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I’ve never played a whole lot of sports related video games. I covered my favorites on the Commodore 64 recently (The Games series by Epyx). The only other sports game I can recall playing on the Commodore 64 is HardBall!.
HardBall!, as the games suggests, is a baseball game and it was released for various home computers, including the Commodore 64, in 1985. The graphics were excellent on the Commodore 64 and the game play was fairly straightforward. There were not a huge number of options so the game was not that complicated. There are only two teams, each with their own roster of players. There are multiple pitchers and other players for each team and you can make substitutions but there are not a huge number to chose from though this does offer some strategy. Your pitcher does get tired and may need to be replaced if you don’t want to throw home run pitches all the time.
Each pitcher has a list of pitches to chose from and each player has their own stats. It would have been nice if there was more to chose from in this regard (or if it had the ability to add additional players) but there is something to be said for simplicity. The game offers some enjoyment when playing against the computer but the computer can be a tough opponent and a second player is always more fun. HardBall! was notable for being the first baseball game to present a behind the pitcher viewpoint.
The original HardBall! was also available on the Apple II, Apple IIgs, Atari 8-bit, Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Sega Genesis, Macintosh and a few other systems. The Commodore 64 version compares reasonably well with the versions for more advanced systems. Though the original has never been re-released, HardBall! was successful enough to spawn a number of sequels. There were six major releases with some of those having multiple editions. Only the first was ever available on the Commodore 64. The final iteration was Hardball 6: 2000 Edition which came out in 1999 for Windows based computers.
The review above for the Commodore 64 version comes from the May/June 1986 issue of Commodore Microcomputers. It is mostly positive but does mention the difficulty of the computer opponent. For an arcade baseball game it was pretty decent for its time.
If there was a home computer available in the U.S. (and there were a lot of them) then Compute! covered it at some point. The July 1984 issue of Compute! includes:
- Evolutionary to the Core: The Apple IIc Heads for Home
- How to Choose A Home Data Program
- The ABC’s of Data Bases
- The Promise of Things to Come: Atari’s New Lease on Life
Education and Recreation
- Statistics for Nonstaticians
- Bunny Hop
- M’File for the Commodore 64
Columns and Departments
- The Editor’s Notes
- Readers’ Feedback
- The World Inside The Computer: Computing Together
- The Beginner’s Page: Trapping Bugs
- Computers and Society: Technostress
- Learning with Computers: The Computer Speaks, But Will It Listen?
- INSIGHT: Atari
- 64 Explorer
- Machine Language: Decimal Mode, Part 1
- Programming the TI: Programming Techniques in TI BASIC
- Atari Artist
- Programming 64 Sound, Part 2
- Applesoft Lister
- Program Conversion With Sinclair BASIC and TI BASIC
- Commodore 64 ROM Generations
- Atari MacroDOS: Part 2
- Commodore Garbage Collection, Part 2