As an avid video game connoisseur and diehard baseball fan, it can be tough to find something in the modern age that blends both with the sweet harmony of fun and hardball.
Sure, we gamers have MLB The Show, which is a fantastic baseball sim in it’s own right and definitely the only MLB licensed game that matters *@RBIBaseball, nobody likes you*
The Show has paved the way for not only baseball games, but sports games in general. Also, with the expansion to Xbox this past year it’s popularity has only skyrocketed as you can cop the game for free if you’re subscribed to Xbox Game Pass *show me that ad money Microsoft*
But even with the beautiful details, smooth gameplay, and awesome inclusion of a card based mode that influences children to gamble money on imaginary trading cards, guys like me are left wanting more. More fun, more over the top gameplay, more……… fire and chaos……
“Fire and chaos Scoop? In a baseball game? How is that even a thought?”
Well ladies, let me take you back to the year 20-03, and introduce you to what in my opinion was by far the greatest stickball game known to man. *cue the music*
THIS IS THE WAY I NEED IT TO BE
What a RUSH of early 00’s testosterone that video brings me. Six to midnight ladies & germs. Six to MF MIDNIGHT. Thank you to this totally irrelevant band led by some Goldberg doppelganger for the most electric intro in baseball history.
Midway, the creator of the popular NBA Jam and NFL Blitz series BLESSED us with the most absurd and fun style of baseball we will ever see in our lifetimes. Turbo hits and pitches, players being set ablaze, players getting absolutely drilled and passing out, *pause*, cheat codes that could turn Raul Mondesi into the real life Minotaur with a mace for a bat he always wished he could be, and of course what in my opinion was the greatest video game input of all time, a PUNCH/KICK BUTTON.
You could literally be out by 45 feet and still have a shot if you managed to absolutely punk Miguel Cairo trying to tag you and send him flying like the penguin he was.
Pitchers had a button that specifically targeted a batter in the head, torso, or legs, and one of three outcomes would occur.
- The batter turns into Tony LaRussa on a traffic stop and just straight up faceplants in the dirt, with a reduction in attributes based on where he got hit.
- The batter gets FIRED UP *literally* and charges the mound to beat the living hell out of the pitcher Alcantara style leading to his stats boosting and the pitcher crawling on the mound begging for the trainer to fix his mistake that he just made that turned him into Jamie Moyer.
- *my favorite outcome because Sean absolutely abused the bean button* The fired up batter goes to square up, and the BATTER is left weak and crawling to first base while the pitcher is set ablaze dancing on the mound like Ali.
Batters would hit absolute no doubt MISSILES that would literally leave behind a vapor trail and the defense laying on the ground crying their eyes out. *once again, literally*. Then proceed to round the bases a la Jack Parkman doing his best Hulkster impression between second and third base pumping the crowd up.
Fielders would make superhuman diving catches and gun people on the bases with the flick of the wrist. This game literally had everything that makes the BBWA choke on their dentures. Best of all…
THEY ACTUALLY HAD BARRY BONDS IN THE GAME AND NOT SOME GUY NAMED DOWD OR STOCKER AND HE HAD A POWER ATTRIBUTE THAT LEGIT EXCEEDED THE LIMIT OF 10.
Anything and everything sinful about baseball was on full display and exaggerated to the fullest extent.
They went on to make a few more Slugfest games with updated rosters and little features added, until they finally gave in to the Bleacher Karens and discontinued the franchise in 2006. However no game they made ever captured the greatness that was 20-03. (20-04 was literally the same game but added a homerun derby with strikable clown dwarves in the place of the children that chase fly balls irl, blue fire and Jimmy Edmonds on the cover). So many hours just virtually beating the hell out of each other on the diamond, so many broken controllers, and most importantly, so much fun.
To this day, MLB Slugfest is still the most fun I ever had playing a baseball game that wasn’t made by Humongous Entertainment (BYB blog coming soon 👀). So pure, so audacious, just unadulterated HEAT.
Safe to say that in this day and age, we will never see a game like this released again. Sure there’s Super Mega Baseball which is like a PG rated version of Slugfest with no commentary or real players, but it just doesn’t come close to the magic that was Slugfest. Bleacher Karens would never allow it. Manfred will never allow it. MLB The Show will never allow a baseball game to coexist with their monopoly of microtransactions and pretty graphics.
Thankfully, if you want to step up to the plate and relive the mystique and aura of Slugfest so you can rip some dingers with Jon Van Der Wal, or start a rematch between Clemens and Piazza, you can download pretty much any PS2 or Gamecube emulator and take your trip down the most violent lane my memory has to offer.