"Our GM mode is based on Baseball Stars," David Littman told Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy. The NES game, one of the first to incorporate the kind of depth in player management decisions expected in all licensed sports simulations today, was "my favourite sports game of all-time," Littman said.
SNK's Baseball Stars was one of the first NES cartridges that shipped with enough on-board memory to allow players to create and manage teams throughout a season. In the season mode, victories returned money to the general manager, which he could use to level up his players or find better ones.
"I actually designed one of the original GM [modes] , designing the NHL fantasy mode back in 2004, the first one that was in there. Baseball Stars was one of the inspirations," Littman told Puck Daddy. "What I always wanted was a sports RPG [role playing game] , and Baseball Stars was the first real sports RPG."
Another similarity, Baseball Stars had female players and an all-female team. NHL 12 recently revealed it will allow for the creation of female players.
How Japanese baseball video game inspired EA Sports' NHL series [Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy]