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Mario Super Sluggers – Wii

Mario Super Sluggers Platform:  Wii

Release Date (NA):  August 25th, 2008

Developer:  Namco Bandai Games

Genre:  Sports, Baseball

Rating:  5.5 out of 10

 

Are you the type of person who hated all the palette swaps in Mortal Kombat?  Did you get sick of seeing a “Star Wars” figure for every single alien in every single background shot?  If so, well, Mario Super Sluggers may not be the game for you.  This game boasts an impressive roster of characters, with perhaps a solid third of them being different colored Yoshis, Nokis, Piantas, Dry Bones, Shy Guys, and a few others.  More on this later.  If I were rating this game purely on a scale of how much fun I have playing it, I’d probably give it a 7 or 7.5 easily.  The problem is I also have to look at this title as a baseball game, the difficulty factor (read: luck), and whether or not it warrants the inclusion of 60 or so playable characters.Mario Super Sluggers

As per most Mario sports titles, Mario Super Sluggers isn’t exactly baseball.  It’s “Mario-ized” baseball.  When playing for the first few times, one will notice that each character has his or her own unique set of stats for baserunning, fielding, batting, and pitching.  During the main one-player game, the player must master all sorts of techniques such as pulling the ball to the left or right when hitting, learning a number of different pitches, and pulling off some very slick fielding maneuvers.  Learning all of this promises a very unique game with all sorts of possibilities.  Sadly, very little of this actually matters when playing games.  Both pitching and batting all comes down to a matter of timing with very predictable results.  Fielding and baserunning are automatically controlled by the AI to some extent and there is rarely any reason to go against the AI’s judgment.  There are really only a finite set of situations that happen after a hit, so there isn’t much room for highly variable decision making, despite all the flashy techniques learned in the one-player challenge mode.

Since all the minute details of player statistics never really matter, the inclusion of over half of the characters is rather pointless.  There are a few players that are great at hitting home runs, others that are fast when running, and a few that can pitch well.  Beyond this the rest of the characters are fairly mediocre and act as little more than eye-candy filler.  I’m not sure that there would be any great way to coordinate the simultaneous control of 9 players on the field, but even so, very little control is offered over anyone aside from the batter and pitcher.  The AI does a good job at catching fly balls, chases after hits efficiently, and never makes mistakes when it comes to baserunning.  What this boils down to is that one only needs to do a good job timing the hits and pitches and the computer does a fine job at taking care of the rest.

Mario Super SluggersSimilar to Mario Power Tennis, the rules of baseball are played with fast and loose.  Mario Super Sluggers offers up powerups for both the pitcher and the batter.  When it comes to pitching, the ball is nearly impossible to hit, and when batting, one is almost assured a home run assuming the hit connects.  Players also have the ability to shoot “error items” to disrupt fielding, such as turtle shells and bombs.  Many ballparks are also equipped with gimmicks that interfere with fielding.  All things considered, the variability of Mario Super Sluggers lies not in the actual baseball elements, but in the added Mario-esque features.  This can be frustrating when one wants to enjoy it as baseball, but it can also be fun if you try to forget that it’s baseball altogether.

 

When it comes to difficulty, there’s not much to speak of.  The AI gets lucky at times but mostly can’t even approach defeating a human opponent.  The AI constantly refuses to swing at pitches, makes no attempt to avoid the individual pitfalls of most ballparks, rarely pitches fastballs, and generally misuses the “error items.”  When it’s 24 – 0 in the bottom of the second, it can become so easy that double plays and home runs hold little if any meaning.Mario Super Sluggers

My criticisms may be harsh, but Mario Super Sluggers is a fun game, especially against a human opponent.  Of course the AI still controls most of the fielding and baserunning but 2 humans making decisions results in a fair bit of variation.  Another bright spot are the minigames, helping to hone skills that may never be used in the actual games.  More specific tasks are required for more short term goals, and many can get quite addictive.  The best minigame is the “Toy Field,” a sort of strange version of baseball far to complex to detail here.

Controls are nice and intuitive.  The Wii remote is either swung like a bat to hit, or held as the arm does a throwing motion to pitch and field.  Although very easy to understand from the beginning, the game seems to have a problem registering whether the remote is being moved up or down, or backwards or forwards.  For example, sometimes as one winds up for the pitch, the remote seems to think the pitch is being thrown resulting in confusion on the part of both pitcher and batter.  Likewise with batting, one may pull the remote back to get ready to swing but with the slightest motion the character swings instead of waiting for the full motion of swinging the remote.  This issue isn’t present enough to severely affect gameplay, but it does happen often enough to be a nuisance one wishes didn’t exist.

Mario Super SluggersDon’t get me wrong, I’m glad I own this game and I play it regularly.  For sheer fun, it may be one of the best Mario sports titles available.  It is disappointing that so much initial focus is placed on actual baseball aspects when the game itself relies more on all of the non-baseball, Mario-ized elements, but if taken lightly there is a ton of stuff to love about Mario Super Sluggers.  

 

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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