One of the best things about video games is that when you play them you become whoever you want to be. You might be an adventurer looking for hidden jewels, a prince slaying a dragon or a world-famous sports person. For baseball fans, it is just one of the ways that they can step into the shoes of their idols and celebrate home runs, stunning pitches, and run-outs. They can also feel the disappointment of hits missed, bad throws, and losses.
Video games have come an incredibly long way since their inception but, as a baseball fan, you’ll always have a soft spot for the first baseball video game that captured your imagination. Despite the nostalgia associated with these games, few of them were actually any good. So today – while we wait for the start of the 2020-21 MLB season to get underway – we’re going to go through the list of the top baseball video games ever made.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about games with the best graphics or the ones that made the most money for their designers, simply those that were the most fun to play in their day.
7. Baseball Simulator Series (1989-1995)
Culture Brain is behind the development and publishing of the Baseball Simulator Series that enthralled many baseball fans during their childhood and teenage years. Played on NES and SNES the series is one of the most successful of all baseball video games.
Baseball Simulator 1.000 was a great game for the time, although the graphics now look average at best. For its time, the visuals were good and it had the usual behind home plate angle that showed the batter-pitcher interface. But one of the standout reasons why this game was so enjoyable was that it was smooth and almost all the glitches associated with games at the time had been ironed out.
The Ultra League was a step above the Baseball Simulator 1.000 and players had out of this world abilities that could be used at the cost of points. Ninja Pitch and Stopper Ball were some of the pitchers’ special talents, while batters could use a “meteor” or “bomb hit” to get the ball out the park. This is undoubtedly one of the best NES baseball games made and can still be played today.
6.Base Wars (1991)
Base Wars isn’t going to win any awards for graphics or style of play, but it is going to win our award for originality when it comes to baseball video games. Konami developed this game for the NES system. How did it get onto our top 10 list? Simply put, we loved that the players themselves had actually been swapped out with cybernetic robot warriors. Every time that there was a close call, the game would descend into chaos as robots battled each other on the pitch.
5. Triple Play Baseball Series (1997-2003)
The Triple Play Baseball Series was brought to us by EA Sports after the relative success of MLBPA Baseball, and could be played on PlayStation, N64, Game Boy, Xbox and PS2. It was as successful as it could be in that it seemed to always be in the shadow of the World Series or MLB 98-06 series, which was brought out by Sega around the same time.
Despite lower sales numbers, it did very well for EA Sports and was undoubtedly the best baseball game for Playstation in the early 2000s. More importantly, it was the first step in what was to become the wildly popular MVP Baseball series, which we’ll take a look at soon.
4. World Series Baseball Series (1994-2003)
Developed by Blue Sky Software and Hip Games and published by Sega and Hip, World Series Baseball could be played on the Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Xbox, and PS2. What set it apart wasn’t great gameplay, but rather how realistic the games were for that time. Details such as vendors selling food and drink in the stands, realistic stadiums, and audible commentators made this one of the longest-running and most popular series of baseball video games of all time.
In 2003, the World Series Baseball 2K1 was hands down the best baseball game on the market and this turned into the MLB 2K series that we play now.
3. Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (1994)
Developed by Software Creations and published by Nintendo for SNES, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball was the first baseball video game to be released by Nintendo since 1989 when they topped the charts with the original Baseball Stars. Many fans worried they wouldn’t be able to top the original but they hit the nail on the head with this one. It had an MLB license, so was able to use the names, rosters, stadiums and actual statistics of the 1993 MLB season.
This game really stood out as the smoothest of any gameplay in an SNES baseball game and despite not being hyper-realistic, the graphics were outstanding and the scores very similar to that of playing a real opponent.
2.MLB The Show Series (2006-2011)
The MLB Series from SCEA mentioned earlier was very successful during its eight years, but Sony went and upped the ante for the next series released in 2006. We could go on about the amazing graphics and realistic gameplay, but what we loved most was the ability to develop your character and grow through the minor leagues into the majors. Although the 2K series became famous for this character development and game mode, it was The Show series that really gifted it to the baseball video game world.
1. MVP Baseball Series (2003-2005)
Like we said, the Triple Play series by EA Sports did relatively well for its time, however, the MVP Baseball series was the one true baseball series that we knew that EA was capable of developing.
The biggest change when released in 2003, was the simple addition of a pitching meter, which evolved the entire way we played baseball on a console. In 2004 and 2005, EA added a franchise mode that took the MVP Baseball series to new heights and makes it the best baseball video game ever created. Hyper-realistic graphics, franchise names, and amazing gameplay made this series the success that it was. However, in 2005, MLB reached an exclusive licensing agreement for baseball games and just like that, third-party publishers have been kicked to the curb, unable to use team names, players, stadiums or even likenesses of any MLB players.
Betting on the MLB
If you don’t have access to the modern MLB-licensed baseball video games, then worry not! There are many other entertaining ways to be involved in baseball without playing the most recent games.
Sports betting is an engaging and exciting way to become involved in the MLB. Putting money on your favorite team to win will just make it even more intense than you already find the games. The key is finding an online sportsbook for legal online sports betting that will offer you tips and advice on sports betting odds, sports betting lines, who to look out for in the MLB free market and much more. Want to wager on any sport with the best online sportsbook? Join BetMGM today and enjoy some of the world’s best online sports betting.