Nintendo's arcade-style baseball game is finally here.
Developer: Angel Studios
Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr., the Angel Studios developed, Nintendo published baseball title has been a long way coming. In fact, the game has been one of the most anticipated Nintendo 64 titles for years. Surely then, this, without a doubt, is the baseball game to get for the console, right? Well, that all depends on what, exactly, you're looking for in your baseball game. If it's arcade-style and fast-paced baseball action then Griffey is recommended over the competition, which is Acclaim's All-Star Baseball '99. However, if it's a realistic baseball simulation you seek, as we do, then the Iguana developed, Acclaim published ball-game is the way to go. It all comes down to personal preference. That said, let's take a look at Griffey.
Like All-Star, Griffey utilizes a unique pitching/batting system that adds quite a bit to the otherwise simplistic process. The oncoming ball is represented by a blinking cursor that fades in and out of the batter's box. This cursor coincides with the pitcher's heartbeat. Depending on how fatigued a pitcher is, the cursor will be visible or invisible for longer amounts of time. The batter is represented by a round circle that must be aligned with the pitcher's cursor to hit the ball correctly. The problem is that the batter only has a few seconds to see what direction the ball is headed in before it blinks off of the screen and an educated guess must be made. The system enables quite a bit of strategic gameplay for both sides of the ball.
Once the ball is hit a corresponding shadow shows players where it will eventually fall in typical videogame baseball fashion. All of the baseball dives, off-the-wall catches, side-armed throws, toss-outs, tag-downs -- they're all in the game and they all take place extremely fast. The game is entirely offensive though. Once a ball is hit there's a 90% chance that players will end up on first base with no problem at all. It's not at all difficult, in fact, to round-out a double nearly every other hit. A wide in-field gap can easily be penetrated regardless of what fielding configuration players decide upon. No matter which way you look at it, this is a batter's game. Players looking for a realistic, well-balanced offense and defense may find themselves disappointed. But those who would prefer a painless, forgiving hitting system will no doubt love Griffey.
Of course, the game features nearly all the options present in All-Star Baseball, including stat-tracking, player rosters, multiple gameplay modes and so on, but it is lacking the all-valuable create-a-player feature for reasons unknown. Once again, this will only matter to die-hard baseball fanatics.
Sound and character
All in all