Whack! Pow! Smack! Video games give you the chance to be the stars you grow-up adoring. If you wanna be Patrick Mahomes on a football field, just buy the latest version of Madden and fire it up. If you wanna be Spiderman, you can be Spiderman! It’s a fun way to fully immerse yourself in your dream or fantasy. However, given the complexity and 3-dimensional nature of the game of baseball, translating fluid gameplay to a video game can be challenging. Unlike sports such as soccer, football, and basketball, baseball has never indeed found a video game franchise that can appease all of its’ consumers.
That being said, when a baseball game is done right, it can remain relevant for decades after release. Let’s take a look at the 5 greatest baseball video games of all-time.
MVP Baseball 2005
Released over 15 years ago, MVP Baseball might still have the best baseball gameplay of any video game to date. A simple pitch recognition system allowed hitting to feel natural, while all of the controls made for a very fluid playing experience. Add in an intricate Owner Mode to start from the ground-up and the ability to argue calls with umpires, and it’s no wonder people are still talking about EA’s most incredible baseball creation.
There’s even still a group of players that are so dedicated to MVP Baseball 05 that they will update the rosters each year to keep the game relevant. It’s a terrific rendition of baseball, and if you haven’t ever gotten a chance to play it, check it out sometime.
Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball (SNES)
What a legendary game. Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball for the Super Nintendo was the quintessential baseball video game. Highlighted by cartoonish images, the game itself played very intuitively. Pitching was simplified to a 2-dimensional plane where the user would determine both speed and movement. Hitting mirrored pitching in that you just had to time your swing and square-up the location. All of the game’s best players were represented with realistic attributes to give it the feel of a real-life game. It wasn’t perfect, and the camera angles made outfield defense rather “eventful,” but it was fun every time you fired it up.
Atari brought RBI Baseball to the public back in 1987. Originally released as an arcade machine, RBI Baseball was the first game to hold a licensing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association. It did not, however, have a deal with the MLB. As a result, notable players throughout history appeared on teams simply referred to by their cities. They weren’t the Chicago Cubs, but instead just Chicago. Nonetheless, RBI Baseball laid the groundwork for future baseball games with their intuitive gameplay and simple controls. Apart from licensing and improved graphics, RBI Baseball and Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball both play very similarly.
Out of the Park Baseball
Ever wonder what it’s like to be the GM of a baseball team? Out of the Park Baseball allows players to realize that fantasy. This in-depth simulation game doesn’t allow for ANY gameplay. Instead, you are tasked to create a roster of players to compete for a World Series. You’ll juggle trade offers, player development, and roster construction while avoiding pesky injuries and player emotions. Baseball nerds around the world agree, Out of the Park Baseball is a ‘must play.’
Originally released to be played on the computer, the Backyard Baseball series was brilliant. Sure there were some limitations, but Humongous Entertainment’s recreation of real-life “backyard baseball” was exceptional. Pablo Sanchez, Backyard All-Star, might rival Bo Jackson as the most outstanding athlete to ever walk the Earth. And you haven’t seen fast until you’ve watched the great Pete Wheeler turn a bunt into an inside-the-park home run. They have since released newer versions of the Backyard franchise, but nothing has ever topped their original creation.
Notable Mentions: MLB The Show, MLB Slugfest, Triple Play Baseball, Mario Superstar Baseball
MLB The Show has been the lone, mainstream baseball franchise for a while now but hopefully we'll see an influx of new options as some of the new game systems begin to release. The main theme of the best baseball video games released comes down to a fine combination of both simplicity and complexity. If we left any of your favorite titles off this list, please let us know because we're always looking to add to the collection!