Posted on April 12th, 2010 6 comments
Japan has a history of dedicated single-game systems (a.k.a. Pong consoles) that extends almost as far back as America’s. Chief among the later-era ones is this TV Baseball Game (テレビ野球ゲーム), a system from early home-game pioneer Epoch that I’m a little ashamed to admit came out the year I was born. The price: 13,400 yen, a number set in order to compete with Nintendo’s 12,500-yen Racing 112 (which I bet most readers have played in its Wario Ware, Inc guest appearance).
Using technology developed by NEC that would later form the core of 1981’s Cassette Vision console, TV Baseball Game plays a simple little pastime that is more-or-less recognizable as baseball. It came out the same year as Atari’s Home Run for the 2600, and it’s amusing to debate over which is the better simulation. Epoch boasts a complete side of nine players in the field (we’ll just pretend the catcher is somewhere below the TV screen), but frankly I think Atari’s version has better gameplay. I’m a little biased, though, perhaps — during grade-school summer vacations in upstate New York, my 6-year-old self’s idea of a great way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon was to plug in Home Run and try scoring 100 runs in a single inning against the computer. It’s very zen, once you get into it.
Here’s a video of some hot TV Baseball Game action recorded off a real console. This looks a lot more challenging than Home Run, I’ll give it that. What kind of baseball sim only allows realistic pitches that don’t snake to and fro as you waggle the joystick around? Come on!
Despite this fault, Epoch’s console was reportedly popular enough to sell 230,000 units — a pretty decent feat considering the Cassette Vision itself only did about 300k. Epoch later released an improved version of this game for the CV; it was called New Baseball and added a computer opponent for single-player.