In the video above, the computer (in red and white uniform) bats first. My pitcher throws some good stuff and gets out of the inning without allowing a single hit. The computer then pitches and things get a bit tough for him/it. After a nice strike inside, the computer makes a huge mistake in its pitch location and gives up a home run. That’s when I chose to stop the video! Those who pay real attention may have noticed that the video goes from the top of the 1st inning to the bottom of the 2nd, which means I didn't do that well batting in the bottom of the 1st.
Let’s start with the pitching, shall we? You have 4 types of pitches available. What they are depend on the pitcher who is currently on the mound. So, you select the pitch and then you pick a location with the directional pad (if you don’t pick a location, the pitch is going straight down the pipe). Can’t be more simple, can it?
Batting is quite straightforward and natural. For those who like to bunt, you certainly can do so. If there are base runners, you have the option to steal. It’s possible there are more options but I haven’t been that far. For a normal swing at the baseball, just press on the button without doing anything with the directional pad. To add some spice to your batting, once the pitch leaves the pitcher’s arm, you can press the directional pad in order to swing high, low, inside or outside. I personally don’t bother with this since it’s already hard enough to time the swing right.
Fielding relies on the directional pad as expected. To throw to first, you have to press to the right on the pad and click the button. I am sure you can figure out how to throw to the other bases.
Base running (once the ball is hit) follows the same concept. To get past first base on a possible double, you have to press the directional pad up. In other words, you press the pad where you want the base runner to go.
Don’t expect to see the names of famous baseball players of the era in the lineups. Don’t even expect to see the names of real teams in there. The only two teams available are the all-stars and the champs. Bummer! I however think that there was some kind of (underground) editor to replace those 2 teams with your favorite ones.
To me, Hardball is the best baseball game on the Commodore 64 (and on a whole lot of other machines after that). The graphics are ace, the interface is swell and the game play is (still) amazing. Trust me, a lot of those games haven't aged well but this one is still fun to play. The only thing that's a bit annoying is that it sometimes feels that it takes forever for the ball to travel.