ESPN Baseball Tonight
|ESPN Baseball Tonight|
Super NES box art
|Developer(s)||Park Place Productions |
|Platform(s)||MS-DOS, Sega CD, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
The game was licensed by MLB, but not by the Players Association, so while actual team names and logos are used, no player names are in the game.
The lead programmers for the project were Alexander Ehrath and Russel Shanks. The game's simulation engine was written from scratch by the two lead programmers. The game featured video clips of Chris Berman and play-by-play audio from Dan Patrick.
Little Caesars Enterprises, Inc. got involved with the development of the game, seeing marketing synergy between baseball fans and pizza eaters. A large promotion was rolled out by the pizza chain to coincide with the game's launch, including point-of-purchase material at 4,500 stores; a mail-in offer for an ESPN "Best of Sports" videotape; and print advertising. The director of marketing for Sony called what Little Caesars received "a new method to reach families and men, 18-34, in a nontraditional, nonintrusive way." The stadium walls in-game featured large Little Caesars advertising.
The PC version was one of the early games to be made available solely on CD-ROM. In addition to the single game, season and playoff modes, there is also a Home Run Derby mode that evaluates the player's final score from ballerina (with a 0% accuracy rate) to hall of famer (with an accuracy rate of 95%-100%) depending on the number of home runs successfully completed.
ESPN Baseball Tonight received mostly negative reviews. Reviewing the Genesis version, GamePro said it "offers great graphics and sound, but it falls way too short in fun. ... If you're a die-hard baseball fan or a beginner, steer clear of this cart. It'll only frustrate you."
In Entertainment Weekly magazine, columnist Bob Strauss said that the design of the PC version was "appealing enough", but that it plunked players down into "shoddiest baseball simulation" he'd seen, with "pixelated generic-looking players; awkward, superfluous voice commentary; digitalized computer-generated and chroma-keyed or CSO technology-wise videos and a static interface that makes live baseball seem like the invasion of Normandy." He strongly preferred HardBall! '95 instead. Other reviews complained of its size. It weighed in at 54 MB on the PC (a very large file for early 1995 – 23 MB of it comprised the video clips of Berman). The Library Journal review simply said, "We strongly recommend a new storage algorithm for this one!"
- Gillen, Marilyn. "Little Caesar's gets in the game." Billboard 29 Jan. 1994: 80-1.
- "ESPN Baseball: It's a Pop-Up". GamePro (60). IDG. July 1994. p. 117.
- Strauss, Bob. "Fields of dreams." Entertainment Weekly 17 Feb. 1995: 62-3.
- LaGuardia, Cheryl, and Michael Blake. "CD-ROM review." Library Journal 120.8 (May 1995): 143.