So yesterday (or Friday if you’re a nerd and pre-ordered like me) the latest version of MLB The Show dropped for Playstation 4. It’s something that I look forward to every year and have been looking forward to since the games were totally different titles. It doesn’t matter what the franchise has been that was dominating the market on baseball video games, I’ve always bought my copy on the first day it was available. Even at now (almost) 24, I’m still excited about it.
I definitely play way less video games than I used to and now my interest is very limited. The games I get hyped up about are Madden and MLB The Show. For some reason though, baseball games have always been the best and the funnest to play. I wanted to run through the best ones of all time and tell you a little bit about why I liked each one. Here we go…
Major League Baseball 2K7
I’ll start off with MLB 2K7 because it was the worst of the best. A lot of people out there wouldn’t think of this one as one of the best baseball video games ever, but I loved it for a few reasons. It was the first game I ever had for what you would call a “next-gen console” when I got a PS3. I remember how excited I was to have the latest and greatest system, which I got for my birthday, and this was the game I got with it. I set it all up on the big screen tv in my living room and I just remember thinking how awesome it all looked. The graphics were insane at the time and it was so realistic that I felt like it could never get any better (hilarious, I know).
The other night I was talking to my buddy about some of the great baseball games we played as kids and we discussed the usuals before remembering 2K7. We both agreed it was a pretty awesome game and then pulled up the soundtrack on Youtube. It still bangs. Though 2K sports fell off the cliff with baseball games shortly after and stopped making them completely, I’ll always remember this one fondly. Josh Beckett vs the Yankees in New York was the go-to move for a ton of fun.
Triple Play Baseball
Triple Play Baseball was a fun video game series back in the days of the original Playstation. For some reason, I remember specifically loving the one with Jason Giambi on the cover in his Oakland A’s uniform. I believe this was the game for the 2001 season, but I’m unsure because Google also brings up “Triple Play 2001” with Mike Piazza gracing the cover. Anyway, I was pretty young at this point but I remember having a lot of fun with this game in Homerun Derby mode. It also had another great baseball soundtrack.
Backyard Baseball was a staple of everyone’s childhood it seems. It wasn’t the most sophisticated game or the most fun but everyone played and therefore you loved it. Almost every one of my friends had it at one point or another and we’d spend hours playing with Pablo Sanchez, Kenny Kawaguchi, Dmitri Petrovich, Pete Wheeler and the rest of the gang. Obviously this game had football, basketball and other sports in the series but baseball always felt like the one that got the most run among my friends.
Any of the Ken Griffey Jr. titled games
The Griffey games all came out in the 90’s when I was too young to be playing and enjoying them. We had an old school Super Nintendo and my brothers had all of the games. I wasn’t old enough to fully appreciate them yet, but that didn’t stop me from finding them once I did get to the point where I could partake though. I remember my brother teaching me about baseball and some of the great players while I watched him play and eventually I took a stab at getting on the sticks to jack homers. This was my introduction to video games and really sports as a whole. (I think other titles like All Star Baseball and such were involved but the Griffey ones stuck out to me)
Really any of the slugfest games apply but I believe “Slugfest Loaded” was the king. Any time you can get a game that breaks the rules a little bit, that’s a ton of fun. In Slugfest you could hit opposing players, charge the mound and have cool power ups to use at bat or as the pitcher. It wasn’t a serious baseball game at all and that’s what made a ton of people enjoy it. The amount of frustration you got from being punched off of base by your opponent was infuriating, but the laughs you had when you were the one doing the punching were just as fantastic.
Don’t get me wrong, The Bigs games were fun. They were outrageous, arcade style games with power ups and it kind of seemed like an attempt to knockoff Slugfest. However, there was no punching or fighting which took away the best part of Slugfest. So in a way this game kind of sucked. But it still makes the cut over others because I played it and had fun.
MVP NCAA Baseball ’06
I say ’06 specifically because I didn’t play the other version. Anyway, college sports video games are always fantastic. It’s really a shame that they’ve done away with all of them. NCAA Baseball was made by the same people who made MVP and that right there made it awesome. The ability to play with metal bats, totally different teams and stadiums, a great soundtrack and a whole new dynamic made this game a great one.
MVP Baseball ’05
Everyone in the world knows that this game is the GOAT. It really, really was. As a Red Sox fan, it was even more amazing because it came after the team had just broken the curse and won a World Series, so the whole game was kind of centered around that. The cover star was Manny Ramirez, the gameplay was second to none and the soundtrack was the best for any game ever. I played this probably more than anything I’ve ever played. My only gripe with it is that it’s so good that it overshadows MVP Baseball ’04 which was also pretty great. I’m honestly tempted to go buy a PS2 and this game just to get back at it with Dontrelle Willis on the hill.
MLB The Show
MLB The Show has pretty much perfected everything. No, it is not the GOAT because the nostalgia will always leave that title to MVP, but The Show is probably better all things considered. The series has been running since ’06 and it’s just gotten better and better. The graphics and gameplay are amazing, the presentation is beautiful and realistic and I’ll never not love the “Guess Pitch” feature. I just hate that it’s only for PS4 because all of my Xbox friends can’t have it. They have some dumbass RBI Baseball franchise that no one plays and that’s it. We need competition. We need MVP back. Please EA Sports, do it for all of us.