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1-2 Players

Game Type

Sports Simulation

Mem. Card

Review Date

June 1997

Setting the Scene

Get your peanuts here...Hot Dogs! Popcorn! Ah yes, it's baseball season again and for us lucky PlayStation owners it means a ton of new baseball games all vying for our attention and hard earned cash. Enter Grand Slam, Virgin's first attempt at the burgeoning PlayStation baseball lineup. It's a tough field and this title would really have to go above and beyond to capture the title from EA's Triple Play...Let's see if it succeeds or not...


Grand Slam is an arcade style baseball game, plain and simple.


Ouch! Being that this is the first time that Virgin has attempted a 32-bit baseball game, I suppose they decided to go with the "safe" approach and use motion-captured, sprite based players. Unfortunately when compared to the 2nd gen polygon based titles that are coming out this year, the player graphics just don't compare very favorably. This is not to say that they are not good, in fact when compared to any of last years baseball games, the graphics stack up quite nicely...they just don't come close to a few of this years offerings.

Since STATS Inc. was used the game claims to "mimic" the actual player movements and idiosyncrasies in addition to the players statistics. What I actually saw was a surprising number of "signature" moves for some of the players, but certainly nothing overwhelming. For the most part a player scratches this or twitches that...Oh, the players are actually supposed to be modeled to resemble their real life counterparts...some are tall while others are shorter, heavier, etc. That added a nice touch of realism to the game.

Player animation is decent, showing a good variety of moves in the field and when making plays...everything is very easy to follow. It's too bad the characters don't do anything while in idle mode. It would have been funny if the programmers added stuff like the batter fidgeting or the pitcher smacking his glove.

One last player detail...there are no player names or numbers on the jerseys...oh well.

The ballparks are also modeled very nicely, but again they are a notch below some of this years other offerings. When viewed close up the scoreboard and diamond-vision display screens pixelate quite badly...that's a shame, because from behind the plate they actually look pretty good.

There is also a nice fly-by feature that has the camera following the players hit ball. The screen scrolls by nicely as the ball leaves the players bat and flies into the outfield.

Overall you have here a decent graphics engine at work, just nothing earth shattering.

Sounds and Effects

Pretty darn good sound effects can be found in this game. The crack of the bat is nicely done and the crowd participation is on the money. The home team will get a much better response (whether it is cheers or boos) than the visitors. Another nice little diddy is when you are waiting to pitch between plays...during this time you can hear the vendors in the background asking if you want peanuts, etc...It brought a smile to my face when this first happened.

The announcer is unfortunately only average. The quality of the voice is okay, but sometimes hard to understand. He keeps a good tab on the batters previous at bat, but tends to repeat the same coined phrases over and over again.

The now standard organ music fare is also present and done well.


Here is where the game really comes into it's own. In plain english, this game is fun to play. From the simple control layout to the pitching and batting meters, players are able to jump right in and begin swinging. This of course makes for an excellent two player game. You don't have to spend an hour trying to explain all of the multiple button commands that are in some of the other baseball sims. It was one of the few baseball games that I picked up that put a smile on my face right from the get go and kept it there for some time. Everything just felt very natural and automatic. When I wanted a player to run, he ran...when I needed him to retreat he retreated instead of continuing to run because I missed one of the 50 button combinations needed to get the player to go back...this is of course just an exaggeration, but anyone having played some of the other titles will know what I often takes some time to get used to.

First things first, Grand Slam plays more like an arcade game than a baseball sim. Yes you have a ton of stats to track, but it fails to deliver all of the technical nuances of a really good sim like TP '97. The game moves along nice and quick and there's no crap going on in between innings, just the first three batters scheduled to hit and bang your in there.

You are given more than 800 MLBPA players that are based on the 1996 season stats, with up-to-date team rosters that include key August minor league call ups! You can participate in exhibition or home run derby and there are three different season lengths that you can select from.

Stepping up to the plate you have a choice of using the batting meter or going it alone. The batting meter is a nice option that presents a real forces you to make a call on what the pitcher is going to throw...make a bad guess and you'll end up under / overswinging every time and usually missing the ball completely. I also like the fact that it's an don't HAVE to use the batting meter. Anyway, batting meter or not hitting the ball is a little weird. It almost seems as if you have to swing a little late to make contact with the ball. It's easy enough to get used to, but takes a bit of the realism away. Make contact with the ball and your off! Moving the players around the bases is a breeze and very easy to pick up on. Computer AI is also decent, reacting to players if they lead off a bit too much, etc. I often found myself getting picked off or caught in a run down situation because I wasn't focused enough. The computer plays a pretty tight game.

The pitching is a lot of fun also. In pitching mode, you are treated to a pitching meter in the upper right hand portion of the screen. The meter is used in a very similar manner as in a golf game. Press and hold the "x" to wind-up, when you think you have enough power (the needle goes into the red zone), release the "x" it one more time when the needle lands in the green zone and the ball will go right where you want it. Sounds easy? Well, not quite...constantly pushing the needle into the red zone will tire your pitcher out much more quickly. It also means that unless you nail the needle in the green zone upon release, your ball most likely NOT go where you intended! There are three pitching modes. In the hardest one, the green zone is the width of a paper clip. As you can tell, it's not as simple as it may seem, but that's a good's adds a lot of challenge in the harder level and makes you work for your pitches to be successful.

Another nice little feature of note is the special awards that are given out at the end of a season...Rookie of the year, most RBI's, home runs, etc. This adds a nice touch to the overall package.

Some down sides that I have noticed: It's not very straight-forward when trading players...the menu used for this process could be much more user friendly. There is no "create a player" option...that is a shame. When on auto fielding, the closest player to the ball is not always the one that will try to make the play, and finally there are only four camera angles to choose from (although they are all quite good).

These gripes aside, what you have here is a very "playable" game that could have used a bit more polish in the graphics arena and technical gameplay.

Value for Money

With all of the choices available for baseball fanatics, this title might get lost in the shuffle and that would be a shame. It's a highly enjoyable arcade style baseball game that rewards those that stick with it. It certainly provides a good challenge against the computer and really shines in two player mode.





While Grand Slam may not get my vote for best baseball game of 1997, it is certainly right up there. The graphics aren't the best ever seen in a console baseball game and the announcer can get rather repetitious, but for an overall enjoyable experience this game is hard to beat. Yes Triple Play has better graphics, better announcers and more options, but for overall fun I always find myself going back to Grand Slam in the long run.











This game is easy to get into and plays very well and while its not the most comprehensive game of its type, its still well worth a look.








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