It just seems fittingly appropriate to look back in time on a day when every sports gamer is ready to dig into the 2009 baseball titles. After all, baseball video games have come a long way over the years.
There are now high-definition games with dynamic lighting, text-sims with incredibly deep franchise modes and even motion-controlled games complete with waggling. Games like MLB 09: The Show on the Playstation 3 have metric stats, formulas,and algorithms to calculate pitch counts, hitter tendencies, pitcher abilities and dynamic situations.
With all the realism found in these beautifully designed sports games, dare we ask the veteran sports gamers if today’s games compare to the level of fun the sports games of the past presented?
As educated members of the sports video-gaming community, we should always remember to look to the past greats that laid the foundation for the realism of today. Ah yes, the legends.
So what constitutes a legend? It probably varies for each person. But as a community of sports fans and gamers, our wants and needs are usually mutual. While it is hard to express in words how a great game achieves its intended level of entertainment and fun, every individual knows when a game has become legendary to him or her. For example, perhaps when a game’s replay value is seemingly infinite, you then consider it a legend. Or perhaps a game becomes a legend when it wins the battle against updated hardware and breakthrough technology.
Whatever the parameters are, the point is that every gamer thinks of some baseball game as legendary. And so, the point of this article is not to write about every sports game that I consider legendary, but more for all of you to take a moment to look back and think about what baseball games are legendary to you, and for what reasons -- and hopefully you will share those reasons with the community.
Of course, though, I will get the discussion going.
Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr.
To me, the Ken Griffey Jr. baseball games on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo 64 serve up some of the most hall-of-fame worthy features in any baseball titles to date. Why? Griffey keeps the fundamentals simple just like an all-pro should.
Griffey’s game on the SNES is fast-paced and the action is nonstop. Pitchers throw110 mph, and the batters are clearly the pioneers of the steroid era. Home runs that are smashed out of the stadium travel over 500 feet, which only adds to the arcade elements many baseball fans enjoy. Fast-paced games that are not time-consuming have proven to be fun many times over. Wii Sports baseball is a recent testimonial of that fact.
Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. on the Nintendo 64 has some of the best gameplay elements in any baseball title in the history of the genre. The pitching and hitting interface is an engaging and interactive approach to the game of baseball. Your batter’s skill level is represented by the size of the dotted circle on a scale from one to 10. Each batter has five batting stats, and the pitchers have five pitching stats.
The pitcher’s pitch speeds, movement and stamina determine his skill level. In addition, the movement of the off-speed junk pitches can be controlled while on the way to the plate. So not only does the batter have to match the batting cursor to the ball to get some good wood on it, but the user must also predict the speed variance and the angle the pitch may move when heading towards the plate.
Users can go opposite field, up the middle or pull pitches, it all depends on how they measure up the bat on the ball. Batters must go with the pitch and hit to all fields to find success –- a great feat of realism for an outdated gaming console.
The other great feature in this game is the flight dynamics and physics of the actual baseball. When the ball is hit in the air, the camera travels above and behind the ball, which gives you a dramatic sense of how high the baseball is really traveling. The game even shows the seams on the ball from this angle. The balls fade and slice through the air depending on who hit the ball and from what side of the plate the ball was struck.
Home runs are a joy to hit because of this ball-flight camera, and the sheer crack of the bat as pure contact is made. It is a pure and crisp sound that you rarely hear in today’s baseball games, which is then followed by the sound of the ball cutting through the atmosphere.
I also think EA's MVP series is legendary because the Hitter’s Eye presents a unique challenge to anyone cranking up the pitch speed and difficulty to the highest settings. The realism of the arm angles in MVP is unmatched -- cutters from side-arm slingers will eat batters up for breakfast. If you are to stand a chance, the Hitter’s Eye is your only friend: The ball changes colors based on the type of pitch coming towards the plate. This color swap allows you to identify fastball, a pitch with movement or an off-speed pitch (red, green or yellow respectively).
These features may be small to some, but they are main reasons why I consider those two series to be legendary. I play Griffey to this day with my sister and she still beats me with the Mariners. To this day, it is still a fun challenge every time the ball is being delivered to the plate.
But back to the original point, what baseball games do you consider to be legendary and why? Relive those happy memories in text form and share your thoughts with the whole community.