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  • [I ♥ The PC Engine] Power League

    Posted on June 16th, 2009 keving 2 comments

    Power LeaguePower League (パワーリーグ)
    (World Class Baseball)

    Maker: Hudson
    Release Date: 6/24/88
    4900 yen
    HuCard (2 Mbit)
    Genre: Sports
    PC Engine FAN Score: 21.16 / 30.00
    Kōgien: “A baseball game whose main draw is its bountiful selection of modes — versus, open, pennant, watch, and edit.”

    The first in what would eventually become a six-game-long series of Hudson PCE baseball sims. Also the only baseball title to see release on the TurboGrafx-16. (World Class Baseball has been on the Wii’s Virtual Console since 2007.)

    power-league-j-002 power-league-j-003

    This, alongside Jaleco’s 1987 Famicom release Moero!! Pro Yakyū (Bases Loaded in the US), established the “realistic” genre of baseball games as they existed in the 8/16-bit era, running in competition with the “toon” style represented by Family Stadium and (eventually) Konami’s Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū series. The original Moero!! is infamous in Japan these days for being a bug-ridden mess, but its “like playing a TV broadcast” approach still made it a million-seller on both sides of the Pacific — probably why Hudson decided to clone it for the PCE instead of attempt to compete directly with Namco.

    The original Power League presents the field from a straight-on overhead view, an approach also taken by Sega’s Tommy Lasorda Baseball and by no other game in the history of mankind. Hudson switched over to a more traditional three-quarters view for the next game, which is appreciated, ‘cos the overhead viewpoint makes the game look pretty damn ugly. I don’t know how related it is, but the fielders are ridiculously slow with their relays, too — infield hits are extremely common off ground balls that are hit anywhere west of second base. (Things improved pretty quickly in the next game, though.)

    In its pursuit of realism, the Power League series has two unique trademarks — the edit mode, and the fact that every batter in the game takes a kannushi stance, keeping a very loose grip on the bat until the moment they swing (an extremely Japanese thing popularized by Hiromitsu Ochiai in the ’80s). Later Power Leagues would offer much more extensive editing, but this being the era before the PCE had any kind of memory storage, the first game only lets you change your teams’ starting members and batting order. Still, that’s a lot more than World Stadium allowed.

    This first game also has a very amusing bug, which wasn’t fixed for World Class Baseball. Place a pinch-hitter in for your pitcher and run through the inning. You’ll be asked to pick a new pitcher; instead, press I and II simultaneously, and you’ll see a phantom nameless pitcher throw a ball that goes straight down to the ground and stays there, essentially freezing the game and requiring a reset. Great for throwing the game with when you’re losing big.

    Finally (and most importantly, maybe): the first Power League has the best in-game music of the series, rivaled only by Power League V in 1992. Baseball games from this era, if they weren’t trying to copy the cheerleading you hear in real Japanese matches, had these crazy, frenetic soundtracks that sounded like something out of CBS Sports’ audio library. I adore ’em.

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