I was at a local bar called B-Side, which recently installed an arcade full of classic videogames and pinball tables. They have the first Pinball2000 game, Revenge From Mars, and a Star Wars pinball table. They have a good selection of arcade classics from the 80’s and 90’s, from Galaga, Defender and Centipede to Contra and NBA Jam.
But I was absolutely blown away by a game called Ninja Baseball Batman, which I’d never even heard of before. An Irem-produced side-scrolling beat-em-up from the 1990’s, themed with what can only be described as Japanese wackiness taken about as far as it goes. You play a member from a 4-person team of superhero robot ninja baseball players, each with their own statistics and special moves. This game is so chock full of WTF, you initially go “what the heck IS this??!?” but pretty much right away you get into it and go with it. You fight a menagerie of odd robots and monsters made out of junk, vaguely reminiscent of mega man enemies, but (mostly) baseball themed, with some casino-themed monsters and some halloween-themed robots. Nothing makes any sense at all, but that’s the point. Just go with it and have fun. There’s even living hamburger monsters that you can eat for a life bonus after you defeat them. I can’t even describe this game, you have to see it. Fortunately, there’s YouTube:
The gameplay is absolutely fantastic. I beat the entire game on $2.75 — I don’t know if it has an easy mode, but it felt pretty easy, but it was so fun. The game is generous, not a quarter-sucker, takes no cheap shots, and is a pure joy to play. The movesets for each player are extensive, and I couldn’t get over how fluid the fighting system was. It felt similar to the Konami beat-em-up Ninja Turtle and Simpsons Arcade games, but with unmarketable characters with no built-in audience. But it was so incredibly surreal and awesome, I couldn’t help but fall immediately and utterly in love with it.
Having done so, I must evangelize it. It is worth hunting down and playing. Go do so. Now.
Here’s a bonus Angry Video Game Nerd review:
I agree COMPLETELY with every word he says in this video.
Apparently only 43 arcade cabinets were ever imported to North America, making this game ultra-rare. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found this at B-Side.