I have a bit of a soft spot for Accolade as they were the first company to reverse engineer the Genesis in order to figure out how to release unlicensed software. That “Produced or Licensed by Sega” message you see when you fire up your Genesis? That was a product of Sega’s lawsuit against Accolade. They were the original bad ass of the 16-bit generation, much like Tengen was during the NES days. This unfortunately does not mean that their games were always good, and Hardball suffers from multiple problems.
Although the graphics are colorful, the animation is poor, the umpire’s voice is loud and grating, and the music loops nonstop (although this can be turned off in the options menu.) On offense, you have to manually advance all of your runners whenever the ball is hit, and it is seemingly impossible to manufacture any runs. On defense the game automatically selects a fielder for you when the opposing team hits the ball but unfortunately often selects the wrong fielder. Players can not dive to grab a ball that is just out of reach, and catching fly balls in the outfield is unnecessarily difficult because it’s hard to tell where the ball is going to come down.
The most glaring problem with this game however is the lack of any kind of season mode. Your choices are to play a single game, or to play in the World Series. Not playoffs, just the World Series. This is inexcusable in a 16-bit baseball simulator. The lack of MLB and MLBPA licenses means that no team names or logos are present, so the teams are identified by city only and the players all have fictitious names.
This game isn’t so bad that I wouldn’t play it if it was the only baseball game I had, and in fact it kind of grew on me while I was playing it for this review, but it is the worst baseball game I have played on the Genesis up to this point. When it was released in 1991, a gamer looking for a baseball game could choose between this, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, and RBI Baseball 3. None of them are spectacular, but this is definitely the worst of the three. The best thing about it was that it came with a bunch of glossy cards advertising other Accolade games.