay operates much differently now than from the other Baseball games. Cameras switch the view to the portion of the field where the main action is taking place, and there is a 'sub-window' in the top-left corner of the screen that simultaneously displays the lead runner whenever there is one. Because of the 'split-screen' feature, scrolling is not done using the conventional method; instead the screen scrolls a block at a time, which is understandable (all the more so since that is the way it was on the Colecovision anyhow, so owners of both systems would have been used to it). Despite the differences in viewing, the play control is pretty much the same as it is on World Championship Baseball. The major difference is that the batter can now swing the bat low, medium, or high, in addition to hitting a bunt, line drive, or pop fly, since the pitch is seen in 3-D.
"Since a lot of sprites are needed to render as much as possible at any given time, the players are usually seen at double width and double or even quadruple height, and when the ball is not in view, the sprite normally used to draw the ball is used to change the color of the head of the player holding the ball (so it is known who has the ball of course). The result is that the players are usually seen as ultra low-res sprites, but since the different animations are so well-defined, that makes up for it -- the pitcher really looks like he is pitching, and so on. I also think the umpire looks like the Grim Reaper, but it doesn't matter. The background scenery is superb, better than I ever could have imagined it on the Intellivision.
"All the sights and sounds combined with the complexity of this game make it far outshine many of the NES Baseball titles in my opinion. World Series Major League Baseball stands as a testament to the games that 'could have been' for the Intellivision as well as in the classic domain. All ECS owners should have this game in their collection, and it is worth just about any price." Rating: 5/5 -- Mike Hayes