(This is a solo column by Chris, the adult writer for the Gab Four. Visit their official Web site and read more about Chris and the other members of the Gab Four at www.MyBriefs.com.)
There is one main determining factor when it comes to ascertaining whether a sports video game is worth playing: whether or not a female will play it.
And since my wife, mother, sister, grandmother, two aunts and a handful of my sister’s Barbies have all taken up my challenge of beating me at “Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball,” I tend to consider the game as legendary as Stonehenge . . . or at least “Pong.”
Regardless, Ken Griffey’s game bears little resemblance to the sport it promotes, thereby making it the best baseball game ever produced. This is also fortunate, seeing as how I used approximately 10 weeks of my allowance to purchase the game in 1994.
After sampling Griffey’s game at Target, to the point where employees had to escort me out of the establishment using cattle prods, I noticed a unique feature for games at that time: I could change the names of the players.
Being used to playing games that had no player names, fake player names or actual player names that became obsolete whenever said players changed teams, I was pulsating with excitement over being able to enjoy electronic merriment for an infinite amount of time.
In addition to updating players’ names however I saw fit, there were real teams in real uniforms, playing in real stadiums that gave off a realistic aroma of decomposing swine. But due to the game making the wise decision of not wanting to be associated with Bud Selig, all of the players (except Griffey) had fake names.
However, the players on the game looked like the players in real life and bore their statistics as well. (I just said “bore.”)
Griffey’s game gave players the opportunity to play a season made up of either 26, 72 or 162 games. And unlike actual baseball games, which could be marketed as natural sleep aids, Griffey’s games only took 20 minutes to complete.
My summer of ’94 was spent waking up around 11 a.m., playing a game, playing a game after lunch and playing a game after supper. I attempted to continue the triple-header schedule when school started, until this was magically discovered by my teachers, who promptly cut off the electricity at my home.
Like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” Griffey’s game was the perfect blend of animation and realism. Players reacted to strikeouts either by breaking their bat, bellowing “Come on, now!” or releasing a shoulder-dropping sigh that gave the impression that counseling was needed. The Oakland Athletics’ red-headed first baseman, whose name I changed to “M.McGwire,” was also the size of Zeus.
My mother’s favorite aspect of the game were the frequent foul balls. Having never had the privilege of being in the direct line of wound horsehide traveling at 80 miles an hour, my mother enjoyed knowing Ken Griffey’s game provided virtual families with virtual souvenir foul balls.
Unlike John Madden’s football games, Griffey’s game had no sequels, except for a 1997 release for Nintendo’s Game Boy. (For those too young to remember the Game Boy, it was invented shortly after the phonograph.)
But with the ability to change the names of 25 players per team, there was no need for updated rosters each year. The only drawback, besides developing grapefruit-sized calluses on my thumbs, was having to become intimately familiar with box scores in the newspaper. Since there was no Internet, I acquainted myself, in an manner that could be described as “whole hog,” with Major League Baseball rosters after my father had finished the sports section.
And after spending nary a fortnight customizing all of the then-28 teams’ rosters, I was able to celebrate by doing the same thing Griffey once did during a game . . . napping.