Best of 2014- A History of Player-Licensed/Sponsored Video Games

This was originally a piece of a “Wisdom and Links” article at Hall of Very Good. Thanks to Shawn Anderson for giving me permission to put it up here.

Let me tell you of a time. A time before the sports video game-scape was homogenized and turned into a few companies putting out slightly different versions of the same game every year. In this wonderful time, lasting from the late 80s to around the turn of our century, there were countless baseball games. And they were often branded to a certain player. This wasn’t just baseball, of course- to this day you can find John Madden’s last name on Electronic Arts’ NFL franchise- but for baseball, it seemed to have it’s own special charm. Maybe it was the fact that many of them didn’t have any real players other than the sponsor, or maybe it was just because I was of the age where, to paraphrase the “The Lego Movie”…“everything was awesome”. Or maybe it’s just because baseball was and is my favorite sport and thus I am biased.

Still, let us travel back to that wonderful time and look at some of the greatest player-or-manager sponsored games in history.


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Stuff I found in Storage: Sammy Sosa’s Softball Slam

This is something that could just as easily be a Bizarre Baseball Culture. It’s the Sammy Sosa-starring slow-pitch softball, uhm… “classic”:  Sammy Sosa Softball Slam.

SammySosaSlamSammySosaSlam2I would have reinstalled this game to do a review, but I decided not to… because I can remember how much it sucked. I have played many horrible games in my day: I flew through freaking hoops in Superman 64 (how can you make a Superman game where the main activity is FLYING THROUGH FREAKING HOOPS!?!?!), I played a horrible Pokemon knock-off masquerading as an adaptation of Animorphs, I think I even played ET The Extraterrestrial for the Atari 2600 once in a museum somewhere.

Sammy Sosa Softball Slam is in that category of horrible. It was, for one thing, hilariously bad an idea. Let’s make a softball game… BUT WITH SAMMY SOSA! Even admitting this was the year 2000, I have to think some type of hallucinogens were involved for such a bizarre idea to happen.

The game itself wasn’t that much better. It was easy no matter what mode you were doing, the players involved (with the exception of Sammy himself) were ridiculously nondescript (compare this to the colorful cast of the great Backyard Baseball series), the graphics were bad even for their day, the announcer was annoying (he’d call Sammy “the man, the myth, the legend” basically every other time he came to the plate) and, oh, right, it was still a softball game starring Sammy Sosa. By the way, I remember that Sammy’s statistics were maxed out in the game, and that there was also a button on the player editing screen that would allow you to transform any player into Sammy Sosa- even if the player was a woman! Yes, with just the tap of a button, you could change anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender, into Sammy Sosa circa-2000… to play slow-pitch softball.

Think about the horrible implications of that.

Yeah, scary.

Oh, and this was the “thrilling” opening to the game. Although this is from the Playstation version and not the PC version, I seem to recall it being very similar: