Triple Play ’97

Snap24A solid arcade baseball game.

Despite the fact that EA has positioned Triple Play: Virtual Stadium Baseball 97 as an arcade game, it still has season play, playoffs, a home run derby and an all-star game. Season play includes trades, free agent signings, and a player editor. In-game options are pretty detailed, with all kinds of selections available for control and game conditions. As usual, the computer can be assigned to control either or both teams, or you can choose to play solo or in two-player mode with joystick or keyboard.

Each game in Triple Play 97 begins with a CGI video clip of the stadium from an aerial perspective, slowly circling toward the diamond, followed by a booming PA announcement: “EA Sports presents Triple Play Baseball!†The stadiums are accurately rendered, and the shifting camera perspectives mean that you actually get to see most of the ballpark during a game. The players look good, and move without the jerkiness seen in other action-oriented sports games.

Triple Play 97 behaves pretty much like the standard arcade baseball game. Stats are minimal, and hitting is basically two-dimensional (varying speeds and side-to-side movement on pitches) and very easy. Pitcher fatigue is rated by a status bar which goes from green to yellow to red, and strategy is limited. You can’t double-switch, and there are no pitcher warmups.

Snap7TP97’s gloss hides some irritating deficiencies. Control, though generally good, can be a problem. Sometimes the computer is hesitant to respond to your orders, and trying to switch the control from one player to another during the action can be frustrating. A bigger problem is the AI. Computer-controlled fielding is meant to aid the human player – but computer fielders often behave stupidly, letting fly balls drop or failing to cover bases. Switching to manual fielding helps eliminate fielder stupidity. Baserunning is another problem, since runners commit mistakes with frustrating regularity.

Triple Play 97 won’t be a difficult game to conquer, especially for pros. You can manage lousy teams to record-breaking seasons, hit monstrous home runs, steal bases at will, and throw no-hitters like crazy if you know the secrets. If you need some extra punch, make a few lopsided trades. Still, we shouldn’t forget this is an arcade game, and the game’s stronger points – fast play, easy access and fair controls – make it a worthwhile experience.

System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 12 MB RAM, DOS / Win95

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