Let's go back to my mid-1980s childhood for a moment.
I was a baseball-loving kid from New York, spurred on by mom and dad, friends, Little League, the trading card boom, and a golden age of local professional baseball. The Yankees had Mattingly, Rickey, Righetti ("Rags"), Pagliarulo ("Pags"), and Winfield. The Mets had Strawberry, Gooden, Hernandez, Carter, HoJo, and that entire cast of characters who were about to win a World Series.
And video games were everywhere. At that point in time they were coming in all imaginable varieties, from full-on arcade cabinets to the smallest, dinkiest of hand-held consoles.
Well, at some point last year, a memory from that time popped up: I had one of those hand-held consoles. Specifically, a baseball version.
I must have only been 6 or 7 years old at the time, so I couldn't remember the name, model number, or company that manufactured it. But the image of the console? And the sounds it produced? I sure remembered those. I figured I might be able to find the game with a quick online search using keywords like hand-held, baseball game, and 1980s. (Take a moment to enter those keywords into a search engine, select the "images" filter, and marvel at the sheer variety of games that come up.)
Happily, among the outrageous number of results, I did find an image of the same game that I had all those years ago. And better yet, after plugging the game's specific name into an eBay search, I found that there were quite a few working models up for auction at reasonable prices!
The nostalgia factor was high here. High enough, in fact, that I placed a bid and soon reclaimed that little piece of childhood.
Here it is:
Electronic Baseball 2, brought to you by Entex Electronics. Complete with box! Here's a look at the back. Check out that detailed inner panel.
And even more details on the flap.
"Knuckle-ball" speed control
Continuous cumulative scoring for both teams
And best of all...
No TV set Needed!
Also included was a fairly detailed instruction booklet.
And even a scorecard! (Be sure to make some photocopies. Only one scorecard is included.)
Now let's look at the console itself.
Who needs a fancy touchscreen when you have those glorious buttons and switches?
Here's a look at the two-player mode with the pitching controller detached, ready for game play.
And a closer look at pitch selection.
It's interesting to note that the fastball does move noticeably faster than the other pitches. The change-up stays straight like the fastball, just slower in speed. The curve breaks around one side of the plate, whereas the slider breaks around the other. Sometimes those two pitches will come back around for a strike, while other times they stay outside for a ball. As a hitter, you can choose to swing or lay off. If you do swing, it is possible to make contact on both of them for hits or outs.
Then there's the "knuckler" option. It's only available in two-player mode. However, you don't select it as your pitch. Instead, you select a change-up, curve, or slider. Once that pitch is on its way to home plate, you can press the knuckler button, and it'll speed up the pitch. As you can imagine, this can completely throw off the timing of the hitter. The knuckler button also functions as a catcher's throw to second base if your opponent attempts a steal, which the game indicates with a separate warning sound.
Considering the game has a copyright of 1979, I'm impressed with all that sophistication.
You know what else is sophisticated? Your timing when you press the "batter" button actually affects the outcome of your swing. Tap the button too early, and the batter "pulls" the ball to third base or left field, often for an out. Swing too late, and the batter "pushes" the ball to first base or right field, again, often for an out. (Yep, the batter is always considered right-handed in this game.) There's some randomness to the game too, of course. But you do need to practice your timing.
Want to see some game play now?
What a festival of 1980s sights and sounds and technology.
With the demonstration complete, I'm not sure how much I'll actually play this game. Battery-operated electronics that are 40 years old tend to be sensitive when it comes to things like temperature changes, metal tabs, and corrosion. (I've already removed the batteries from their compartment, to be safe.)
But it's very cool to have this game in my possession again. I think I'll open up the box and play a few innings every now and then, just for that dose of nostalgia.
How about you readers? Do you have any memories of hand-held games like this one?
Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!