RELEASE DATE: 02/02/1991 – (JP)
SUPPORTS: Gear-to-Gear Cable
Tie game. Bottom of the 9th. My team – affectionately known as “Team D” – has four runs, as do my opponents, “Team W.” I’m up to bat first. One of my guys – Yamamoto or maybe Kintsugi, I’m not sure – gets to first, but the other two hitters (whose names I can’t recall) strike out. Team W steps to the plate. One, two, three, they’re all out, courtesy of some fantastic pitching. Because I know very little about baseball, I presume the game will end in a tie. I’m mistaken. We move on to the tenth inning, the eleventh, the twelve. Neither team scores. By the thirteenth inning, I’m begging Team W to just hit a home run and end this madness. They do not comply. Finally, by the sixteenth inning, one of my hitters – probably Yamamoto, God bless him – hits a home run. Three outs from Team W later, and Team D emerges triumphant. Our reward is an image of a female announcer reading off game stats, then it’s off to the next match. No rest for yakyuu players.
I’ve been known to fabricate a story or two when I open these reviews, but just so we’re clear, the aforementioned game actually happened. Sixteen innings, a victorious win, and utter exhaustion. No baseball games on any console or handheld have provided me with such a story. That may speak more to my lack of baseball game experience, but The Pro Yakyuu ’91 still deserves credit for capturing my interest.
Whether you’re playing against the computer or a friend with the Gear-to-Gear cable, the setup is the same. Choose a team from one of two leagues, select a pitcher and a batting order, then get into the game. Both the leagues and the teams only have single letters for their names, but you’re able to see the last names and stats of each player. Since this is a Japanese game that has very little information available for it on the Internet, I can only speculate. Are you playing with real Japanese baseball players circa ’91? Are the team names abbreviated so as not to cause a legal ruckus? Or is it all just one big fake baseball stew? I’m guessing the latter, but I’m honestly not sure.
Pitching, batting, and outfield control are smooth and fast. This makes for quick games that are easy to pick up and play, perfect for a handheld like the Game Gear. As with The Pro Yakyuu: Penant Race, however, the camera is placed behind the pitcher at a side angle. This setup can make it difficult to tell where the ball is headed when you’re batting, and the computer-controlled pitchers often take full advantage of this. Perhaps the Game Gear’s processor couldn’t handle placing the camera behind the batter, but I find that hard to believe. Despite this annoyance, with practice I learned approximately when I needed to swing depending on where the ball was.
The Pro Yakyuu ’91 surpassed my tremendously low expectations. This is one of the best baseball games I’ve played to date on this journey. And while that isn’t saying much given how bad/average many of the SG-1000 and Master System games are, it is impressive considering Pro Yakyuu ’91 was a Game Gear exclusive. Handheld baseball games trumping their console counterparts? Sixteen inning games? Female yakyuu announcers? Now I’ve seen everything.