With baseball season upon us we took a look through out opening day at the impact of technology in various aspects of the sport. Of particular interest was the story on the five best baseball video games of all time, but I had to ask myself how our guest writer totally overlooked the wonders of the Mattel Electronics Baseball handheld game of the late 1970’s. Inconceivable!
To be frank, these games were … horrific. Mattel Electronics, a division of the same Mattel that makes Barbie, went wild releasing these LED games that supposedly simulated all sorts of different sports themes. Eventually then even branched into licensed titles such as Battlestar Galactica, but they all kept the same system of just some red LED lights on a screen moving around. The only way to know you were playing said sports, or defending the Galactica from Cylons, was by the decorations on the game itself.
Considering that this was the late 1970’s, the idea of a “video game” (will use the term loosely) that you could fit in your hand was pretty wild. Each one could only play the game it was designed for, there was no swapping cartridges or downloading other things to play, the Baseball game was the Baseball game, and that was it.
I can’t recall how much these cost, but I do remember them oddly providing hours of fun. It’s only now, with the benefit of hindsight, that I realize just how awful they really were. You were simply moving lights around a screen and not really doing anything close to what the games suggested you were doing. Yes, you “hit” the ball, you “ran” the bases which was nothing more than lights moving on predetermined courses with no real sense of skill being involved. But, for the time, these things were darn near magical.