Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run (SNES)

Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run SNES The game's title screen, featuring You-Know-Who.


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Written by  :  Condemned (76)
Written on  :  Mar 15, 2008
Rating  :  3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

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Mid-90's arcade fun

The Good

The gameplay is very fun, especially back in the day (1996) when the game came out. The buttons are pretty straight-forward, and are fairly easy to pick up once you understand the button mapping. Certain buttons enable your fielder to throw regular (somewhat slow, but accurate) or hard (a little more wild) depending on the button you choose. For batters, hitting down on the control pad increases the likelihood of hitting a pop fly, whereas the up button makes a groundball more likely. By the same token, hitting left or right on the control pad will either make your hitter pull the ball or swing to the opposite field, depending on if they're right-handed or left.

The animations are very smooth, especially for a SNES game. The movements are fluid and look realistic, albeit in cartoon-like form.

There is no announcing, which is probably a blessing, as many sports games become tired when the commentary becomes repetitive, boring, or just plain inaccurate. Sounds of the ballpark instead fill the silence during gameplay, from crowd murmurs and cheers to organ music to vendors shouting "Peanuts!", "Popcorn!", and "Hot Dogs!". The umpires call out "Strike 1", "Ball", "Safe!", etc. In fact, the way the vendor calls out "Peanuts!" actually sounds like "Penis!", which is absolutely hilarious if you're a 14-year old boy, which I was when I first bought the game.

The Bad

There's definitely signs of this being a primitive sports game, right about the time the SNES was on its last legs and the next generation platforms like PlayStation and N64 were on the horizons. The gameplay is very arcadey and not realistic, so that detracts for those who prefer accuracy and simulation-type games. Small things such as having to sift through menu after menu to change your lineup EVERY game, otherwise it'll just put the default team out there for you in the default order. There is no "Create a Player" feature or editing of players or team info, something more modern games could not do without.

Given that they didn't have an agreement with the Player's Association (I'm assuming), Ken Griffey Jr is the only real player in the league. Everyone else is given a fictitious name, usually cartoon-ish or overt such as "Bolt Lightning" (Randy Johnson), "Jose Crushito" (Jose Canseco), or "Big Magoo" (Frank Thomas). This may or may not be a big deal to anyone, sometimes fictitious players are better because it becomes more about fantasy than realism anyway.

Trades are capped, you can only make a certain amount throughout your season (15?)...after that, your personal "trading deadline" has been reached and your roster is set. Trading is also handicapped so that it's very difficult to stock your team with top-tier talent, a fluctuating rating system is employed giving each player a "trade value" number. If they perform well, their rating goes up, and likewise it goes down if they have an 0-4 game or something. You can trade for any player as long as they're within 5 rating points of the player you're trading. You can get around this a bit by playing a few games first, jacking up a few of your players' ratings, and then trading them for All-Stars who may have had a few rough games and have reduced value.

It's also noteworthy that the position someone plays in the field is irrelevant, you can trade your C for a RF and suddenly your new player is a default C, and it has no affect on the game. Other than putting someone slow in CF or a weak arm at SS, there's no consequence in the gameplay, which is very unrealistic.

Pitching is very limited, each pitcher comes with a 4 pitch repertoire (Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, and Special Pitch). The Special Pitch varies from pitcher to pitcher, and they only get 1. These consist of Knuckleball, Slider, Super Curve, Super Change, Super Fast, Screwball, etc. It's very tough to get many strikeouts, unless you're a Knuckleball pitcher, as the CPU generally makes contact thrown strikes and will rarely if ever swing at a ball, even just a hair off the plate.

Baserunning is also confusing at times, as in most baseball games. You think you're sending one runner to the next base, and you end up sending them all to the next base and running into Double or Triple Plays. As well, stealing is basically impossible, even with the fastest player stealing 2nd off of a Super Change pitcher, they're going to be caught stealing in almost all cases.

The Bottom Line

It's still very fun, if for nothing else but nostalgia purposes, and to see how far baseball titles and sports games in general have come. I recently pulled it out and played again for the first time in a long time, and actually got about 15 games into a season before it got boring again! Still, it's fun to reflect and re-play those games that meant a lot to you from your childhood.