Nintendo Nostalgic: ‘Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run’ Is Still a Home Run Hit
Fans of the old ball game need no reminder that Ken Griffey Jr. is just as much of a legend as he is a great dude. He snagged home runs like Florida men snag stuffed animals, overcame entire walls to make catches, and got a Hall of Fame approval vote so high, we still think he should have run for president after all. But if there is to be one crowning achievement among all of his accolades, then surely getting his name on the best baseball game of the 16-bit age has to be it. Which one, you ask? Ken Griffey Jr’s Winning Run for the Super Nintendo, of course! Join us in this Nintendo Nostalgic as we pay homage to the undisputed king of the video game diamond.
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The main reason that we remember Winning Run so fondly is that simply put, it’s fantastic. As soon as you stuck that cartridge in your SNES and booted it up, the whole experience was just nine innings of baseball perfection. The controls were easy to pick up. The timing required to get a good hit on a pitch was both fair and felt just right. And the stadium SFX, complete with organ music, felt so real, like you were in the crowd yourself (sans the getting drunk and yelling abusively at anyone in range -- or at Clayton Kershaw if you’re a Dodgers fan).
It all added up to a virtual baseball experience so good, you couldn’t step up to the plate just once.
Home Run Derbies
No classic baseball game is complete without the winner-takes-all game mode that is the home run derby. Who needs a whole nine-inning game anyway? When it comes to humiliating an older sibling, time is of the essence.
All you needed was a bat, some easy pitches, and a nice big stadium to knock them out of. And Winning Run gave you all of that -- making it the perfect game to kick back with a few friends over.
Awesomely Weird Player Names
The mid-'90s were still a time when the bigwigs of the major sports leagues didn’t quite understand video games and were most likely blaming them for every ill in society. Thus, getting full licensing for every major league player into your game was a pretty tall order. Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run didn’t even bother with the task. Save for Junior himself being in the game, every other player's name is purely fictional, which would suck if these names weren’t just awesome in their own right.
Sluggo Steel. Muscles McFee. Bolt Lightning. Scorch McFadden. Not only are these perfect names for the porn industry, but they’re also names that’ll win you a pennant race -- at least in this game.
And About That Pennant Race
While we’re on the subject, it must be said: Winning Run’s main season mode was every bit a captivating grind as the real thing.
You could play an entire 162-game season, complete with all the player streaks, slumps, and stats you could ever ask for. And even if the real players are missing, every single team of the 1996 MLB season is licensed, and revisiting them all is a serious kick in the nostalgia. Remember the Montreal Expos? Ha, of course you don’t. Even Montreal tries to forget.