clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Starting Nine: Best Baseball Video Games

From Tengen and Tecmo to 2k and EA, we've played 'em all. These are the best.

From my early life until this very moment (and so far all the moments hence) I have played video games. It's mostly my dad's fault, though he probably doesn't think so. But considering that he has achieved a perfect score on Galaga on more than one occasion, the first Nintendo he bought was decidedly not for his children, and that on any given evening he continues to click his way through one game or another, I think it's fair to say that he is responsible for what I have become.

Obviously, among those nascent pixels were sports games. And among those sports games were baseball games. Here is the best of them:

9. Baseball Stars 2

The original SNK game on Nintendo was absurdly complex given the time, with roster editing and stat keeping being a part of the core gameplay. By contrast, the Neo-Geo arcade release was all glitz with a frenetic, almost steroidal attitude about the game (an attitude which looks prescient through the lens of history).

8. 2020 Super Baseball

The spiritual successor to our #4 pick, 2020 Super Baseball also includes robots (though decidedly less fighting) and even strikes a blow for gender equality by including a team of all women, though such egalitarianism is mitigated somewhat by the fact that they are all blondes wearing short shorts.

7. Wii Sports Baseball

It's a silly game, with zero depth of gameplay, automated fielding that violates the basic rules of baseball, and legless players who are far too convivial considering how hard they are being dunked on.

But, it also includes a roster made up of the Mii's of all your friends and family, swing-motion controls and pitching, and an entry level of gameplay that allows everyone to join in. It's silly, but the good kind of silly.

6. Triple Play 1999

The end of the 90s was controlled by Electronic Arts, who was starting to emerge as the leader in sports game franchises. Though they still faced competition from 989 Sports across multiple platforms, the Triple Play series emerged as the stronger of the two releases, though that wouldn't last.

5. MLB 2001

Some of the moments were absurd (Jose Lima throwing 102mph, for instance), but the overall polish of the game and the inclusion of Vin Scully as the play-by-play announcer gave 989 Sports the edge moving into the 21st century.

4. Cyber Stadium Series™ BaseWars

It's a difficult thing to make a game that feels like baseball while simultaneously including fighting robots that fire baseballs from arm turrets while hovering around the base paths. BaseWars accomplished such a feat.

3.  RBI Baseball 3

The pinnacle of 8-bit baseball, including multiple teams for each franchise from different years. It also had instant replay! And as simplistic as it may sound, your defenders could jump and dive to rob hits. It was a big deal 25 years ago.

2.  MLB The Show

Maybe we're giving it too much credit for being the only baseball franchise still around, but the truth is The Show has consistently delivered a quality product over the last half-decade. Even when the MLB2k franchise was still around, pissing everyone off with buggy gameplay and ludicrous game mechanics, The Show was still a superior product.

1.  MVP Baseball 2005

EA Sports' last venture into Major League Baseball was (and in many circles, still is) considered to be the best baseball experience to have released. Its intricate franchise mode could theoretically extend for 120 seasons, involving setting prices on concessions, building/upgrading a new stadium, and managing three levels of the minor leagues in addition to the major league roster. It also happened to have a pretty decent soundtrack.