Can you have a great sports title without the pro teams? If this question was asked in the early years of gaming the answer would be yes and games like R.B.I. Baseball and Tecmo Bowl come to mind. Although looking at things these days usually produces a different answer, so it’s rare to see a non licensed sports game let alone a fun to play one. Super Mega Baseball’s is up at bat and there’s already a full count, which way does it go?
As implied, Super Mega Baseball skips the official licensing for a more animated and lighthearted take to the sport. Stylized cartoon men and women play for silly sounding teams, like my favorite the Beewolves. The players have silly names and each player has his or her own stats that can improve over time. If it’s not obvious by now, the game is a more Arcade take on Baseball rather than the simulation aspect of games like MLB The Show.
With the arcadey feel, Metalhead Software has been able to take some of the frustration out of things like batting. You don’t have to move the bat around and aim if you don’t want to; the bat will always line up with the ball. You can choose to do a Contact (regular) swing, a power swing that requires a little more timing to hit but yields greater hits, or psyche out your opponents with a bunt. The game boils down the batting to something that feels at home on classics such as the aforementioned R.B.I Baseball on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This, in my eye, is very welcomed; batting has become fun again. If you’re curious about runner control, you’ll be happy to know that you can use the shoulder buttons to have a little more say to when your runners are moving.
Not only is the batting fun but pitching has become something that is simple to understand but still requires some strategy to use. As the pitcher, the player must first select their pitch type from a rotation menu assigned to the right stick. Those familiar with baseball will be pleased to see these types of pitches being assigned to the relevant direction on the thumbstick that the ball will be moving. As with other baseball games the pitcher has a pitching box and you’ll need to select where the pitch goes. A second target appears and the player will have a slight second to steer the two targets unto one another for a more accurate and successful pitch.
One of the more confusing aspects of the game is fielding. When the ball is hit, the direction you push the left thumbstick in first chooses the fielder closest to the ball in that direction. For example, fly ball to right field and you hit left on the thumbstick, it’s going to choose the center fielder. That’s not so bad but when its a line drive, it’s going to select an infield player first and usually by that time the ball is in the outfield and you have to re-select the outfielder. It’s something that could be redone to be just as simple as batting an pitching. I honestly wouldn’t mind the thumbstick just moving all the fielders in the same direction.
There is a mechanic in the game revolving around a player’s “Mojo” in which you can visually see the player sweating profusely and a number representation that pops up making mistakes easier, as if the pressure was on. This plays out in single player and in season play so get used to seeing it pop up a lot. Along with those two modes there are your standard competitive and co-op games supporting up to 4 players. In a strange decision, there is no online play. 2015 and no online play for a sports game seems kind of shortsighted. You can customize characters and all but it feels rather light on customization. If they would have gone whole hog into a huge customization editor for not just players but teams, logos, and stadiums it may have offset the missing MLB license to. May have been a good compliment to the great arcade gameplay.
Super Mega Baseball is a fun game to play but without the MLB license, it’s going to be a hard sell for a baseball fan to want to pick this one up. It’s not for a lack of trying on Super Mega Baseball’s part as it does bring a fun baseball game to next gen consoles and provides something that a family could play together.
An Xbox One code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes