What makes one vintage season release better than another? There are three criteria:
- Historical Significance of the season
- Quality and Depth of Research
- Availability/Obscurity of the Season for Replay Possibilities
By these criteria, Strat-O-Matic’s release of the 1973 Japanese League Baseball Season was the best vintage season release of 2013.
As far as I know, Strat-O-Matic is the first game company to officially release a baseball set for any Japanese season, though there have been some homebrew rosters and card sets available (Japanese Heroes, anyone?) for Strat and other games for a while. For fans of Yakyu (野球 (やきゅう), the official release of a card set by arguably the biggest of the baseball simulation games was an historic event in itself.
As a season in Japanese Baseball history, 1973 was historically significant in that it was the Yomiuri Tokyo Giants’ last of nine consecutive titles, Sadaharu Oh’s Triple Crown year, and the Central League featured one of the great Japanese League pennant races of all time.
Some purists might argue that this season shouldn’t be eligible for the award because a) it was released as a “computer-only” roster and b) the “cards” were created without the traditional “1000 hours of research” that Strat-O-Matic claims to invest in historical seasons that are released in C&D format.
In response, I’d argue that because the Strat-O-Matic PC game uses the exact same engine as the C&D format, and in fact offers “card images” of the virtual cards, the computer rosters are more-or-less equivalent to a C&D release. I know that all you C&D Only guys will disagree – and I hope you do so vocally! – because you’re left out when gameco’s only release season sets as computer rosters, but it’s the closest we’re going to get for now.
Prior to the announcement of new products to be released in 2013, it was widely anticipated that Strat-O-Matic would be releasing the 1973 Major League Baseball season in their “Super-Advanced” format. As it turns out, that season was withheld from release until (likely) 2014. Since the 1973 Japanese League season was created in a normalized-versus-MLB environment, it will be very interesting to see if any integrated replays show up this year. I’m looking forward to the possibilities.