10 Best Baseball Video Games Ever
With the World Series teams set, and the Fall Classic just a short way away, we thought it’d be the perfect time to discuss the ten best baseball video games of all time. From the ancient 8-bit era to modern consoles with graphics so sharp, you’d swear you were watching the real thing, few sports titles bring up fond memories the way baseball video games do.
The crack of the bat. The snap of leather as a heater hits the catcher’s mitt. The exhilaration of watching the ball clear the fence. Those are the moments you remember most, and these are the best baseball video games that brought them to you.
10. RBI Baseball (NES)
One of the OG baseball video games to make the cut, RBI Baseball may not have had the best graphics or animations, but it did have something every baseball fan wanted: the MLB Players Association license. Even though there were only eight teams in the game, RBI Baseball allowed us to step into the shoes of our favorite pros for nine innings. Moreover, the in-game players performed just like in real life. While it may not hold up under today’s tough standards, RBI Baseball was revolutionary and one of the best baseball video games in its time.
9. Out of the Park Baseball (PC, Mac, Linux)
A pure simulation game, Out of the Park Baseball is one of the most impressive, realistic, and deep baseball video games. There isn’t a whole lot to look at outside of statistics, spreadsheets, and analysis, but OOTP is a sabermatrician’s dream. Full rosters for every MLB team, including all the respective Minor League affiliates, mean there’s no shortage of real world talent to build your franchise around. OOTP even includes historic players, and custom leagues and drafts for you finagle to your heart’s content, making it one of the most underappreciated baseball video games today.
8. Base Wars (NES)
Easily the most out there interpretation of baseball we’ve ever seen, Base Wars pit teams of robots against each other for nine innings in outerspace stadiums. What’s more, those robots were armed with special equipment to make them better baserunners, pitchers, hitters, or even combatants. You see, in Base Wars, if there was a close play at any base, the fielder and runner would duke it out for the rights to the out, or to be safe. Many buttons were mashed during Base Wars’ heyday, as tricking your opponent into a pickle was all part of the fun. Why we haven’t seen a modern take on this seminal classic is beyond us, but we’d welcome a Base Wars revival with open arms.
7. MLB: The Show (PS3)
With insanely detailed graphics, phenomenal physics, and constant online support, Sony’s MLB: The Show franchise continues to improve the living room baseball star experience every year. Sure the commentary can get a little grating at times, but the overall experience of playing in your home team’s park, and knowing that each and every crevice has been recreated as faithfully as the opening day MLB roster more than makes up for that small annoyance. The pitching, hitting, and fielding are all top notch, and the depth of the game’s franchise mode is impressive. It took a long time for video games to make it this far, and judging by The Show, things are only going to get better.
6. Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball (SNES)
One of the penultimate console baseball games, Ken Griffey Jr Baseball still holds a special place in many fans’ hearts. Ken Griffey Jr Baseball looked good, played great, and had a home run derby mode. It may not have had the MLBPA license, but the players in the game were rated appropriately to the real-world counterparts, and you could easily change the names of every player in the game to match the real life player. What else were you going to do after you finished your homework? You had to have the right rosters in place for the sleepover tournament you were planning that weekend.
5. Sports Talk Baseball (GEN)
The Sega Genesis’ Sports Talk Baseball wasn’t the greatest baseball game to ever grace the console, but it was the first game to offer play-by-play commentary. That, and the MLBPA license, combined to give Genesis owners one of the most true-to-life sports game experiences at the time. Pitchers had to be warmed up before entering a game, and stamina increased and decreased with time off between appearances. Players also had some rudimentary charting displaying what kind of hitter, baserunner, and fielder they would be.
4. MVP 06: NCAA Baseball (Multiple)
After EA lost the bidding war for the rights to the MLB’s video game license (it was snapped up by 2K), the publisher turned its eye to the NCAA landscape. Following in the footsteps of arguably the best baseball video game of all time, MVP 06 had big shoes to fill, and none of the names or teams to do it. The crazy thing is, MVP 06 was great. Even though players may not have known the rosters of the team they were playing as (unless they went to school there), MVP 06 improved ever so slightly on MVP Baseball 2005′s engine, and provided one robust and highly enjoyable gameplay experience.
3. World Series Baseball (GEN)
One of the best baseball games to grace the 16-bit generation, what World Series Baseball lacked in presentation it made up for in spades with commentary, statistics, the MLBPA license, real stadiums, and the ever important catcher view. There was little aside from slight tweaks and roster improvements to separate any of the WSB titles that graced the Genesis and 32X, but the games didn’t need any major improvements. Steady, complete, and the closest simulation game at the time, WSB will always be remembered fondly.
2. Baseball Stars (NES)
Baseball Stars may not have had real players or teams, but that didn’t stop it from being one of the elite baseball games of that generation. One of the first sports titles to offer players the ability to save their franchise, Baseball Stars not only tracked stats for all teams throughout the season, but it also allowed you to sign and release free agents. Even more impressively, Baseball Stars allowed you to create both your own player and teams to play with for the long haul. Winning also earned you money to improve your team, which was unheard of at the time.
1. MVP Baseball 2005 (Multiple)
There is little debate among the die-hard crowd that the crowning achievement in baseball video games was MVP Baseball 2005. Franchise mode. Dynasty mode. Fantasy drafts. Remarkable presentation, animations, and graphics. Intuitive on-field play. A soundtrack that still resonates with anyone that played the game. Many nights, days, and weekends were lost to MVP Baseball 2005, and for good reason. And that’s not even counting the PC version, which EA allowed players to mod. That community is still going strong today, and you can still find longtime fans getting together on the virtual diamond for another nine innings. As great as MLB: The Show has become, that franchise owes its success and backbone to this game.
Those are our picks. What are yours? Let us know what baseball video game you enjoyed the most in the comments below.