Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a truly bizarre concept…but a fantastic beat ‘em up
Ninja Baseball Bat Man may be one of the most truly insane ideas for a video game. The title alone should be enough to make someone’s head spin. Saying the title out loud is going to make any gamer look at you with a confusing expression.
However, Ninja Baseball Bat Man’s zaniness carries over into some amusing, and lovable, gameplay. Utilizing a tired and true formula in the consistently fun beat ‘em up genre, Ninja Baseball Bat Man stands out thanks to its’ immensely bright graphics and unique world.
Initially created by Irem America employee, Drew Maniscalo, the idea was to combine several popular properties into one giant game. Maniscalo took a look at two top grossing films (1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and 1992’s Batman Returns) and his longtime love for baseball to create this nonsensical game. Irem in Japan was responsible for the game’s art style and tweaking the gameplay.
How did Ninja Baseball Bat Man not become a huge hit? For starters, it’s almost too offbeat of a concept for many gamers. Although, according to Maniscalo on his website, Irem America and Japan were heavily focusing on the SNES Which resulted in poor marketing and an apathetic approach from the company. Weirdly enough, Ninja Baseball Bat Man does not have any home releases where it could have found an audience.
A colorful, creative and overall fun world inhabit Ninja Baseball Bat Man
A collection of priceless golden baseball artifacts have been stolen and the Commissioner of Baseball (yes, that is his actual name) has called upon an elite team of fighters. They are…the NINJA BASEBALL BATMAN! Or Bat Men?
The graphics and overall style of the game is what makes Ninja Baseball Bat Man a game worth checking out. Aside from the gorgeous and well-used color palatte, Ninja Baseball Bat Man contains a metric ton of personality. The characters ridiculous facial expressions are similar to classic Warner Bros. and Tex Avery cartoons. Bosses will sob tears when they are being beaten, and the team of ninjas will show-off their personalities in the game’s in-between cutscenes.
The title characters are a team of crime fighters who happen to be cybernetic ninjas who play baseball. Each of them are named after MLB superstars of the 90s. Captain Jose, the red ninja is named after Jose Canseco; the little green guy, Twinbats Ryno, is a tribute to Ryne “Ryno” Sandberg; the yellow and rotund Beanball Roger is a reference to now-infamous pitcher Roger Clemens; and lastly is Stick Straw, a skinny blue ninja named after Daryl Strawberry. Longtime fans of America’s Pastime can have a chuckle at the allusions.
The game is a four-player arcade beat ‘em up. Fans of Konami’s X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games will feel right at home. It’s never too chaotic, but there are enough enemies to give the ninjas some batting practice. Each of the ninjas have their own stats and special moves.
Players will have to input the moves fighting game style with a combination of joystick moves and button presses. Jose is the balanced fighter; Ryno is a fast, combo machine; Roger hits hard but is slow; and Straw has the longest range. It is not the most diverse differences, but they each of the ninjas are fun to play and are at least distinct. Compared to Ninja Turles or X-Men there is a little more depth.
Players will be traveling to major US cities, each of them associating with baseball. Seattle, San Francisco (dubbed ‘Cisco in the game), the state of Texas (which is home to two MLB teams, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros) and of course New York City. Every stage has an over-the-top stereotype or trait about it. For example, Chicago is still stuck in the 1920s with gangsters. It adds to the goofy charm of it all.
Each stage will have silly baseball-themed enemies. Ranging from anthropomophic baseballs and bats to evil baseball gloves. And the final boss of the game, without giving anything away, is one of baseball’s greatest legends. It’s an absolute bonkers final fight.
One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a truly weird and wonderful game from a weird and wonderful decade like the 90s. The game’s approach to the beat ‘em up genre does not shine in gameplay, but rather in its bizarrely engaging atmosphere. It also helps that the game is four player and is exceedingly entertaining throughout the adventure. Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a game any fan of the genre would consider a home run.