Baseball Stars 2 (Neo Geo) Review – The sprites of summer

Posted on Jul 24 2013 - 7:08am by Jeffrey L. Wilson

BaseballStars2 Baseball Stars 2 (Neo Geo) Review   The sprites of summer

New 2D X Excellence Award Baseball Stars 2 (Neo Geo) Review   The sprites of summerAs a writer, I really value the art of crafting a description that accurately conveys an idea that I’m expressing to the reader. It doesn’t necessarily have to be witty, just clear and concise. So when it came time to describe Baseball Stars 2′s visuals to an associate who’d never seen SNK’s classic in action I struggled, struggled, and struggled some more. But then it hit me while reflecting back on the grand time I had at the 2008 Consumer Electronic Show: Baseballs Stars 2 looks like what would happen if the Vegas Strip made nasty time with a candy cane.

My advice before firing up a game of Baseball Stars 2 (either on the Nintendo Wii, Neo Geo AES, or Neo Geo MVS) is call up grandpa and inquire if a history of epileptic seizures runs in the family, because the candy-colored, flashing animation will surely trigger a bout of tongue-swallowing in our brothers who are susceptible to fits. SNK painted this underrated sports gem with a fine brush that captures baseball’s flash, but also the game’s smaller, more subtle moments.

baseballstars2gameplay Baseball Stars 2 (Neo Geo) Review   The sprites of summer

Baseball Stars 2 is in a constant state of gorgeous sprite-based motion that no polygonal baseball games has come close to duplicating — it’s the Garou: Mark of the Wolves or Street Fighter III: Third Strike of sports gaming, if you will.

Baseball Stars 2 is simultaneously in hyper-drive and in cruise control. The game zooms in for super-close cutscenes when there’s a good catch, close play at a bag, or a pitcher getting his snotbox rocked after beaning a beefy batter.

Then this same game also features boxed profile pictures of hurlers slowly chewing on tarbacky, fielders using their feet to play with the dirt, and hitters flipping their bats after stepping into the box. Baseball Stars 2 is in a constant state of gorgeous sprite-based motion that no polygonal baseball games has come close to duplicating — it’s the Garou: Mark of the Wolves or Street Fighter III: Third Strike of sports gaming, if you will.

While the graphics are designed to grab your attention and suck you in, it’s the gameplay that keeps you playing game after game after game (back in the day it would be my moms telling me to unplug, now its my girlfriend — not much has changed). Baseballs Stars 2 doesn’t do anything wacky with the pastime’s formula as SNK’s own Super Baseball 2020 did; it utilizes tight controls and fast gameplay to get create a thrilling arcade styled baseball game. My only issue with this otherwise near-flawless title is that at times the camera can appear too low to the field when chasing grounders, which throws off your sense of your surroundings a bit.

That said, players can purchase power ups for their hitters that give them bats the size of the slab of meat that tipped over Fred’s car in The Flinstone‘s intro for extra home run pop, and pitchers can add extra heat to their, well, heaters.

Much like Major League Baseball, SNK’s diamond game are two leagues: The Exciting League (made of the New York Monsters, Tokyo Ninjas, Napoli Angels, Taipei Hawk, Seoul Ivories, Sydney Griffons, Oaxaca Rockets, Barcelona Flames, London Lifeguards) and the Fighting League (populated by the USA Bisons, Japanese Samuaris, Korean Dragoon, Italian Waves, Taiwan Dragons, Aussie Thunders, Mexican Typhoons, Spanish Galleons, British Knights), which were loose approximations of the American and Nationals leagues. You can guide one of these teams through a 15-game season (be forewarned: the Exciting League’s teams have CPU-controlled defenses) or a single-game slugfest. Money earned allows you to purchase new players for your squad.

In an age of multi-million dollar athletes complaining that their salaries are miniscule, and off-field controversies that I’d rather not hear about, Baseball Stars 2‘s fantasy rosters manages to take me back to that time during the early ’90s when it was all about the love of the game. The music is the typical 16-bit circus tunes that can drive you loopy with extended gameplay sessions, but if you lower the volume and grab a friend, it’s like you’re 17 years old all over again.

You can typically buy Baseball Stars 2 for roughly $60 or less at various online marketplaces.

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Jeffrey L. Wilson is the former Big Boss of Now retired, he spends his days as a man of leisure. Kinda.

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3 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. dejavu2222 July 25, 2013 at 8:39 AM - Reply

    Baseball Stars 2 is indeed one of my favorite games of all time, not to mention favorite sports game and in the top 5 of Neo Geo games.

    And its also available on PSN, under NeoGeo Station.

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson July 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM - Reply

      Great title indeed. Baseball Stars (NES) also ranks up there. In fact, it may be my all-time favorite sports games.

  2. Katy Perry's leather pants August 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM - Reply

    This is the game that Nicktoons MLB should have been in the first place instead of the trash we got! That or Super Baseball 2020.

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