Baseball (1983 video game)

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North American NES box art
Developer(s)Nintendo R&D1
Designer(s)Shigeru Miyamoto[4]
Composer(s)Yukio Kaneoka
Hirokazu Tanaka
SeriesMario Baseball
Famicom Disk System
Game Boy
  • Famicom/NES
    • JP: December 7, 1983
    • NA: October 18, 1985
    • EU: September 1, 1986
    Vs. Baseball (arcade)
  • List of re-releases
    • Famicom Disk System:
      • JP: February 21, 1986
    • Game Boy:
      • JP: April 21, 1989
      • NA: July 31, 1989[3]
      • EU: 1990
Mode(s)Single-player, two-player
Arcade systemNintendo VS. System

Baseball[a] is a video game from Nintendo. It was released December 7, 1983, after the July 15 launch of the Famicom in Japan.[5] In 1984, it was ported to the VS. System arcade as VS. Baseball with additional graphics and speech, becoming a number one hit in Japan and North America that year. It was localized as a Nintendo Entertainment System launch game in North America in 1985,[6] and in Europe in 1986.[7] IGN said the universal appeal of the American sport made Baseball a key to the NES's successful test market introduction, and an important piece of Nintendo history.[8] The game was also competing with Sega's arcade hit Champion Baseball, released earlier in 1983.


As in real baseball, the object of the game is to score the most runs. The game supports one player versus a computer opponent, or two players. Each player can select from one of six teams.

Though lacking a license of official team names,[8] their initials in the game correspond to the Japanese Central League or the American Major League Baseball teams in their respective regions. The only gameplay difference between teams is the uniform colors.[9]

Development and release[edit]

Shigeru Miyamoto recalled that in 1983, he "personally really wanted there to be a Baseball game" for the Famicom, and was "directly in charge of the character design and the game design". The Famicom had only three launch day games on July 15, 1983, and Baseball was released on December 7—totaling seven games by 1984.[4]

At the 1985 launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the Manhattan initial test market, the game was featured prominently among 17 total games. It was demonstrated on a large projector screen, by real Major League Baseball athletes who played the video game and signed autographs for fans. Because the video game industry was so young and had crashed in America in 1983, and because some other NES launch games like Clu Clu Land have abstract fantasy themes that are not instantly recognizable by a new audience, the presence of a traditional American pastime was said to be an instantly relatable aid to the system's introduction.[8]

It was ported to the arcade VS. System as VS. Baseball in 1984, competing with Sega's popular Champion Baseball (1983).[10]: 132–5 


Name Date Platform Notes
VS. Baseball 1984 Arcade VS. Series, with additional graphics and speech
Baseball 1986 PlayChoice-10 Arcade
Baseball 1989 Game Boy
Baseball 2002 e-Reader Barcoded cards, readable with e-Reader and Game Boy Advance.
Baseball 2002 GameCube Baseball is a bonus NES game in the GameCube game Animal Crossing.
Baseball 2007 Wii Virtual Console
Baseball 2011 3DS Virtual Console (Game Boy version)
Baseball 2013 Wii U Virtual Console
Baseball 2018 Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch Online, an emulator allowing online multiplayer.
VS. Baseball 2020 Nintendo Switch Part of the Arcade Archives series. Includes various new options.


In Japan, 2.35 million copies of the original Famicom version of Baseball were sold.[11] Worldwide, 3.2 million copies were sold for Famicom and NES.[12]

Game Machine magazine named VS. Baseball as Japan's most successful table arcade cabinet of June[13] and July 1984.[14] In the United States, VS. Baseball topped the arcade software conversion kit charts for several months in 1984: the RePlay charts from September[15] through October[16] to November,[17] and the Play Meter charts from October to November.[18] Play Meter also listed it as the top-grossing arcade game in December 1984.[19] In Europe, it had become a very popular arcade game by 1986.[2]

In 2007, IGN gave Baseball a 5.5 out of 10, noting its depth of pitching, its two-player support, "its still-intact sense of fun", and its important place in Nintendo's history. The review said that the 1985 test market launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System had "heavily relied upon" Baseball, due to the globally recognizable status of the sport. The review summarized that "the NES came out a winner—thanks, in part, to Baseball".[8]

In 2006, GameSpot gave Baseball a 4.2 out of 10, stating that while it was easy to play, the "bare-bones" replica of the sport "hasn't withstood the test of time".[9]

In 2020, historian Ken Horowitz said VS. Baseball (1984) lacks certain features of the competing Sega's Champion Baseball (1983), but has superior multiplayer capabilities.[10]

Baseball was a significant source of inspiration for Namco's Pro Baseball: Family Stadium (1986) for Famicom, which became the R.B.I. Baseball series.[20]


  1. ^ Japanese: ベースボール, Hepburn: Bēsubōru


  1. ^ a b Akagi, Masumi (October 13, 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. pp. 57, 128. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  2. ^ a b Edgeley, Clare (December 16, 1986). "Arcade Action". Computer and Video Games. No. 63 (January 1987). United Kingdom: EMAP. pp. 138–9. ISSN 0261-3697.
  3. ^ White, Dave (July 1989). "Electronic Gaming Monthly". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 3. p. 68.
  4. ^ a b Kohler, Chris. "Miyamoto Spills Donkey Kong's Darkest Secrets, 35 Years Later". Wired. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  5. ^ Cornelius, Dylan (April 21, 2020). "Baseball (Famicom, 1983)". Retro Gaming Archive. Retrieved March 7, 2021.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Matt (March 28, 2020). "All 30 Black Box Nes Games Guide (Including Pricing)". MCMROSE. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  7. ^ "NES Game List (Europe) | NinDB". Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d Thomas, Lucas M. (January 16, 2007). "Baseball VC Review". IGN. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Thomas, Aaron (January 4, 2007). "Baseball Review". GameSpot. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Horowitz, Ken (August 6, 2020). Beyond Donkey Kong: A History of Nintendo Arcade Games. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-1-4766-8420-8.
  11. ^ "Japan Platinum Game Chart". The Magic Box. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  12. ^ Guinness World Records 2015: Gamer's Edition. Vancouver, British Columbia: Jim Pattison Group. November 6, 2014. p. 105. ISBN 978-1908843654.
  13. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 237. Amusement Press, Inc. June 1, 1984. p. 29.
  14. ^ "Best Hit Games 25" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 239. Amusement Press, Inc. July 1, 1984. p. 25.
  15. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. September 1984.
  16. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. October 1984. p. 4.
  17. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. November 1984.
  18. ^ "National Play Meter". Play Meter. Vol. 10, no. 21. November 15, 1984. pp. 28–9.
  19. ^ Horowitz, Ken (August 6, 2020). Beyond Donkey Kong: A History of Nintendo Arcade Games. McFarland & Company. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-4766-8420-8.
  20. ^ Szczepaniak, John (August 11, 2014). The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers (First ed.). SMG Szczepaniak. p. 363. ISBN 978-0992926007.

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