If Baseball has never been particularly popular in the country of smelly cheeses, be aware that this sport is very popular, however, beyond the Yankee borders. Asian people love it, and a bunch of Japanese publishers did released their own Baseball video games, on arcade or home systems. Among the most notable titles, SNK impressed with its Baseball Stars series, first on NES, then with the Neo Geo that produced Baseball Stars Professional and finally Baseball Stars 2 in 1992, the culmination of the saga. Master Sega had also officiated brilliantly on its Megadrive but also on arcades, with Clutch Hitter on System 18. The editor signed with this game one of its best titles of the genre in 1991. Our rivals use two systems competing each other in the early 90's that are at par in terms of perfs, now let's see which of the two will take advantage in this duel.
Sega opts for realism, with well chosen colors and finely drawn players. The stadiums are simple and lack a bit of detail and fantasy. The editor really wanted to make a simulation, and it shows in graphics. Despite this, nothing prevented designers to be a little less academic and to realize better portraits of players. It is a bit austere, but ithe game still offers three different environments and a few nice 'cinematics'. SNK title proves much more luxuriant: bright colors, bodybuilder players, many in-game cutscenes and breathtaking action... The editor did a great job, with great attention to detail in this 'punchy' graphic style. Only downside, there is only one playground for the whole game, but in the end, Baseball Stars 2 is more pleasing to the eye and a little thinner than its rival.
BASEBALL STARS 2 ............. 85%
CLUTCH HITTER ................... 79%
Our two Baseball games offer high quality animation, fluid, fast and decomposed. Clutch Hitter proves a bit more decomposed than Baseball Stars 2, with players making realistic moves. On everything else, SNK's title takes over: the ball is much better managed, with effects of rotation and zoom beautifully made, a more alive playground, and a general dynamism above all much better than its rival. The action is intense, fast and have virtually no downtime. The Sega soft packs less rhythm, despite an overall animation of outstanding quality.
BASEBALL STARS 2 ............. 93%
CLUTCH HITTER ................... 84%
Clutch Hitter is all about atmosphere, and again puts everything on 'realism'. So no music for Sega, but ambient sounds to recreate the atmosphere of a Baseball match: hubbub of the crowd, the commentator interventions, samples distributed by the authority of the stadium, the sounds of bat, players running and falling, etc ... The result is very pleasant: it really sound like a game of Baseball on TV! Sampling quality is good, but we would have liked more variety. In Baseball Stars 2, the sound is just like the graphics: exuberant! A very dynamic and catchy Rock'n'Roll theme accompanies the action, but the acoustic is dominated by the sound effects and the voice of the speaker. He's very talkative, commenting passionately all the actions happening on the ground. The public is particularly audible, as in CH, and the various digitalisations are top quality: sounds of bats, throws, hits, impacts... SNK performs a remarkable work on the powerful YM2610 that once will not hurt, flies over the competition.
BASEBALL STARS 2 ............. 89%
CLUTCH HITTER ................... 85%
If SNK has paid particular attention to Baseball Stars 2 realization, we can say, however, that the editor was greedy about game modes and teams! Story mode or Versus mode, twelve teams are available in all and for all. While this is not Peru, it's not so poor than that. The single player mode requires to win fifteen games to overcome, and of course Versus is still the most interesting part. BS2 provides an excellent life, thanks to the attractiveness and fun of the competitive play! Clutch Hitter offers three different game modes (in addition to VS), four leagues and no less than twenty-six official teams! Suffice to say that the game wins hands down in this chapter, despite a very honorable result for its rival.
BASEBALL STARS 2 ............. 90%
CLUTCH HITTER ................... 96%
Two quite opposite styles clash here: Baseball Stars 2 opts for an 'arcade' gameplay, fun and easy to handle, but still offering a nice room for improvement and some interesting tactical choices. Sega's Clutch Hitter bets on a simulation gameplay: all actions are very realistic, and the editor didn't left much room for imagination. The pitcher have to be way more accurate than in BS2. In the latter, it's possible to 'control' the trajectory of the ball as it flies. Clutch Hitter offers a power gauge for the pitcher, but the scope for the launch is smaller. In sensations when controlling the batsmen, the two games are quite similar. The controls are different but well thought on each side. SNK thought to put some fights between pitcher and batter, and it's possible to grant a 'Power Up' to a player during certain phases of action, but only a few times during the game. In both games, we can change hitter or pitcher at any time, as in a real game of baseball. Difficult to separate Baseball Stars 2 and Clutch Hitter here, which both demonstrate flawless gameplays, one focusing on fun and amusement, the other on realism. Choose your side!
BASEBALL STARS 2 ............. 92%
CLUTCH HITTER ................... 92%
Clutch Hitter offers a seamless gameplay and a longer life than Baseball Stars 2, but this one is more fun while also offers a wide range of in-game possibilities. Despite its higher number of teams and three game modes, Sega title is preceded by a short head: the SNK soft dominates its rival on all realization facts. Lovers of pure simulation will turn more readily to CH, while players who prefer a funnier and more beautiful game will feel more attracted to BS2.
BASEBALL STARS 2