Championship Baseball Manual
Milton Bradley

Championship Baseball                                   Championship Baseball Cartridge

Title Screen.                                                                Championship Baseball Icon

Great Shot Pilot!

Alien Saucers Advancing!

Watch out! An Urbite Ship is onto you! 

  MANUFACTURER:  MILTON BRADLEY (Distributed by Texas Instruments)


RELEASED:  4Q/1983



REVIEW:  Grade A+: Here it is! The game that you hear people talking about all the time when it comes to the MBX gaming add-on! This was the cartridge that Milton Bradley advertised with the MBX system and demoed most actively at the various CES shows that they attended. Championship Baseball was without a doubt the MBX's flagship game! It received lengthy reviews not just back in 1983, but also in the 1990s when people were starting to get into collecting classic video games. In my opinion, if there was one type of game that could best implement the voice recognition, speech synthesis, action-input keypad, and special joystick the MBX had to offer it would be a baseball game. Speaking along those lines, I should mention that Championship Baseball was the only game to actually use all the features of the MBX to their full extent. This was because most of the other titles were games where it wouldn't make sense for them to use all of the bells and whistles the MBX had to offer. Anyway, enough of my rambling, lets get on to the review!

At first glance, it may seem that Championship Baseball is just your run-of-the-mill baseball game. However, screen shots can not portray just how involved of a baseball game this title is since most of the frills come from external devices (similar in a sense to the Colecovision driving controller used with Turbo). First and foremost, this game requires the MBX system to be plugged in (so if you don't have an MBX system, you will have to get one if you want to play this game) and is actually one of the few cartridges that require it. As with most baseball games, the game takes place inside a baseball stadium and features two teams (each team must be controlled by a human player, since there is no computer controlled team). When the game starts, the players rush out onto the field and get into their positions. The person up to bat is controlled by the MBX joystick and this is where what makes this game stand out from the rest begins. On the joystick the trigger button will simply swing the players baseball bat, but the control knob located on the top of the stick allows you to actually adjust the speed of your swing! Turning the control knob a little towards the right allows you to hit the ball deep while turning it completely to the right provides a faster, more powerful swing. If the knob is turned a little to the left on the other hand, it allows you to bunt the ball while a full turn to the left provides a slower and less powerful swing. These additional options provided by the MBX joystick help add more strategy to the game.
In addition to the control knob on the joystick, the 3 buttons on the back of the controllers also provide the player with a few options while running the bases. By pressing "Button 1" on the joystick while pushing up on the lever, you can actually make the player slide into a base. There actually is a purpose behind sliding into a base, as doing so speeds up the player which can be the difference between being safe or called out on a close call. Other options also available in the game are the ability to overrun first base by pressing the trigger button when near first, being able to "lead off" from a base, steal bases, and also run back to the previous base you were on if needed. As demonstrated by all these options, there is a a lot being offered here and I've only covered the team up to bat!

Before continuing I should make note of the great calls the umpire makes throughout the game, phrases like "Yer out!", "Steeerike!", and "Ball!" all sound realistic and add to the appeal/addicitiveness of the game. All you have to do is listen to the umpire to hear how the game is being called, which is much more fun than if the balls, strikes, etc were all simply just tallied on the board at the bottom of the screen without the voice. Now as to the players in the outfield (which again must be controlled by another person as there is no option to play against the computer), they are controlled through totally different means than one might think. Instead of using a joystick of any kind, the action-input keypad on the MBX unit itself is used to control which players you want to move to catch/throw a ball and also how you want the pitcher to throw. An overlay for the MBX membrane keypad is included with the game which uses pictures to show which buttons perform which functions. The use of the action-input membrane keypad really makes selecting which players you want to catch/throw a ball to very easy. In addition to being able to select someone on the field, there is also the option for tagging a player where the person with the ball will go after the runner if he's not on a base. It's just another feature that helps recreate the whole baseball experience more accurately on your TV set.

Another important aspect of the game is how the pitching is controlled (I know, this is a fairly lengthy review but believe me in that I am not trying to ramble on all that much. It's just there there is so much in this game to talk about!) . As mentioned earlier, selecting your pitches is all done on the action-input keypad on the MBX itself. However, there is not simply just one or two or even three ways to pitch. You can select from a variety of options to try and strike your opponent out. On the keypad you first select the speed of your pitch (slow, medium, or fast) and then where you want your pitch to be thrown (inside, middle, or outside). There is also the option to throw a curve ball which is a nice way of catching your opponent off guard. As you can see, there are a wide variety of pitching combos to choose from which again just adds more elements to an already great game. As a matter of fact, it almost feels like you are playing at an arcade because of the ability to use the keypad and fancy joysticks for controlling the players on the field!

In the final segment of this review I just wanted to comment on the speech recognition capabilities of the game, which is available on most MBX video game cartridges. The neat thing about Championship Baseball though is the ability to train the game to recognize the players by name. For example, instead of voice training the game to call the Shortstop by its position ("Shortstop"), you can actually train it to go by the name "Bill". It's just another feature that really makes the Championship Baseball all the more entertaining. As with a number of other MBX games, Championship Baseball also stands up there in the TOP 10 video games for the TI-99/4A system and definitely is recommended to all sports video game fans. What really sets it apart from even modern baseball games is the voice recognition capability, which probably will be a coming attraction in a few years (still!). If you're interested in seeing what the future of baseball video gaming holds you might have to take a step back 22 years! The only downside to the game though is the lack of a computer to play against, but hey bring a friend over and have a hot dog since this one is definitely a home run!

                                                                                                    Appeared in Retrogaming Times Monthly Issue #9

                                                                -Bryan Roppolo (Writes "The TI-99/4A Arcade" for Retrogaming Times)

TOUCAN'S TRIVIA: Championship Baseball was Milton Bradley's flagship game for the MBX gaming add-on. It was this game which was shown extensively at the January 1983 CES show and also was pictured on all MBX promotional material (such as the MBX Cartridge Catalog pictured at the bottom of this page).

TOUCAN'S TRIVIA: This game along with I'm Hiding and Terry Turtle's Adventure were offered for sale as 3rd party cartridges from Milton Bradley in addition to being sold through TI (this page is for the version sold through TI). The 3rd party releases came with different labels and cases than the cartridge pictured on this page. The 3 titles MB offered for sale independent of TI were the ones that required an MBX system in order to run, which helps explain why MB would have sold these as a 3rd party since they were responsible for manufacturing the actual MBX system. The 3rd party releases are extremely hard to come by, as only one MB release has been found to date and that being I'm Hiding.

TOUCAN'S TRIVIA: This game MUST be used with Milton Bradley's MBX System (an add-on for the TI-99/4A). The MBX allowed for the use of Voice Recognition, improved Speech Synthesis, a 360° Analog Joystick, and an Action-Input Keypad for video games designed for it. Since Championship Baseball was designed around all these features, you must have the MBX plugged into the TI-99/4A to play this game.

Championship Baseball Overlay Championship Baseball MBX Overlay

MBX Cartridge Catalog
MBX Cartridge Catalog


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