With the announcement that R.B.I. Baseball’s video game franchise is making a comeback this season, I decided to compile a list of what I and many around me consider the greatest baseball video games of all time. Obviously, a list like this creates an opportunity for debate.
Many factors play into a person’s opinion of what is considered “great” — for example, Adam enjoys games with better graphics while Brian and Jim favor the more traditional baseball games. I’m sure the fact that everyone I polled was between the ages of 28 and 33, so the answers may sway toward a certain demographic, but at least this age group can honestly say they played baseball video games on every system from NES to current gaming systems.
After a few snowy days in Philadelphia, and multiple group text messages, I was able to compile this list:
10. SportsTalk Baseball — Sega’s baseball game was as real life as you could get when it came out. It had play-by-play commentary and pitchers even had to warm up before they could enter a game. Also, this was one of the first games with the MLBPA license, so a gamer could play with the real life players he/she admired.
9. Base Wars — A very far out interpretation of the game of baseball, this futuristic baseball game was released on NES in 1991. Baseball teams consisted of robots built to pitch, field and hit, and games were played in outer space stadiums. As crazy as it sounds, the game was extremely entertaining.
8. Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball — What kid did not love playing home run derby in Ken Griffey baseball? Griffey was the poster child for baseball and his popularity helped make this SNES game one of the best of all time. You could not play as the actual players, but each team’s player stats and experience matched those of their MLB counterparts.
7. Triple Play Baseball Series — One of EA Sports best sports series was the cornerstone for what would become the MVP Baseball series. It was by far the best baseball video game released for Playstation. Graphics and gameplay were more realistic than other video games at the time, but ultimately the legacy for this series is its offspring.
6. Super Baseball 2020 — Another futuristic baseball game set in the year 2020 — we’re almost there. Much like Base Wars, this game’s players were robots, but a big difference was they could earn power-ups from their performance in the game. This game followed most of baseball’s rules, but the key to it was a home run could only be hit to dead center field, the rest of the outfield was a huge wall.
5. MLB the Show series — The Show had an amazing eight-year run. Career mode was a game changer. You could create a player and guide him all the way from single A to the pros. Graphics, game modes and actual gameplay have the gamer almost believing he is actually watching a game on TV. Who would have thought, that in such a short time, baseball games could get to this level?
4. World Series Baseball — This is the game that changed the game. It allowed players to “be the hitter” with its first person camera angle. The gamer could be in the shoes of baseball’s greats and face some of the game’s best pitchers. In 1994, this was big-time.
3. R.B.I. Baseball — This is one of the kings of sports video games. The graphics were terrible, but it was the first game to ever have the license to use real player names. Many days were spent watching the round figures that barely looked like baseball players on my parents’ television. This game is definitely not one of the best all around games, but its relevance and importance made me place it so high.
2. Baseball Stars — This game was unreal when it was released. You could track your team’s performance and sign free agents. This was the first NES baseball game that allowed you to create a player. Also, each time you won, you could earn money to spend on better players. This is the grandfather of all of today’s franchise-mode games.
1. MVP Baseball — Always considered to be one of the best sports games of all time, MVP Baseball 2005 offered dynasty mode, franchise mode and the infamous “batters eye” that allowed gamers to follow the movement of the pitch out of the pitchers hand. No longer could the batter be beaten by sinkers.
I am sure we missed a few for this list, and it was actually pretty hard breaking it down to just 10 games. Leave comments if we missed any of your favorites. I am sure there are a few.