In the world of video games, the gamers’ perception of games can change over time. What might once be regarded as a great game becomes a faded memory as gaming consoles evolve. Some great games are classics which stand the test of time. Games such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are still going strong today and have many successful sequels.
Sports video games have a tendency to fade as time passes by. A sports game tends to be obsolete as soon as the newest version of a game comes out. In this day and age, everybody wants the newest game for the most up-to-date rosters and rookies.
While sports games generally do fade over time, there are some obvious exceptions, however. One such example is Baseball Stars. Baseball Stars was developed by SNK and released in the U.S. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in July of 1989.
Baseball Stars revolutionized the way sports video games were played. Long before Madden’s season and franchise/dynasty modes, there was Baseball Stars on the NES. In Baseball Stars, you could play a six-team league season with as many as 125 games (25 games apiece against five opponents). If you wanted to play with fewer teams in the league or fewer games in the league, you also had that option.
When starting a season, there were eight teams you could choose from: American Dreams, Ninja Blacksox, Brave Warriors, Japan Robins, World Powers, Ghastly Monsters, Lovely Ladies and SNK Crushers.
Baseball Stars certainly was not gender-biased, as there were elite free agents who were women in the game. The Lovely Ladies team was a team consisting solely of women.
If you did not wish to choose any of these teams as your own, you also had the option of creating your own team. Upon creating your own team, you pick which logo to assign to your team and you name it yourself. You then had the option of picking what type of team you wanted.
A team full of power hitters would have hitters capable of hitting home runs; however, they would be lacking in other abilities. A team with strong pitching would keep you in the games, but your offense would be weak until you improve your players or sign better players.
Baseball Stars gave you the chance to be like George Steinbrenner. You win games to earn more money to be spent in the development of your team. You could use the money to buy ratings upgrades for your players to increase their abilities, or save the money to buy/hire top-tier free agents. In addition to hiring players, you may also fire players and rename players.
Throughout the course of your season, you could track who the league leaders were in particular stats. You could track your players and their AVG, home runs, RBIs, ERA, etc. For a game which came out in 1989, this was an amazing feature for its time! Many sports games did not have season modes yet; furthermore, many sports games did not feature in-game stats, let alone season stats.
Baseball Stars still enjoys immense popularity today. There are websites and online leagues dedicated to this NES classic. Many retro gamers regard it as the greatest baseball video game of all time.
Christopher Wenrich is a fantasy baseball columnist for BaseballDigest.com.