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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. The imaginary 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 predecessor's, though it is sometimes sluggish due to hardware restrictions. The SNES version came with a promotional Ken Griffey, Jr. collector's card packed inside.
"Imaginary" 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. A pitcher for the team is named G. Park, presumably in reference to Atlanta's famed Grant Park. 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, P. Flamingo, (Mike Mussina) M. Trasho, and H. Spray, as well as Waters himself standing in for Cal Ripken Jr.
- The Boston Red Sox contain members from the show Cheers. Cliff Claven, Norm Peterson, and Sam Malone are all present. Also included are Boston landmarks (B. Common, M. Harvard) and figures from early American history (J. Adams, J. Hancock, A. Hamilton).
- The California Angels have famous actors on their team (F. Astaire, H. Bogart, J. Wayne).
- The Chicago White Sox are former basketball players from St. John's University (M. Sealy, C. Mullin, M. Jackson).
- The Cincinnati Reds are writers (B. Stoker, P. Dick, E. Queen).
- The Cleveland Indians have famous actresses and glamor girls on their team. (A. Margret, A. Hepburn, M. Monroe, G. Garbo).
- The Colorado Rockies contain famous names from horror movies (including G. Romero, B. Lugosi, and T. Savini) .
- The Detroit Tigers are famous Motown singers, (A. Franklin, G. Knight and R. Smokey).
- The Houston Astros are cartoonists (G. Larson, W. Eisner, S. Lee).
- 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 Los Angeles Dodgers are based on punk rock pioneers from Los Angeles and other areas around California including (Exene Cervenka, John Doe and DJ Bonebrake of X, Poison Ivy and Lux Interior of The Cramps, Jello Biafra and Klaus Flouride of the Dead Kennedys, and Lee Ving of Fear).
- The Milwaukee Brewers have a pitching staff consisting of superhero "secret identities" (P. Parker, K. Kent, B. Wayne), while their position players are fictional secret agents and detectives (J. Rockford, J. Bond).
- The Montreal Expos are people from the 1980s music scene in Manchester, England, including members of New Order, The Smiths, and Ian Brown of The Stone Roses.
- The New York Mets are based on punk rock pioneers from New York including (Johnny Thunders, Joey Ramone, Tom Verlaine, Jerry Nolan).
- The Oakland Athletics apparently hired more authors with H. Ernest (he replaces Mark McGwire), L. Byron, M. Twain, and L.Tolstoy.
- 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) and some of the musicians produced by Phil Spector (D. Love, B. Medley), as well as Spector, himself (John Kruk).
- The San Francisco Giants are members of Software Creations, the team that developed the game.
- The San Diego Padres are based on punk rock pioneers from England including (Billy Idol, the members of The Damned, Johnny Rotten, and Sid Vicious).
- The Seattle Mariners have Nintendo of America employees on their team, except Ken Griffey, Jr.
- The St. Louis Cardinals are comedians (H. Moe is actually Bob Tewksbury, O. Hardy is famous shortstop Ozzie Smith).
- The Texas Rangers, appropriately, have a Western theme (their best pitcher, T. Mix, "fills in" for Kevin Brown).
- The Toronto Blue Jays are players from the Wigan Warriors Rugby league team (E. Hanley, M. Offiah, D. Betts).
The only actual baseball player is (obviously) Ken Griffey, Jr., although the New York Yankees have several player names that are references to past Yankee superstars. Griffey's name is hardwired into the programming and 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 many 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 had many features for its time. Each team having its own venue- sometimes complete with unique features. For example, 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 are all present. Due to limitations from cartridge space, some stadiums could not be added- instead, the developers added a generic stadium with green or blue walls. Some of the stadiums were 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.
Each team has its own best and worst player- the best players are dependable and can help to win games; the worst can botch simple plays. Pitching is one of the simplest elements in this game. The best starting pitchers are Jose Rijo of the Cincinnati Reds, Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox, four of the starting pitchers from the Atlanta Braves - John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, and Greg Maddux - and Juan Guzmán of the then world champion Toronto Blue Jays.
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.
Against the CPU, strikeouts are hard to come by, so capable defense is paramount. Like most baseball games, especially of that era, players can exploit omissions in the AI to trick the computer. On certain long hits to the outfield, an outfielder can stand next to the ball, and in some cases merely hold on, and the CPU baserunner will attempt to take another base even though the human-controlled player can easily throw out the runner. Similarly, if the player has runners on first and third, often it is possible to do a double-steal before the pitch is even thrown. First, the runner on first base should start running (hit the X button four times), at which point the pitcher, thinking it's merely a long lead, will throw to first. The first baseman will then throw to second, at which point the runner on third should take off for home. The shortstop will catch the ball, move towards the approaching runner for a moment, and then throw home, by which point the runner should have arrived. The other runner will then reach second base without a problem.
The double steal can also usually be used more simply. When the end of a play results in runners on 1st and 3rd, have the runner at 1st begin running before the play ends. The AI will throw the ball to 2nd, and as soon as the ball is thrown the runner at 3rd should head for home. For some reason, the 2nd baseman will hold on to the ball for an extra second before attempting to throw home. Any player with decent speed should be safe at home.
Another trick that can be played against the CPU is bunting. If you have a player at third, any CPU defensive player will throw home before throwing to first, so long as your runner on third is leading off. This allows you to effectively load the bases any time you have a runner reach third. This leads to another fun maneuver: Once the bases are loaded, if there are less than two outs, the CPU will always throw home, even if they have the opportunity to turn an inning-ending double play.
There are a few players whose races are depicted incorrectly. For instance, Glenallen Hill and Lenny Webster are Caucasian in the game, when they are actually African-American. Ben McDonald and Rob Deer are African-American, when they are actually Caucasian.
Some statistics, such as batters' batting averages and pitchers' ERAs are off as well (usually by a digit). Due to unknown reasons, during a full season some home run totals for players reset to zero.
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- 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.
The game was watered down due to game limitations. The gameplay may be a bit choppy due to the Game Boy's limitations. For example, when the ball is carrying, or when the screen shifts to follow the baseball. Unlike its brother, which was made by Software Creations, this was solely made by Nintendo.
- Ken Griffey, Jr.'s Winning Run
- Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Ken Griffey, Jr.'s Slugfest