Feature Article
What Baseball Games Are Legendary?

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.

MVP Baseball

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.

Member Comments
# 1 bronco4434 @ 03/03/09 09:40 AM
For me two games that are legendary are Bad News Baseball and Baseball Stars. Two games that back in the day were classics and played to death by many kids during the summer!!
# 2 rebelfan10 @ 03/03/09 09:48 AM
Earl Weaver baseball!
# 3 Redlegs @ 03/03/09 09:51 AM
Dusty Diamond Softball, Baseball Stars and the MVP series are my favorites.
# 4 sportyguyfl31 @ 03/03/09 09:53 AM
The High Heat Baseball Series.

Just great stat tracking, and depth. One of my favorite things was to look at the list of retired players. You could see thier year by year career stats, in a baseball card/baseball reference.com type report.

I really liked looking at the career progression of the rookie I brought up from AA at the age of 20, who gradually turned into a multi time 20 game and cy young award winner..on his way to 200 career wins, or the prospect I got in a trade who morphed into a 500 career homer guy..

Those games were total joy for me.

I also loved MVP 2005.
# 5 boomhauertjs @ 03/03/09 09:53 AM
Here's my list:

Baseball Stars (NES)
Baseball Simulator 1.000 (NES)
Tony LaRussa 3 (PC)
High Heat 2002/2003 (PC)
MVP 2005 (Xbox)
# 6 Vermin @ 03/03/09 10:02 AM
MVP 2005 (Xbox)
RBI Baseball (NES)
Tony LaRussa Baseball (PC)
Baseball Mogul (PC)
Major League Baseball (INTV)
# 7 clarkerots @ 03/03/09 10:06 AM
Earl Weaver Baseball because I remember losing hours of my life to that game.

MVP 2005 because the Hitters Eye is a feature that I think should exist in all games. Again, hours lost.

Front Page Sports Baseball 99 because it was the birth of "sliders" with a editable file that governed the physics of the game. Overall it was also a solid title, Front Page Sports (who were way ahead of their time from a Franchise standpoint), and a game that-with a few years to improve itself-would've been the one and only baseball game worth playing.
# 8 joshuar9476 @ 03/03/09 10:07 AM
Baseball Stars ... I still play it today and even spent last summer making a whole new roster to replace the default CPU teams

High Heat 2003 ... the one thing i love about baseball games is the ability to contract teams, reorganize divisions, and do a fantasy draft. HH2k3 did this perfectly. i also spent last summer making a 1915 roster for this game.

MVP 2005 ... one of the best modded baseball games. if it let you play a contracted schedule i'd still be playing to this day.
# 9 johnprestonevans @ 03/03/09 10:08 AM
The strike of 94/95 marked a turning point in my love for Major League Baseball. Before that i was a rabbid fan, enjoying the high-riding Toronto Blue Jays and their World Series ways. Since then baseball has been dogged by increasing imparity and steroid scandals. However, every year around this time that little part of me that used to love the sport returns in the hopes that at least in videogame terms, baseball will rule the summer.
I have loved a lot of great classic baseball games. Here are a few:
Baseball Stars for NES. Why? The ability to create my own players, tweak stats and save highlights to show my friends. This was as good as baseball got before the Major League player liceince was established.
Bottom of the Ninth in the arcade. Why? It was the first baseball game to really show some presentation. Seeing my fielders runing in one window and in closeup in another just blew my mind. I love the homerun animation.
Hardball! for the PC. Why? The camera angles were plentiful. Now i could see a game as it appeared on TV - with that behind-the-pitcher view. From then on i would not play a baseball game from the batter view again. Also i loved being able to create my own teams and design their logos and uni's.
Tommy Lasorda Baseball for the Genesis. I bought this game even before I had the system. While the game doesnt hold up well today, back then I was obsessed with the topdown fielding view and "zoom" of the ball. The players started looking more human when batting. This game came out at the hight of my baseball love and i think thats why it is still a favorite.
Tripple Play 98 for the PS1. Polygons. I loved them and i hated them. Finally baseball was in full 3D space, however crude it looked and i spent hours listening to the announces talk generically about the action.
High Heat Baseball 2004. This game did a lot of things right. The cameras were great and the gameplay was solid as far as i can remember.
MVP 2005. The end of an era of great baseball games in my opinion. With stellar grahics for the time, and excellent controls there was no better representation of America's pastime.

