Many years ago, NBA Jam provided a new, exciting way to play basketball. Now, it’s been discovered that baseball got a similar treatment with Power-Up Baseball, a game that’s been lost — until now.
You’ve probably never heard of Power-Up Baseball before today. That’s no surprise — it was briefly released in Chicago arcades before being ultimately pulled and never sold to the public in any fashion. Now, however, the Video Game History Foundation has uncovered a working version of the game.
Here’s your first look at Power-Up Baseball since the game was first released all the way back in 1996!
Power-Up Baseball Was a Lot Like NBA Jam
Power-Up Baseball was being created by Midway Games, the same company that created NBA Jam. This unreleased game had a lot of thematic similarities: player characters created through photo-capture technology, exaggerated gameplay, and intense action.
What’s particularly interesting here is that the game was uncovered amongst the works of the late programmer Chris Oberth. Back in 2020, the VGHF managed to compile a lost Days of Thunder game that was programmed by Oberth; it was discovered amongst his many possessions after his death.
Typically, the data in Oberth’s possession only included the work that he did for a particular project. This was a slightly different case — for some reason, Oberth had the game’s source code, art assets, and compiled ROMs. That was used to make a playable version of the game.
The release of this game has some caveats, though. To start, the initial release was tested with a small selection of 14 arcade cabinets. That means that you’d need the MAME arcade emulator to actually play it. The game itself has not yet been properly set up, either, so you’d have to compile it yourself to play it.
There’s also the sad fact that this game was never actually finished. A basic version was tested in arcades, but Midway ultimately decided not to produce the final product after it performed poorly in arcades. One of the key reasons was due to the slower overall pace of baseball — players would spend more time playing the game for the cost of one or two quarters, and that meant that the arcade machine wasn’t as profitable as others.
The Video Game History Foundation is currently seeking any other missing pieces of Power-Up Baseball and other projects; you can read more about the organization and explore its findings in detail at gamehistory.org.
Would you have wanted to buy Power-Up Baseball for a home console in the mid-90s? What other sports do you think should have gotten the “NBA Jam” treatment? Let us know in the comments below!