Game Review – Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run

The second and final of the Ken Griffey Jr. games to be released on the SNES, Ken Griffey Jr.’s Winning Run was also the first of the four games to use computer generated 3D graphics. The game was actually developed by a British company called Rare in 1995, but due to the distinct lack of a baseball market in Britain it was never released there. Like it’s predecessor, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, it has the licence to contain all 28 MLB teams of the time but without an endorsement from the MLB Players’ Association the only player they could include in the game was Ken Griffey Jr. himself.
‘Winning Run’ is actually the name of a play, made by Griffey, in the closing moments of the 1995 American Division Series, the Seattle Mariners against the New York Yankees. Hitting to the left field for an easy run which would have tied the game, he instead decided to go for home all the way from first. He succeeded in beating the throw to to the plate, winning the game for the Mariners and allowing them to advance to the American League Championship Series.

Winning Run is one of the first games ever to use computer generated 3D graphics, and when you consider that for a moment it really is astounding how good the game looks. Rendered in full 32-bit color, the game really pushed the SNES to the peak of it’s performing power. The player models are nothing to marvel at, but the scenery certainly is. Tremendous detail has been put into the stadiums, with most of them featuring working scoreboards, and even the clouds move along the skyline in the outdoor arenas. The sound quality is also remarkable. Vendors can occasionally be heard in the stands shouting ‘Peanuts!’ or ‘Popcorn!’ and the fans even jeer insults at you if you play badly. The sound effects all sound authentic, from the *thwack* of bat connecting with ball to the *phumph* of the ball landing on grass.

Thanks to the SNES controller you have a much larger degree of control than with games in the past, both when playing in offence or defence. Despite this, the controls are never too confusing and a few innings into your first game you should have already mastered most of them. The sheer amount of gameplay you get for your money, though, is this game’s main appeal. With 5 different game modes including a Home-run Derby (pretty fitting when you consider that Griffey is one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time!) and a 162 game Season Mode. Basically, the game will continue to entertain you for years, if you let it. That said, it’s appeal to non-baseball fans will only be marginal. All else aside, though. It is easily one of the greatest sports games released for the SNES, and just scrapes full marks from me with a 9/10.