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. Sealyis shortstop (Ozzie Guillén), C. Mullin fills in for (Ellis Burks), and M. Jackson is ceterfielder (Lance Johnson).
- The Cincinnati Reds are writers: B. Stoker stands in for Tom Browning, I. Fleming stands in for Jose Rijo, P. Dick stands in for (Scott Service, and E. Queen fills in for third baseman Chris Sabo.
- The Cleveland Indians have famous actresses and glamour girls on their team: A. Margret fills in for Paul Sorrento, A. Hepburn is catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., M. Monroe is Reggie Jefferson, and G. Garbo is pitcher Jeff Mutis.
- The Colorado Rockies contain famous names from horror movies, including G. Romero who fills in for pitcher Kent Bottenfield, B. Lugosi who fills in for outfielder Alex Cole, and T. Savini fills in for pitcher Bruce Ruffin.
- The Detroit Tigers are famous Motown singers: A. Franklin is (John Doherty), Cab Calloway is first baseman (Cecil Fielder), G. Knight is pitcher (Bill Gullickson) and R. Smokey is outfielder Gary Thurman.
- The Florida Marlins have a unique list of players like R. Harrison filling in for Gary Sheffield H.Lo filling in for Gus Polidor, 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 fills in for pitcher (Todd Jones), W. Eisner fills in for second baseman (Craig Biggio), F.Miller fills in for infielder (Casey Candaele), B.Edlund fills in for pitcher (Pete Harnisch), 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 filmmaker 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), Whitey Ford (Jimmy Key), 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 fills in for pitcher (Steve Cooke), K.Barlow is infielder (Tom Foley) and P.Pearce is outfielder (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), F.Fife (Luis Lopez (infielder), 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 based on famous comedians: H. Moe (Bob Tewksbury), M.Berle (Todd Burns), O. Hardy (famous shortstop Ozzie Smith). Bill Cosby (Gerald Perry) and Buster Keaton (Mark Whiten).
- 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). W.Earp stands in for slugger Jose Canseco.
- 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.
The team rosters are based on the 1993 Baseball season with stats included. The game also features the 5 new logos and uniforms designs of the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, and the Detroit Tigers compared to what they looked like in 1993. The game also features the new ballparks Globe Life Park the home ballpark to the Texas Rangers, and Progressive Field the home ballpark to the Cleveland Indians
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 voices 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. No. 70. IDG. July 1994. p. 116.
- "Review Crew: Ken Griffey Baseball". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 60. Sendai Publishing. July 1994. p. 33.