Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball
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Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is a Super NES baseball game that was released in 1994. The game has a Major League Baseball license but not a Major League Baseball Players Association license, meaning that the game has real stadiums and real teams, but not real players (except Ken Griffey Jr.). The fictitious players have the same statistics as their real-world counterparts, and the game comes with a name-changing feature that allows players to change the athletes' names. Nintendo released a portable version of the game in 1997 for the Game Boy with real players and stats from the 1996 season. The gameplay is similar to its predecessors, though it is sometimes sluggish due to hardware restrictions. The SNES version came with a promotional Griffey collector's card packed inside and was a major commercial success, with 1.2 million units sold.
Fictitious players in the game are themed with their teammates. Some of the themes include:
- The Atlanta Braves are famous dance DJs, such as Sasha & Digweed (John Smoltz and closer Mike Stanton). A pitcher for the team is named G. Park, presumably in reference to Atlanta's famed Grant Park (Steve Avery). In addition, D. Crime and D. Neon likely refer to Fred "the Crime Dog" McGriff and "Neon" Deion Sanders, respectively.
- The Baltimore Orioles pay tribute to Baltimore native John Waters with B. Divine (Harold Reynolds), P. Flamingo (Mike Mussina), M. Trasho (Mike Pagliarulo), and H. Spray (pitcher Jim Poole), as well as Waters himself standing in for Cal Ripken Jr.
- The Boston Red Sox contain members from the show Cheers. Cliff Claven (Scott Bankhead), Norm Peterson (pitcher Greg Harris), and Sam Malone (closer Jeff Russell) are all present. Also included are Boston landmarks B. Common (Luis Rivera), M. Harvard (Tony Peña) and figures from early American history J. Adams (Billy Hatcher), J. Hancock (Rob Deer), A. Hamilton (Scott Fletcher). S.Heat stands in for flamethrower Roger Clemens.
- The California Angels have famous actors on their team: F. Astaire (Chad Curtis), H. Bogart (Chili Davis), and J. Wayne (J. T. Snow).
- The Chicago Cubs has game director Brian Ullrich standing in for Ryne Sandberg. The bullpen has some seemingly generic names, such as P. Drifter (Jose Guzman), T. Yokel (Frank Castillo), and R. Steel (Dan Plesac).
- The Chicago White Sox are former basketball players from St. John's University: M. Sealy (Ozzie Guillén), C. Mullin (Ellis Burks), and M. Jackson (Lance Johnson).
- The Cincinnati Reds are writers: B. Stoker (Tom Browning), P. Dick (Scott Service), and E. Queen (Chris Sabo).
- The Cleveland Indians have famous actresses and glamour girls on their team: A. Margret (Paul Sorrento), A. Hepburn (Sandy Alomar Jr.), M. Monroe (Reggie Jefferson), and G. Garbo (Jeff Mutis).
- The Colorado Rockies contain famous names from horror movies, including G. Romero (Kent Bottenfield), B. Lugosi (Alex Cole), and T. Savini (Bruce Ruffin).
- The Detroit Tigers are famous Motown singers: A. Franklin (John Doherty), G. Knight (Bill Gullickson) and R. Smokey (Gary Thurman).
- The Florida Marlins have a unique list of players like R. Harrison filling in for Gary Sheffield and L. Vogelman filling in for Jeff Conine. The pitching staff includes S. McDonald standing in for Robb Nen, J. Bafus standing in for Charlie Hough, and G.Valkenar standing in for closer Bryan Harvey.
- The Houston Astros are cartoonists: G. Larson (Todd Jones), W. Eisner (Craig Biggio), and S. Lee (Rick Parker).
- The Kansas City Royals are based on U.S. presidents (the third batter is D. Ike, whose real-life counterpart is DH Hall of Famer George Brett). The pitching staff includes Bill Clinton standing in for Kevin Appier, George H. W. Bush standing in for David Cone, and Ronald Reagan standing in for Hipólito Pichardo.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers are based on punk rock pioneers from Los Angeles and other areas around California including Exene Cervenka (José Offerman), John Doe (Mike Piazza), DJ Bonebrake of X (Brett Butler), Poison Ivy (Mitch Webster) and Lux Interior of The Cramps (Eric Karros), Jello Biafra (Ricky Trlicek), Klaus Flouride of the Dead Kennedys (Pedro Astacio), and Lee Ving of Fear (Orel Hershiser).
- The Milwaukee Brewers have a pitching staff consisting of superhero "secret identities": P. Parker (Cal Eldred), C. Kent (Jaime Navarro), and B. Wayne (Ricky Bones), while their position players are fictional secret agents and detectives: J. Rockford (Pat Listach), J. Bond (Dave Nilsson), and P. Columbo (Dickie Thon).
- The Minnesota Twins are not named for famous sets of twins. The players' names are based on celebrities of various backgrounds, from actor Adam West (Kent Hrbek), guitarist Jimi Hendrix (Dave Winfield) and pitcher W. Herzog (Rick Aguilera).
- The Montreal Expos are people from the 1980s music scene in Manchester, England, including B. Summer (Moisés Alou), and J.Marr (Larry Walker).
- The New York Mets are based on punk rock pioneers from New York City including Johnny Thunders (Eddie Murray), Joey Ramone (Jeff Kent), Tom Verlaine (Bobby Bonilla), and Jerry Nolan (Anthony Young).
- The New York Yankees have the nicknames of famous Yankee greats, such as Bambino (Danny Tartabull), and New York boroughs such as S.Island (Spike Owen).
- The Oakland Athletics apparently hired more authors: H. Ernest (Mark McGwire), L. Byron (Mike Aldrete), H. Thompson (Scott Hemond), M. Twain (Brent Gates), and L. Tolstoy (Dave Henderson).
