Been a while since a new feature, hasn't it?

I thought we were due for a change this summer, so I bring you Arcade Roulette. As the name suggests, every so often we will look at one arcade game I’ve never heard of in my trusty arcade cabinet, then I'll play it and offer some thoughts.

Starting with...


If I were to sum up this game with a gif, it would be this one.

Independently, I know what all these words mean. Put together, it sure seemed like word salad. But nope, it’s completely comprehensible when you see it in action. They’re ninjas, they play baseball. They use bats. And I guess they’re arguably men?

Please enjoy this quote from Ninja Baseball Bat Man’s wikipedia article.

Drew's concept came up after he read the top-grossing films during its time in a USA Today newspaper. One was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; the other was one of the Batman films (possibly Batman Returns).

After selecting one of the four available Ninja Bat Men, you set off on a journey through the wilds of... America, I guess, to recover stolen artifacts from the Baseball hall of fame.

One of the benefits of having an arcade cabinet with a bunch of nonsense in it is we can actually swap back and forth between the NA and JP versions. For the most part, I didn’t notice too many differences, but there is a minor change in our heroes' names.

Here’s Jose Conseco...

...Ryne Sandberg...

...Roger Clemens...

...and Darryl Strawberry.

You’re thinking what I’m thinking, right? That is was insane to name the blue guy after Darryl Strawberry when a red Bat Man is right there?

Anyway, over in the Japanese version, everything is mostly the same, except the character's last names are simply their colors. Jose Red, Ryno Green, Roger Yellow, and Darryl Blue.

As you’ve probably surmised so far, this is a classic arcade beat ‘em up. Players move left to right smacking the crap out of sentient baseballs, cleats, catcher’s mitts. Things get real weird once you reach the bosses, where you fight a plane... on a plane?

There’s a few notable alterations to the usual beat ‘em up formula. Characters have fighting game style inputs to do unique moves, which, in my opinion, makes some of our Ninja Baseball guys way better than the others. As a Mike Haggar fan I usually like my big grappling monsters, but here? Sorry big guy. You got nothin’ on the twin bat lightning spam.

As Beat ‘Em Ups go, Ninja Baseball Bat Man is an enjoyable success. There’s a wide variety of locales, an assortment of enemies, and flashy visuals.

In terms of thematic consistency, however, it’s an absolute mess. The baseball theming is there until suddenly it’s not, and you’re in a haunted house, a casino, an airport. Who the hell knows. I guess there was not enough baseball paraphernalia to go around, because the sentient baseball accessories occasionally fall away to make room for stuff like this giant lotto machine.

Is it fun without quarters?

Sort of! There’s a problem I’ve come to notice with many an old arcade game — the challenge used to lie in how far you could get with a limited amount of quarters. On a free-to-play machine, the challenge vanishes. Ninja Baseball Bat Man succeeds mostly for not outstaying its welcome. The whole game moves at a breezy pace and the variety keeps it engaging. Things always seem to change up right as it begins to get stale.

Can’t say I see much reason to come back to this one after a playthrough, however, short of showing someone else the depths of this madness.

Any sections designed to drain money?

Surprisingly, no... at least, not until the end.

Once you arrive at the final level (a great big baseball diamond which I suspect is Yankee Stadium, which would make sense considering the final boss is a sentient Babe Ruth statue) every boss shows up again in rapid succession.

A common beat ‘em up quarter burning strat. The mandatory Boss Rush.

How many players?

Like many coin-ops, up to 4 people can be Ninja Bat Men at any time.


Ninja Baseball Bat Man takes approximately an hour to clear. For a coin-op, the perfect amount of time. Nobody wants to be in the lobby of a Pizza Hut for three hours.

Final Verdict

Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a delight. A dumb, visually pleasing romp from one American locale to the next. Does it actually care about Baseball? Sort of. It certainly didn't care enough about it to be an actual baseball game, mind you, but it did borrow the names of four famous players, and references Babe Ruth. So there's that.

We're giving it a seven. An above average brawler experience, but not quite impressive enough to call it a diamond in the rough or a forgotten gem.

For a coin-op brawler, you could do a lot worse... and we probably will, next time on Arcade Roulette.