My eyes have been re-opened thanks to MLB 09 The Show and MLB 2K9. Both look to be solid games this year.
# 10 SBartlett @ 03/03/09 10:22 AM
= ) Yeah all those games are classics. i couldn't incorporate all of them otherwise the article would've been 10 pages lol. i liked tony larussa back in the day and world series baseball 95. i also played high heat 02/03 once and remember it was nice.
# 11 hq3000 @ 03/03/09 10:41 AM
A game that i remember to be legendary just for the sheer amount of games I played was Tony Larussa Baseball. I just remember keeping track of my stats on hundreds of pages of paper. It was ridiculous how big of a nerd I was back then. Still am because I wouldn't be constantly daydreaming of the Show 09.

I also like to remember a little known beast of a player only known as Gerald Williams. His stats for his season with the Yanks was really low but for some reason he could hit 60 HR's a season. HIm and Kevin Maas were like Mantle and Maris of the videogame circuit. Go figure.
# 12 cinders @ 03/03/09 10:41 AM
Bad News Baseball...I can remember, it was one of the only games my dad liked to play with me (that and NES Open golf!)
The other for me would have to be World Series Baseball on the genesis...I used to play it on my game gear and it was the first portable sports game that I remember being great.
# 13 Chizzypoof @ 03/03/09 10:53 AM
Bases Loaded
This was my legendary series. It was the first baseball game I played that had a behind the pitcher view. Plus the packed lineup of the J team had a heart of the order that had legendary players Becker, Paste and Bay.Finally, this was the game I was playing in '89 when the Earthquake hit San Francisco. There is no better way to place a game into legendary status than to have a natural disaster make it a lasting memory.
# 14 techhokies @ 03/03/09 10:56 AM
Maybe not legendary like some of the other games mentioned, but the first game that got me into running a franchise in baseball games was World series baseball 2k3.
# 15 mwjr @ 03/03/09 11:18 AM
World Series baseball for the Genesis. That game just took the genre and set a new tone. I had an SNES at the time, but my brother had a Genesis and this game. I tried and tried to find a comparable baseball game for the SNES but could never find one. I ended up trading in my SNES for a Genesis at a local pawn shop and couldn't quit playing.

IIRC, it was one of the first (if not THE first) baseball games with the real-time bullpen.

Man, what a great game that was.
# 16 rodperezto @ 03/03/09 11:27 AM
Just this morning I wrote a very long post in a forum about my experience with baseball games. I spoke of everything from MLB from Intellivision to MLB 08, which was the one that brought me back to loving baseball games again. Read here: http://www.mlbtheshow.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=244

@hq3000 Dude, you are like my soulmate. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing Tony LaRussa Baseball and going through all the stats. Also, i remember loving Gerald Williams who did have 12 points in speed and 12 in power (the max if i remember correctly).
# 17 WazzuRC @ 03/03/09 11:30 AM
Some of my all-time favorites:

MVP 2005
World Series Baseball '95 and '98
Bases Loaded III
Hardball '95 (the ability to edit EVERYTHING)
# 18 sportyguyfl31 @ 03/03/09 12:13 PM
Originally Posted by WazzuRC
Some of my all-time favorites:

MVP 2005
World Series Baseball '95 and '98
Bases Loaded III
Hardball '95 (the ability to edit EVERYTHING)
Wow, Hardball '95, thats one I forgot entirely...thats a real blast from the past.

Anyone remember the Front Page Sports Baseball series?

Wonderful Franchise Mode, and physics for its time.

I would still play that game.
# 19 Chizzypoof @ 03/03/09 12:18 PM
Originally Posted by rodperezto
Just this morning I wrote a very long post in a forum about my experience with baseball games. I spoke of everything from MLB from Intellivision to MLB 08, which was the one that brought me back to loving baseball games again. Read here: http://www.mlbtheshow.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=244

@hq3000 Dude, you are like my soulmate. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing Tony LaRussa Baseball and going through all the stats. Also, i remember loving Gerald Williams who did have 12 points in speed and 12 in power (the max if i remember correctly).
Intellivision Baseball.. ahh. When I was pitching, I always pressed "5" immediately after the batter made contact. The pitcher could stop everything from going to SS or 2nd.
# 20 Chip1010 @ 03/03/09 12:35 PM
Can't argue with the MVP and Griffey games. I also loved the High Heat series. And while Bases Loaded wasn't anything special, it was the first baseball game I ever owned as a child, so it has a special spot in my heart.

I'm buying my first MLB The Show game this afternoon. Hopefully I can add that to my list of legendary games.

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