The Nature of the Slurve

marioball.jpg

Some times, you just gotta have fun.  For a few days now I’ve been contemplating writing a post about my favorite baseball video games of all time.  If you’re a baseball fan and you grew up in the 90s, like I did, its almost inevitable that you sought your offseason baseball fix via baseball videogames.  Baseball videogames, which have been notoriously difficult to make, have been around since the dawn of gaming.  This list with be comprised mostly of the games that brought me through my childhood and up to my adult years.  This is in no way a comprehensive list as it will include my personal list of positive baseball experiences.  Do, however, feel free to argue, comment and reminisce along with me. 

Baseball – NES 1985
nes_baseball1.jpgI can’t believe that I’m forced to confess something so early on in this entry.  Before I receive flack for this, let me make it clear – Baseball Stars was the quintessential baseball experience on the NES.  In fact, some of my friends (Shout out to Bondo) still play it today.  Unfortunately, I never experienced Baseball Stars until just recently.  Instead, I cut my teeth on Baseball – which was released with the NES console as a launch game.  It was awful, but it was my first foray into video ball and accordingly deserves mention. 

Ken Griffey Presents: Major League Baseball – SNES(1993)
kengriffey.gifJust in time for the 1994 baseball strike a game that I consider one of the foundations of my youth was released for the SNES.  What was wrong with this game?  Bizarre pitching mechanics, invisible foul line wall, faulty save batteries and most importantly the player’s names!  Without a liscence the game creators were forced to assign fictional names to sprites that resembled, with remarkable detail, their Major League counterparts.  The names, which were assigned to each team via a theme, were hilarious AND replaceable.  If you were one of those kids who spent hours replacing the names of the players with their real Major League titles, please raise your hands up!  Now chastise yourself for so many waster hours.  This was an excellent game to play with a buddy and its overall gameplay quality kept many kids hitched for years.  It wasn’t until 1997, in fact, that I found a game that could even come close to Griffey on the shelf that exists in my heart.

All Star Baseball ’99 – N64 (1998)

Larry.jpg  I’m going to gloss over a series of awful games that we had to tolerate during the 16 Bit era and I’m even going to forget about the Triple Play Series, that I never really go into, and introduce you to first 3D game that really caught my eye: ASB99.  Forget the fact that the series fell apart in subsequent years – in 1998, just in time for Big Mac and Sammy, ASB was the best looking game with the slickest controls.  My favorite part?  Going over to Cleveland and bringing up a gigantic minor league slugger with inifinite swat (Sexson).  We played this game, a lot. It featured pretty good comentary, for its time, and a neat take on the swinging mechanic that influenced many games that would come. 

MVP ’04/05 – All consoles
mvp05.gifAmongst the greatest crimes in the history of the world occured on the day that video gamers were told that the MVP, without an MLB liscence, would cease production.  The 2009 season approaches and this is still the most played baseball videogame around (if you’re a PC owner its easy to pick up modded versions with roster updates).  Its deep, has responsive controls, fantastic pitching and hitting mechanisms, a minor league system and is just a lot of fun to play.  I tolerated a lot of garbage before MVP and I’ve tolerated a lot of garbage since and I will not rest until EA is allowed to ressurect this franchise as a Major League Baseball masterpiece.  Damn you SEGA Sports. 

MLB Power Pros – Wii – 2007
mlbpowerpros2008.jpgSomething had to pacify me.  MLB Power Pros does a good job.  A port of the system upon which popular Japanese games have been made for a long time, Power Pros features accessible controls, good physics, and the deepest statistical tracking I’ve seen in a game.  Get over the cartoony nature, unless you can pick up the show this is your only choice as a baseball gamer. 

(All non-opinion based information was taken from the wonderful fellows at www.ign.com)

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5 comments

  1. joefromnewhampshire

    I think MVP 05 is the greatest GAME ever. Obviously my opinion though. I was also very disappointed when they discontinued it. I have to deal with 2k8 now, and although it is great to look at, it is very flawed and I began despising it up until the day I traded it in for another headset.

    http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com/

  2. Byrne

    I realized the special place in videogame history that MVP ’05 holds yesterday. Talking about writing this post in class (I’m doing a masters in Toronto), my professor informed me about the existing mods available for the game online – shout out to the prof, you know who you are! – How many video games can be so special as to rouse the excitement of a serious academic? Not many, I’d say – the only question left is – how many seasons have YOU played? (for me, seven)

    DB

  3. welikeroywelikeroy

    I loved the franchise mode in MVP, but I bought MLB “The Show” this year and it was really fun I thought. Especially if you got into the online play, and ‘the road to the show’ feature. I’d say that it beats MVP, but I was also sad when EA lost the liscencing wars on baseball. Too bad they had to start it all, with Madden the year prior.

    I’d have to agree with you that Griffey’s was one of the best. I got that for Christmas when I was 12! I did a review of MLB ‘the Show’ and other baseball games of the past, a couple months ago. The link, if you are interested:
    http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/05/video_game_review_mlb_the_show.html

    I want to check that MLB power pros game. You got me interested! Nice post again.

  4. thegoodofthegame

    Ah, this takes me back.
    I always had dreams of being a baseball player. It always seemed to be the only sport that I could be successful at being on the smaller variety (5’8″ 160). Baseball video games gave me the chance to make that dream a reality. Sure, I’d make myself a 6’2″ 190lb slugger but it’s called creative license.
    I agree that games always seemed flawed, even until the newest 2K8 game that I just finished playing a few minutes ago. I was there for the Ken Griffey Jr. Presents, and the Triple Play 2000, MVP 2005 and a couple other thrown in there.
    Flawed as they may be, they still let me look at baseball when it’s -2 outside. Plus, the newer ones are fun as a way to run a franchise. I’m still trying to get the Phillies to hire me.

    http://thegoodofthegame.mlblogs.com

  5. joefromnewhampshire

    One more thing that I hate about the 2K series is that way too many strikes are thrown. I tried adjusting the sliders, but it makes it all messed up. I just want to be able to work walks, darnit! 🙂 This may not matter to some, but I want to have it be as realistic as possible.

    http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com/

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