Posted on May 3rd, 2011 No comments
Power League II
Release Date: 8/8/89
Price: 5200 yen
Media: HuCard (3 Mbit)
PC Engine FAN Score: 22.76 / 30.00
Kōgien: “The popular previous game receives updated data and several new modes: an all-star game and a home run contest. The graphics have been extensively reworked and are much prettier.“
The first Power League, released a year and two months before this sequel, was a decent but fairly flawed attempt at presenting a realistic baseball package compared to Namco’s World Stadium. Power League II is a far more complete package, essentially ensuring the brand’s role as the PC Engine’s longest-lasting game series. (Bomberman didn’t come out for another year after this.)
Released simultaneously with Hudson’s Tennokoe 2 “memory card,” Power League II pretty much defined how Hudson’s PCE baseball games would look for the next five years. The field, displayed in an awkward direct-overhead view originally, is now shown in the standard quarter-view that was used by nearly every other 8- and 16-bit baseball sim. That’s very much to the game’s advantage — the graphics look far more realistic now, with the view making it easier for Hudson’s artists to place more detail into the players and the Hu Stadium they’re playing in.
The biggest graphical enhancement, though, lies in the home run sequence. The game decides right when you make contact with the ball whether it’s going to be a homer or not, and as you can see in the bottom of the 2nd in the video below, the view follows the ascent of the ball from behind the plate, which was a pretty impressive trick in 1989. The best part about it: as the ball flies upward, the ground below falls out of view in realistic 3D perspective, an effect that’s extremely impressive in the subtle realism it gives the whole sequence. It’s a bit of tiny detail that must’ve been a pain in the ass for whoever programmed it at Hudson, and I love it.
There is indeed an all-star game mode, not that it matters all that much at this point since Hudson wouldn’t get the license to use actual Japan Professional Baseball League players until Power League 5 in 1992. The home-run derby is also pretty bare-bones, featuring the player of your choice taking BP for anywhere between 10 and 100 pitches. The Tennokoe support allows you to save your team’s progress in Pennant mode, which culminates in a Japan-US championship game that’s featured below.
In a way you could call Power League II the zenith of the series, simply because none of the four subsequent titles changed the basic visual package or gameplay much at all beyond what we see here. It’s a shame that NEC based the TurboGrafx-16’s World Class Baseball off the first Power League and not this one, because I’ve half a mind to say this is better than anything that was on the NES as of 1989. That, and I like the “runners in scoring position” jingle a fair bit.