Hart aber herzlich

Hardball 2 logo

"Hardball - was is'n das?" In Amerika kennt die Antwort jedes Kind, hierzulande nur eine Handvoll eingeschworener Fans. Also bitte: Hinter dem geheimnisvollen Titel verbirgt sich schlicht und ergreifend eine Baseball-simulation.

Kenner des amerikanischen Nationalsports haben vielleicht noch die Amigaversion des ersten Teils ins Erinnerung, die dem C 64-Original eigentlich nur die Sprachausgabe voraus hatte.

Hinsichtlich der Präsentation hat auch die Fortsetzung keinen Boden gutgemacht, ganz im Gegenteil: Die Grafik sieht schlechter aus als bei der Urversion, und der Sound (Musik und Effekte) verdient bestenfalls das Prädikat "akzeptabel". Aber: Trotz des Reinfalls der "Schönheitskonkurrenz" ist Hardball II dank seiner überwältigenden Fülle von Optionen eindeutig Klassenbester!

Es gibt mehrere Teams (plus Teameditor), verschiedene Stadien, Einzel-, Liga- und Demo-modus; man kann gegen den Computer oder zu zweit spielen, der Schwierigkeitsgrad ist beliebig variierbar, für jeden Spieler wird eine eigene Statistik geführt, Speichern und Laden ist jederzeit möglich, es stehen diverse Spielfeldansichten zur Wahl, zudem hilft eine Replay-Funktion dem Amateur beim Sprung ins Profilager.

Wer alle Feinheiten in den Griff bekommen will, hat ganz schön zu knabbern, aber die vorbildliche (wenn auch englische) Anleitung macht's möglich.

Fazit: Abgesehen von der eintönigen Grafik, findet man in Hardball II ein ideales Baseball-Game. Dennoch ist auch ein Blick auf den Vorgänger nicht zu verachten, schließlich gibt's den bereits auf einer Compilation. (mm)

Hardball 2 logo

Accolade/Out Now/£24.99

Amiga reviewPaul: When the sun finally sets on the last forgotten pavillion, the sound of leather on willow summer will be replaced by the sound of ultra-white teeth on slightly stale popcorn. Ah such is progress, such is baseball.

As a simple knockabout in the park Hardball II scores pretty highly. The control system is simple, if a little limited, and it doesn't take long to get the hang of. Unfortunately the graphics, though fairly well animated, have a very PC feel about them. The sound is by no means the greatest thing to happen on the Amiga, (or even the stylophone).

Despite this, even a popcorn hater like myself, found the game more than a little addictive.

Once I'd tried to move up a gear into a more tactical game I got a bit bogged down. At this stage it becomes a game for the real baseball enthsiast and stats lover. Anyone who doesn't know the difference between an SLG and a Bunt is likely to flounder like a Frenchman on a cricket pitch.

Accessible to the beginner, yet with enough depth for the enthusiast, Hardball II is also the only baseball game to contain a joke about 'Sartre' in the instructions. Spook!

Hardball 2 logo

Accolade, Amiga £24.99

Sports games are always difficult to simulate, look at all the rubbish footy sims, but Accolade got baseball just about right in the C64 original.

Now a couple of years on, they've come back for another whack at the sport, surrounding the basic Hardball game with a wealth of options. Most, such as the league, are designed to increase realism and lastability, with such management challenges as making substitutions and changing fielding positions. But there's also plenty of TV glitz, such as instant replays and different views of the action.

The main part of the game is the pitcher-batter confrontation with both players choosing from five types of pitch/swing and aiming on a grid of nine squares. If the ball is hit, the view switches to the fielding screen with tiny animated players.

Phil King I remember playing the original on the Spectrum years ago, So I was surprised that, even on the Amiga, the sequel isn't that different. It plays very much like its predecessor - it's still just as difficult to hit the damn ball! The graphics aren't much cop either, very bland and PC-ish with a lack of detail. The game's playable enough, while the new tactical options, action replays and league offer extra realism.
Scorelord While I haven't played the original, the principles of baseball are fairly straightforward. Success in batting rests as much on knowing when the ball's 'no good' as actually hitting the thing. It's certainly tough, and can be frustrating getting the timing just right. To begin with the joystick control is a little odd, illuminating your choice of pitch/shot for all to see. But rapidly pressing fire hides your decision well enough. In a match with Phil (which I won, of course), I found it fun, if a bit sluggish and crudely presented. Masses of options, including comprehensive substitutions, provide lastability for baseball fans. But I'm waiting for Cinemaware's effort to provide the visual spectacle this lacks.