Whoa, “RealSports Baseball” is a shockingly good early 80s sports title right here on the Atari 5200! It’s much better than “Baseball”, released for the more powerful Nintendo Entertainment System a couple of years later. First of all, the graphics are impressive! There’s a home run fence, a crowd in the stands, a well rendered ball diamond and players that have some semblance of human features. But as we know, sports games are all about gameplay and “RealSports Baseball” gets the job done in this department as well. Pitching is a blast, batting uniquely takes advantage of the 5200 controller, and fielding isn’t nearly as tough as it is in other baseball games of the era. This version of “RS Baseball” has all the bells and whistles and gameplay to back up its lofty name.
“RealSports Football”, or just “Football” as some versions of the game are called, doesn’t fare quite as well. Because you have to enter plays onto the keypad, one of the key aspects of a football based video game is more cumbersome than it needs to be, but I understand what Atari was trying to do. “RealSports Football” tries to be a sophisticated game, showing off the 5200 graphics, larger RAM available in the cartridge, and use of keypad for more gameplay options. The problem is, it still isn’t very fun. “Tecmo Bowl” mastered the art of less is more on the NES but until that time, the thought was the more realistic the game, the better and more well received it would be. “RS Football” is just too slow, passes too difficult to complete and overall too complicated to be fun. Its a shame because Atari tried, but missed the mark.
“RealSports Tennis” is another game, like “RS Football” that looks fine and has potential but Atari really did this game no favors by incorporating the use of the keypad to direct your shot. You use the controller’s side buttons to serve and the joystick to move your player around the court. But the use of the keypad pretty much ruins this effort. Nice try, Atari but please never make another tennis game like this again.
Currently in my collection:
RealSports Baseball – game, manual A
RealSports Football – game, manual, 2 overlays D+
RealSports Tennis – game, manual F