When it comes to sports video games, the Madden football series has forever set the standard for what the experience should be like.
Though my favorite sport is baseball and probably will be until my dying day, there is no doubt in my mind that Madden has been the best sports video game franchise of all-time.
Heck, even basketball fans have it good right now, as the last NBA2K game I played...
...really held my interest for some time and I'm not even that much of a basketball fan.
For baseball sims, though, it has been a much more checkered experience, as the baseball experience is probably the hardest of all the major sports to represent on a simulation. My experiences with baseball video games can be broken down into four distinct eras of play:
1. The Early Years
I have been referred to as a "baseball encyclopedia" when it comes to the history of the game, and I credit much of that knowledge to the time spent playing Tony LaRussa Baseball II on my Windows 3.1 PC. What was so cool about that game was that you could endless tinker with stats. This is where I learned about old-time player stats and scoured the Baseball Encyclopedia to find obscure players to populate my "greatest team of all time". My Dad and I created custom teams for ourselves and "all-time" teams for darn near every baseball club.
To be honest, I've probably spent more time playing "Tony 2" then perhaps any other video game in my lifetime. Come to think of it, it probably really isn't even all that close.
Plus, what other game could provide such entertaining moments as this:
(Sadly, this reminds me a bit too much of the Twins outfield at times before the return of Arcia/Hammer).
2. All-Star Baseball 2000
ASB 2000 is the only baseball game that I played an entire season on with one team (Red Sox). I was a NIntendo brand loyalist at the time, so N64 was a big part of my life.
MVP Baseball 2005 was probably the most well-rounded baseball sim I ever played, what with its combination of incredible gameplay and historic rosters. I still have a Gamecube that I play this on every once in awhile. Not the endless options of Tony 2 for the PC, but still (and even to this day) the best gameplay experience I've ever had with a baseball sim.
Sadly, baseball gaming has fallen into a state of almost complete disarray right now. The 2K franchise has run things into the ground. The last playable game from that line came in 2010:
This year, 2K dropped the line completely, so if you have an XBOX 360, you are S.O.L. when it comes to baseball sims. I would really love to try "The Show" for Playstation (as I've heard many people say how great it is), but I'm not nearly an avid enough gamer to plunk down $500+ on a PS 3/4 just for a baseball sim. I am actually really, REALLY hoping that EA buys back into the MLB rights and revives their MVP series.
I hope this list brought back some memories for you. I'd love to hear what some of your favorite baseball gaming experiences were!