- The Philadelphia Phillies feature a Rocky homage in R. Balboa (Darren Daulton) and A. Creed (Dave Hollins). They also have a Philadelphia landmark – L. Bell (Ricky Jordan) – and some of the musicians produced by Phil Spector: D. Love (Lenny Dykstra), B. Medley (Wes Chamberlain), as well as Spector himself (John Kruk).
- The Pittsburgh Pirates are named after characters from the soap opera Coronation Street' such example E.Bishop (Steve Cooke), K.Barlow (Tom Foley) and P.Pearce (Lonnie Smith).
- The San Francisco Giants are members of Software Creations, the team that developed the game such example Michael Webb and Richard Kay stand in for (Willie McGee) and (Kirt Manwaring) respectively.
- The San Diego Padres are based on punk rock pioneers from England including B.Idol (Ricky Gutiérrez), D.Vanian (Derek Bell), Johnny Rotten (Jeff Gardner), and Sid Vicious (Archi Cianfrocco).
- The Seattle Mariners have Nintendo of America employees on their team such as J. Tingdale who stands in for Randy Johnson, D.Owsen who stands in for Omar Vizquel, and J.Hurt filling in for Jay Buhner.
- The St. Louis Cardinals are comedians: H. Moe (Bob Tewksbury), O. Hardy (famous shortstop Ozzie Smith).
- The Texas Rangers, appropriately, have a Western theme (their best pitcher, T. Mix, "fills in" for Kevin Brown). S.Jackson stands in for (Nolan Ryan).
- The Toronto Blue Jays are players from the Wigan Warriors Rugby league team: E. Hanley (Darnell Coles), M. Offiah (Danny Cox), D. Betts (Paul Molitor).
The only actual baseball player is Ken Griffey Jr. himself, although the New York Yankees have several player names that are references to past Yankee superstars. Griffey's name is the only one that cannot be changed.
At the end of every game, the game provides box scores and scoring summaries in newspaper format, providing a humorous newspaper headline on other goings-on in the world of Major League Baseball.
The game has several other features, including a home run derby in which players practice their power hitting against either Ken Griffey Jr. or against one of five fictitious power batters (for instance, Griffey's NL analogue is named "Nick Noheart").
The game's other vocal soundbite, that of a batter turning to the umpire and screaming "Oh come on!" after a called strike three was sampled from a Jim Belushi line in the 1985 movie The Man With One Red Shoe.
The game was groundbreaking and had a long list of features for its time. Nearly every team has its own venue, sometimes complete with unique features, including Dodger Stadium's "slants" by the outfield crowd (the outfield "roof"), Shea Stadium's minuscule center field crowd, and the large scoreboard in the right field of Comiskey Park. Due to cartridge space limitations, some stadiums could not be added, and in those cases a generic stadium with green or blue walls is used. Some of the stadiums are particularly realistic; Fenway Park's trademark Green Monster is in the game, as is Joe Robbie Stadium's teal wall and Oriole Park at Camden Yards' trademark Warehouse in right field. The game featured statistics from the real-life 1993 season, and also kept statistics for the team controlled by the user throughout a season, though all of the statistics of CPU-controlled teams remained unchanged.
Pitching is one of the simplest elements in this game. There is also a battery-backed season mode, where players can select a team to play for 26, 78, or all 162 games. Players who finish first in their division earn a playoff berth and a chance to be in the 1993 World Series. Unique to the game was the ability to choose playing a season using a system of either 4 or 6 divisions, as the game was released after the 6 division system was proposed, but before an actual season was played using six divisions.
Due to a bug, during a full season some home run totals for players reset to zero after the All-Star game. A Nintendo Customer Service representative acknowledged this bug, further claimed that sometimes during the World Series players are prevented from using their best pitchers, and bluntly summarized, "Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball sports some pretty serious bugs."
Saved information, such as edited player names or seasons, are known to erase unexpectedly.
Game Boy version
The game was released in 1997 for the Game Boy, with Super Game Boy capabilities. Due to cartridge space, there is only one stadium. Unlike its predecessor, the Game Boy port's players have stats from the 1996 season, but they play in the 1997 season. It also has both a Major League Baseball and a Major League Baseball Players Association license- a first for a Ken Griffey Jr. game on a Nintendo console. The home run derby in this version is also free of the six player limit, so gamers can select any non-pitcher MLB player. 1997 Rookies of the Year Scott Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra debut in this game, along with Deivi Cruz.
Unlike its home console counterpart, which was developed by Software Creations, Nintendo developed the Game Boy version.
Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball received generally mixed reviews. GamePro heavily criticized the game's lack of realism, citing the fictitious players, inaccurate ballparks, inability to adjust defense, "stylized" player sprites, and the ability to control the ball even after it leaves the pitcher's hand. However, they acknowledged the game has good music, "one of the best manuals for a baseball game", and gameplay that is very accessible to beginners. Electronic Gaming Monthly criticized that the computer is too difficult to beat in one-player mode, but praised the digitized voice of Steve Palermo and Jack Buck and the general playability. They scored the game a 6.6 out of 10.
- Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run
- Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr.
- Ken Griffey Jr.'s Slugfest
- "Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (SNES) FAQ," GameFAQs.
- Bevan, Mike (December 2013). "Bubbles, Baseball and Buzz Saws...". Retro Gamer (122). Imagine Publishing. p. 78.
- The Man With One Red Shoe (1985) Orig. Theatrical Trailer
- Ken Griffey Jr Major League Baseball gameplay
- "Buyers Beware". GamePro. IDG (84): 119. September 1995.
- "Griffey Sent to Minors". GamePro (60). IDG. July 1994. p. 116.
- "Review Crew: Ken Griffey Baseball". Electronic Gaming Monthly (60). EGM Media, LLC. July 1994. p. 33.