It’s no secret I adore classic Nintendo. Awhile back, I wrote an article (here) about 10 of my favorite Nintendo games. Today, listmania continues with a subcategory of that post. In honor of baseball season officially arriving, here is my list of the 10 greatest baseball games to ever grace the old NES:
One of the launch titles for the NES in 1985, this game couldn’t be simpler. A feature-less game with a handful of nondescript teams to choose from and no rosters or seasons, but a pretty fun title overall. It hasn’t quite stood the test of time like the others, but this is still a good nostalgic trip.
9. Tecmo Baseball
Everyone knows Tecmo is famous for Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl, (and to some extent, Tecmo World Wrestling), but they made a pretty decent baseball game too. Graphics were above average, aside from the clown shoes the players seemed to wear. The music was a bit annoying but the gameplay itself was decent. This is a fair entry.
8. Major League Baseball
The first NES game to be licensed by MLB and thus feature every team from 1987 was nice to have. Though only jersey numbers, not player names, were present, it could be a little confusing without having an actual roster handy determining who was who. Gameplay wasn’t the greatest, but it was more than serviceable and surely a worthy entry to this list.
7. Little League Baseball
SNK delivers a solid title here. As a little leaguer myself at the time of release, this was a neat game, especially with the featured team from Illinois, my home state. As a kid, it was a pleasant thought to pretend that I was “in” the game. Nothing too fancy here, just a basic, enjoyable game.
6. Baseball Simulator 1,000
Now this game is just a riot. Lots of features, such as season mode, the ability to create players/teams, and of course, the superpowers. Can you imagine a game where the pitcher throws 190mph fastballs? Where the ball explodes when the fielder catches it? What about if the hitter winds up Tazmanian Devil-style before swinging to generate a ton of extra power? Yep, you can do all that and more here. One of the stadiums is even in outer space. Sounds ridiculous, but that was the point of this gem. And it’s a lot of fun to play.
5. Bases Loaded
Good stuff here from Jaleco. Featuring 12 fictional teams & players (we used to pretend they were minor league clubs) this was the first game to have the TV-style viewpoint and the ability to elevate your swing. Another fun twist was that one player on each team could charge the mound and start a brawl when hit by a pitch. Plus, gracing our presence in this game is a character by the name of Paste, arguably the greatest 8-bit pixelated baseball player, ever. A solid game overall.
4. RBI Baseball 3
Tengen comes in at #4 with the first of 3 entries. Following where RBI 2 left off, this game features not only every team and player from the 1990 season, but also every division winner from 1983-1989 for a nice touch. Graphics & gameplay were as smooth as ever. If there was a way to make RBI 2 better, this was it.
3. Baseball Stars
Pure awesomeness here. One of the first NES baseball games with data backup, which allowed you to create entire teams, hire and fire players, and even customize leagues. Hours upon hours were spent winning games and earning money to power up your roster, as everyone wanted to beat the feared American Dreams, a team made up of real-life legends of baseball. (Names were non-definitive as there was no player license for the game.) Gameplay was smooth too, and your outfielders could even climb the fence (and fall over it) to rob home runs. This game kicks ass.
2. RBI Baseball 2
With their second entry in this list, Tengen delivers RBI 2, one of the best baseball sequels ever made. As if having every MLB team and player from ’89 wasn’t enough, the great improvement in graphics, gameplay (you can now jump and dive with your defenders), and even measuring home run distances sure round things off. Oh, and this was also the first game to feature instant replay, which at the time was an amazing thing to behold in a video game.
1. RBI Baseball
It should be no surprise this classic, again from Tengen, comes in at #1. A small & simple game featuring the playoff teams from 1986 plus the 1987 All-Star teams, this one delivers arcade-style fun (the arcade version of this game was tremendous), silly graphics and music, and an overall blast of a game to play. A true classic that is just as fun now as it was nearly 30 years ago.
Honorable Mentions: Legends of the Diamond, Baseball Stars 2, Bases Loaded 2, Bad News Baseball.