KEN GRIFFEY JR.'S WINNING RUN / Nintendo / SNES
The two banes of my enjoyment of baseball games are batting and fielding. I can't stand those games where the batting scheme is all complicated, with having to move a box around in addition to timing a swing right, for example. And I can't stand games that don't utilize auto-fielding. Balls just fly out into parts of the playfield that you can't see too fast to respond to realistically a lot of the time.
I like the Ken Griffey Jr. games because they basically play like an early NES baseball game, keeping everything as simple as possible, but eliminating most of the janky problems that plagued 8-bit ballgames and adding top-notch graphics and Moar Features. This particular one is the second on the SNES and looks about as good as an SNES game can. Rare's plasticy pre-rendered 3D actually works to positive effect here to make the players look well-animated and articulated, and the pitcher-batter view actually gives you a full view of the stadium in the background, all of which are based on their real-life counterparts. Despite the advanced graphics batting is still as simple as can be, as is pitching, and you get the option of turning on auto-fielding or not.
The game offers up 25, 52 or full 162 game seasons in addition to exhibition matches and a Home Run Derby. There's a MLB license, but that only gives you the team names, uniforms and stadiums. The only real-life player found here is Ken Griffey Jr., the rest are just made-up figures like Bolt Lightning and Stud Slammer. No changing player names or rolling your own, unfortunately.
The only two serious problems I have with the game are the sound and the trade mode in season play. The music that plays during the title and menu is just some really god-awful techno, and the sound effects in-game are really repetitive and annoying ("Cheddapuff!") This is definitely one to play with the sound turned off. The problem with trading is that you can only make one-for-one trades, each player has a numerical rating assigned to them a la Madden, and the computer won't allow you to trade a lower-ranked player for a higher-ranked one. They don't appear to get better or worse or more or less valuable over the course of a season, so basically there's almost nothing you can do to improve a crap team. My favorite team is the Pirates, perhaps the most crap of them all in this particular game, and the pitching is so bad and the batters hit so poorly it's virtually impossible to play as them until you become some kind of guru with years of experience. Of course, I can't rank the game down because my team has sucked for 15 years, but it is something to be aware of, and a looser trade mode or fantasy mode (or even a character editor) would have remedied the situation for those of us with basement-dwelling favorites.
I've not played enough of it to encounter this, but I hear from the Internets that the game is prone to glitch stats over the course of a 162-game season and totally screw your shiz up by nuking you back to 0 in certain categories. They also included some hidden teams, most of which are accessible, but apparently you were supposed to be able to play as a special "Nintendo 64 team" and the programmers forgot to implement the ability to unlock them. So for over a decade now people have been driving themselves crazy trying to figure out how to unlock them, the programmers came on the GameFAQs message boards and claimed that they "forgot" how it was done, but my money's on them just forgetting to even enable it in the first place and not wanting to own up to it. Anyway, pretty good quality baseball game overall if you can deal with the particular limitations.
* Gameplay Video