Review by JakeFirst24
Probably the best baseball game yet created...
There are a lot of great baseball games on the market today. The 2K series is about as realistic as you can get at the moment. To be completely truthful, Ken Griffey Presents Major League Baseball is not a very realistic game. But it is a lot more fun to play than even the 2K series, and this game for the forgotten SNES is 14 years old! It is just plain fun, and that's what any game should strive to be.
Ken Griffey Presents Major League Baseball is a simple game. The pitching/batting interface is about as simple as you can get. There is not much variety on how you can pitch. The ball moves downward on the screen towards the batter, and the player can control the initial speed of the ball, with the faster the ball moves, the less movement the player can put on the ball. What makes the pitching scheme even more simple is that there is no horizontal and vertical axis to make the pitches. Every pitch is belt high, and it cannot be changed. You are basically just putting the ball over the plate or completely away from it and hoping your opponent will guess wrong.
Batters can move around the batters box so that they can reach slow moving balls that can be curled away from them. On the plus side, the game does a very good job of hit detection and direction. The ball will be hit onto the field in the direction that it came off of the bat. This seems like a basic gameplay element, but back in 1994, for the batting interface to feel so smooth was a pretty cool accomplishment. It actually allows you to maneuver your batter in the box and swing early to pull balls or purposely swing late to push balls to the opposite field. It just feels smooth and easy to use.
This game didn't have a player's license, so the real life players aren't named in the game. They players attributes and stats (their abilities are essentially based on their hitting stats; the defensive attribute controls how fast a player moves in the field as well as throwing speed) are all in the game, but each player is incorrectly named. The game designers put a lot of thought into the names for some of the players, though. One team has nothing but US Presidents for the players on its team. Another has movie actors. Of course, you can rename any player that you want. It is a tedious task that requires a bit of time to accomplish. But once it is done, you are ready to go.
Believe it or not, the best part of the gameplay is the fielding. There is no other game in baseball history that fields as well as this game does. The players glide around the baseball diamond effortlessly, so it is easy to make diving catches or wall catches. You will be amazed at how easy it is to field like a pro. Every game designer of baseball titles should look to this game to figure out how to make their fielding schemes feel the most realistic and easy to use. I doubt it will ever be matched.
The game boasts a few modes of play to keep things interesting. There is a regular season that you can play (and modify the number of games per season). After each game, you will see a newspaper with a headline that talks about your game. It won't have an entire article about it; just the headline. It's still cool to see. The newspaper also shows the standings, of which you can choose from the pre-1994 model (which is only two divisions per league, instead of the 3 divisions per league like we have now), or you can choose the "new" 3 division season to play in. It is probably the last baseball game that was created that gave you this option.
You can play in an all-star game at any field. The all-star rosters are pre-set. You can swap out anyone in the line-up, but you must use players that appeared in the 1993 all-star game. That's always been fine by me.
There is also a homerun derby, which most games didn't have at the time of this game's release. With the simple batting interface, the homerun derby can be pretty exciting. You basically choose a powerhouse, a middle ability guy, or a weakling to bat as, and go up against a single opponent. Still, as simple and basic as it sounds, it is pretty fun to play.
Finally, you can choose to play a World Series playoff against another team. You will still get your newspaper headlines after every game.
Depending on how you look at it, the time since the game's release date can be good or bad. You cannot alter the teams outside of renaming the players. You cannot trade anyone or change their attributes. That means that you are stuck with the players of that time. On one side of the coin, that can be fun; you can play during a different time period of baseball history, and playing against older players can be a blast. However, it is difficult to rename players to an updated roster (ie, rename the players so they match the players that are on the teams right now). However, you do have some amount of latitude as to how you want to play it.
-- Bottom Line --
Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is probably the best baseball game ever created. It is about as simple as it can get, so while it lacks a little bit in realism, it just ends up being fun to play. The fielding in the game is absolutely the best of any baseball game I have ever played. It is a bit tedious and time consuming to rename all of the players on every team, but it can be done. There aren't a boatload of playing options available, but being able to play in the pre-1994 divisional models is pretty cool and something that you cannot really do anymore. The game does feel a bit arcade-like when it comes down to it, but it is still a blast to play. Even at 14 years old, this game has aged extremely well and is a worthy addition to your game library.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (US, 03/31/94)
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