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‘Baseball Stars’ still the schoolyard champ of America’s gaming pastime

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With opening day and another marathon season of division battles and pennant runs upon us, naturally gamers may get an urge to abandon their televisions for the ballpark, outside in the toasty sun, where the crack of the bat, playful tones of the organ, and smell of freshly cut green grass and pine tar inspire thoughts of a time long ago, when life was less complicated and more fun. As an alternative, Baseball Stars for the NES satisfies that craving like no other simulation of the sport can, managing to appeal to both die-hard and casual fans alike, all while keeping players safely indoors, where sodas and hot dogs are plentiful and cheap, and the soft glow of the screen prevents unwanted tanning.

The game of baseball garners devoted fans for many reasons, and with its multi-faceted approach to offense and defense highlighted by the pitcher vs batter duel, as well as an emphasis on stats, it has long been a perfect fit for video games. Rarely, however, have any truly captured that pure feel of the sport with joy and balance well enough to keep me from strapping my own cleats on and having a warm up catch or game of hotbox like Baseball Stars. While earlier attempts such as Bases Loaded may have looked cooler and allowed angry batters to charge the mound, they often suffered from stiff, basic mechanics or limited play options, such as vastly shortened seasons or fixed stats (looking at you RBI Baseball). Modern franchises haven’t fared much better, focusing on making sure that those braided necklace animations are as realistic as possible and that wannabe general managers can try their hand at moneyball (hint: just like in real life it doesn’t work), offering up enough ways of calculating statistical data to confuse a math professor.

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Hey! Strikeouts are fascist!

 

Still, regardless of what many of these other titles do right, they continue to miss the point, warranting yet another tedious season in AAA. The makers seem more used to experiencing the sport through the lens of a television camera instead of out on the turf, where cowhide meets cowhide. What makes Baseball Stars stand out from the rest of the top prospects is not only the balanced way in which it approaches the many aspects of the sport, but also its heart; Baseball Stars understands what makes taking the field or stepping into the batter’s box magical, and that happens during innings.

This is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball; why make the basics more complicated than that? Baseball at its core is something that anyone should be able to understand and play fairly quickly. Sure, strategy like pitch sequencing or position shifts can make a difference, but in the end if a batter puts the right swing on a sinker in the dirt it can still sail over the fence; it’s just instinct and reflexes. This is essentially how the sport is played from stickball in the streets to little league parks and the modern coliseums of the pros. While obviously a limitation of the console it was released for, the beauty of Baseball Stars‘ two-button system is that the player’s focus can stay where it belongs, on the game, instead of half-concerned with worrying about input combinations. Throw the ball with A, run to a base with B; swing the bat with A, steal with B – easy as a 4-6-3.

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The NES controller’s directional pad works so intuitively on both sides of the ball that it almost feels made to be assigned those bases, and since fielders automatically catch the ball when anywhere near it, players can keep more of an eye on runners straying too far off the bag or trying to stretch that double into a triple. Whether jumping at the fence to rob an friend’s slugger of a home run or executing a flawless suicide squeeze with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line, Baseball Stars is about great moments, the sort that kids dream of while they work on their curveball against a chain-link fence. Smashing that walk-off home run or picking your buddy off at second brings the sort of gleeful smile that reminds one of why we love this game in the first place.

Sure, that Baseball Stars shipped with a battery backup in the cartridge that allowed for player creation and cumulative tracking of stats makes more headlines, but baseball isn’t about whether or not you can create an entire team of Chuck Norris’ (although that would be cool). You can easily play as the ninja cheater team or that one made up of classic monsters like Frankenstein and have just as good a time. Bells and whistles are nice, but when the game is on the line in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, pitchers are fatigued, batters are stepping into the box, and an entire bar full of weekend celebrators is watching, cumulative stats don’t matter anymore. Building a team on paper is great, but real growth happens on the field, in those moments where plays are executed and heroes are born.

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This is what it’s all about

 

I’ve never played a video game that captured my favorite sport better than Baseball Stars. There’s something about strapping on a mitt or digging my cleats into the dirt that feels right, and the same can be said for SNK’s original NES release, even after all these years. As I watch my beloved Minnesota Twins hopefully vie for another Central Division title I’ll be playing a 125-game season of my own, full of elation and heartbreak, as I maneuver my squadron with pin-point precision in games bound to include as many Web Gems and tape-measure shots as the real deal, feeling like a kid again the whole time. The magic of baseball is back, and thanks to Baseball Stars it never has to leave. Play ball!

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’

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Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight

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For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.


Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo

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The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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