Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a unique beat ‘em up game developed by the Irem Corporation in 1993. It has nothing to do with Batman. Don’t believe me? Look closer, there’s a space between the words. The Irem Corporation is not getting sued today.
Ninja Baseball Bat Man starts off as your typical beat ‘em up by giving you the choice of picking between 4 characters. No, these aren’t your typical fighters, these are baseball ninjas! They all play slightly differently so pick the one that looks like your typical favorite ninja turtle.
The story is pretty typical for a beat ‘em game, six items are stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame by a secret society named “Jado,” and it’s up to you to travel across America to get them all back. The guy giving you the mission is the commissioner and he looks really shady. Although, when have you ever trusted any commissioner.
Since this game takes place in America, I can’t wait to see how Japanese programmers portray them.
The first city up is Seattle where you’ll be fighting gloves, balls, and bats on dock. I really like beating up the baseball themed enemies, it really sets the tone for this silly beat ‘em up. Quickly you’ll discover there is NOTHING special about the controls. One button is jump and the other is attack, press them both and you’ll use a move that drains your life. Time the attack button by moving forward and you’ll do a power move.
Soon the game takes a left turn and I’m inside an airplane fighting ANOTHER airplane. How odd is that. As you drain the boss’s health, they lose parts of their body which means they change up their attacks. I love how the game does this. It’s so much better than flashing enemies that blink faster as they’re about to die.
Collect the golden baseball bat and you’ll head off to San Francisco where you fight across none other than the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll start the level by running down enemies in a car, but unfortunately these sections don’t last very long.
When you’re about to fight any boss in the game, trumpet playing baseballs appear from the floor and play some entrance music. It’s a really unique touch. Sorta like in Streets of Rage when they change up the music when you’re about to fight a boss battle.
Time to travel to the city of neon, Las Vegas, where all the enemies are gambling based. You could even say these cars are hot.
This level’s boss’ special moves are determined by the slot machine. Coins, enemies, and even giant dice are trying to stop you. This is a great boss fight because of the unpredictability. After playing this game a couple times, I noticed that it was truely random and not the illusion of it being random by using certain moves after a given timeframe.
After you destroy a slot machine, you collect the golden hall of fame hat and you’re off to Texas. This level takes place in a haunted house, because when I think Texas, I think evil spirits and demons. Maybe the developers have seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre one too many times.
Zombie baseballs rise from the ground, there are weird shadow monsters, and EVEN the furniture tries to attack you. Ghosts need to eat as well because there are possessed hamburgers that you can eat once you beat them. I’m not sure I would ever eat a ghost hamburger, maybe if it was seasoned right.
At this point the boss battles become pretty cheap. If I was playing in an arcade I would have given up by now as this is a just a cheap tactic to suck your quarters. Then there’s the music. It sounds too tinny and there are low, repetitive ‘vocals’ that sound like it came out of a 90s fruit punch commercial. Needless to say, the music gave me a slight headache. Luckily this isn’t a video review or I’d subject you to this awful soundtrack.
Once you’ve left Texas you’re off to Florida, land of swamp creatures. I’m fine with the location. Any other developer would have set this level in a theme park.
As you fight through the stage you come across a machine that turns statues into the enemies you’re fighting. I can see why they choose some of these statues, just look at the baseballs on that one!
One thing that is a cliché about Florida is the final boss is an alligator. At least this one is mechanical. A nice touch and when you beat him, he turns into a purse and some shoes.
I’m almost done with the game and I’m off to Chicago. Let’s see what the villains are here. Being that it’s a stone’s throw from the city I grew up in, I’d love to see what they come up with.
Great, mobsters dogs. Hey Scruff Mcgruff Chicago Illinois 60652 I thought you were supposed to stop crime. Stop being such a cliché for this city. I get it though, I like that the game has a sense of humor about Chicago’s corruption. At least it’s trying to be creative with its enemies instead of making some fight some generic makeshift villain.
Just when you think you found all the items the game throws an M Night Shamalama twist! You find out that the commissioner is a lying sack of steroids and wanted all of the baseball memorabilia for yourself. So now you head off to the final stage to save baseball forever, New York City.
…. Big Apple 3am.
Knowing that Turtles in Time was released 2 years before this game, I’m not quite sure if it’s a homage or a blatant rip-off.
Once you get to the stadium you end up fighting the commissioner who uses the statue’s secret transformative power to turn into King Babe. If you couldn’t tell, this is an obvious reference to Babe Ruth. That’s right this game throws out all the references when it comes to baseball.
Like most arcade final bosses, it felt as though he had some unavoidable attacks that are just there to eat away at your quarters.
Once you beat him, you get all the items back and there’s only one thing to do.
POW BAM WAM-O! Straight to the moon
And that’s this arcade oddity. It took me about 45 minutes to complete but I’m sure you’d be able to beat it faster with 3 other people. The music did get annoying at times but the enemy design and unique take on the genre is something you don’t get very often. I’d recommend you check it out if you’re a fan of the genre, otherwise this game doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
Have you played Ninja Baseball Bat Man or have a different Arcade Oddity you think i should play? I want to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
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