As we’re well into Spring Training, it’s a good time to look at some baseball games… including this one that just recently found a place in Retro Central: Legends of the Diamond for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
I’ve only spent a couple of innings with this one so far, but I do have some initial thoughts on it:
The big draw in this game is the inclusion of well-known baseball players from eras gone by. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Whitey Ford, Roberto Clemente, and other stars are in Legends of the Diamond, which is interesting. Whitey Ford throwing to (and trying to retire) Babe Ruth is a dream scenario… and this game lets you live it out. Kind of.
I say “Kind of” because the players all look the same on the screen. Only the names and the stats can help players figure out who is who. Yes, this is an NES game, so graphics are what they are… but there’s aren’t many height, weight, or appearance differences here. You just kind of have to roll with it.
Legends of the Diamond plays like many NES baseball games do, which isn’t a bad thing. Batting and pitching are simple to execute, and pitching has just enough strategy with changing speeds and locations to keep the pitcher/batter battle tense. If the batter puts the ball in play, though… controlling fielders to track down the ball is a royal pain. The camera doesn’t seem to track the ball well at times (shades of Base Wars, which will be covered soon) and fielder positioning is not all that advantageous. It definitely takes some getting used to.
So far, Legends of the Diamond hasn’t done enough to get into the conversation about the best baseball games for the NES. There are penalty flags on the lackluster visuals and the issue with fielding, and the inclusion of historic baseball players isn’t enough to offset these problems.
Perhaps some more innings and experience will change my call, but early on, Legends of the Diamond is more of a foul ball than a base hit.