Console: NES

Company: Broderbund

Release Date: March 1990

Genre: Sports 

Number of Players: 1 or 2

Save Feature? Yes

When I came across Dusty Diamond for $1 at a yard sale, I figured that I had nothing to lose. Even though I had played virtually every NES baseball game out there, this one looked interesting. I couldn't have been more right. Out of all of the NES baseball games, Dusty Diamond is my all-time favorite! The game simply screams fun with its depth and superior gameplay.

Overview: Dusty Diamond is anything but your normal baseball game. First off, this game is "softball" so some of the rules are a bit different (e.g. a foul with two strikes is an out on some fields, the rules change if the game goes 14 innings, etc...). Secondly, the game is incredibly deep! There are 60 players to choose from and each player has different strengths/weaknesses. You've got power hitters, sensational pitchers, exceptional defenders, etc... What makes this game really stand out is the "special abilities" that some characters possess. Some players can jump/dive for balls, some can climb over the fence, some can get through obstacles such as water and mud, and some can even float in midair! In addition to all of these abilities, there are players that perform best at night (after the 4th inning) or do their best on a particular field. There are six fields too; this gives the game a lot of diversity. Each field has different rules (e.g. if you break a window at the school you're out), home run lines (hitting a homer at the Professional Field is a lot harder than leaving the yard at the Sandlot) and various obstacles such as rocks and rough areas. As you can see, there is a whole lot to this game.

Graphics: Upon first sight, Dusty Diamond's graphics are anything but impressive. When placed next to a game like Bases Loaded, there's no comparison. However, I have grown to enjoy the sights of Dusty Diamond. The graphics are colorful and each field has its own atmosphere. One thing that impressed me was that each character looks different and you can easily tell who's who in this game. It's nice to have a game that doesn't have a bunch of identical-looking characters in the outfield. The best aspect of the game's graphics has to be the neat personality. The facial expressions and movements of the various characters are simply hilarious! Some of the characters such as Binky hop up and down when they run. This is so funny to see in action! Some pitchers such as Froggy do a funny "triple-pump" when they pitch too. To make the game even wackier, some characters use strange items when batting. Artie uses a funny-looking pickax, Diablo uses a powerful mace, and Zelda tries her luck with a broom of all things! The humor and wonderful personality of the game far outweighs the mediocre graphics when fielding.

Music: For some reason, the music in Dusty Diamond reminded me of Bubble Bobble. While the tunes are short and repetitive, they're catchy as well! The tunes in this game can really stay in your head (whether that's a good thing or not I don't know). Unlike many baseball games (e.g. Bases Loaded 2), the music doesn't become annoying in the least. Some of the sound effects such as players making errors or getting run over (yes, you can even run over defenders in this game) are pretty funny as well. As long as you don't go into this game expecting a Mega Man 2-esque soundtrack, you'll be fine.

Play Control: The play control in Dusty Diamond is nothing short of masterful. While I enjoy batting and nailing home runs, I have a blast playing defense as well. It's so cool that you can make leaping grabs or tough dives; it makes playing defense a lot of fun. I enjoy having players that float (e.g. Dizzy) on my team too; it's hard to get home runs past these players! While controlling the slower players (e.g. Johnny) is difficult, moving around speed demons like Slick (even though he looks like a pig...literally!) or Louis is a breeze. Batting is easy as pie and pitching is simple as well. Overall, Dusty Diamond has very "friendly" play control.

Challenge: Few baseball games can test your skills like Dusty Diamond. While the first five games aren't too tough, the championship game versus the mighty Amazons is very difficult. Without exceptional defense or intelligent offensive strategy, you won't beat this game. The players you select at the beginning of the game affect the game's challenge level as well. It's important to get some power hitters and good pitchers but make sure that you select some great outfielders as well! Balance is the key. Also, it's critical to have a good batting lineup and to place your characters in the right fielding positions. If you have Diablo in the outfield, your team will be doomed. :)

Storyline: It's difficult for a sports game like this to have any form of a plot. However, the legend of Dusty Diamond gets the job done. It's that time of year again when the baseball bats are polished and the pitcher's mound is molded to perfection; the time with last year's heroes try to reclaim their prestigious position while last year's goats can't resist screwing up once more. Like every year, there are six 10 player teams that battle each other for the softball crown. The team that somehow manages to win five arduous games in a row will receive an even tougher task: trying not to get killed by the defending champs: the Amazons. With a lot of skill and a little help from Dusty Diamond himself, perhaps your team can shock the nation (or at least the community) and win the elusive softball championship!

Funfactor: The forte of Dusty Diamond is the engrossing gameplay. Once you get a few games under your belt, you'll be hooked on this game. While it's very enjoyable with one player, the game is a two-player masterpiece! I've played Dusty Diamond with five or six friends and every single one loves playing the game. The combination of humor, variety, and incredible depth makes Dusty Diamond a winner! This game is the perfect example of gameplay being more important than graphics. You can have your "state-of-the-art" graphics but I'll choose Dusty Diamond's gameplay...thank you! :)

Negatives: As I've mentioned already, the graphics aren't much to write home about. They aren't bad but they're not so great either. A little more detail when you're fielding would have been nice. Besides that, this game is a gem!


Ratings: Graphics: 3.4 Music: 3.6 Play Control: 4.7 Challenge: 4.5 Storyline: 4.0 Funfactor: 4.9 Overall Score: 25.1 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Bronze Bravo


Last Updated: October 23, 2009
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