Super Mega Baseball 4 Review
Super Mega Baseball 4 manages to stay within the baselines between the worlds of hardcore baseball sims and pure arcade games. The game is very accessible to those who don’t immerse themselves in the metrics side of the sport ala money ball, but there is a surprising amount of depth to it. Or at least there’s as much depth to it as you’d like.
The game lets you know it’s in it for the fun of the sport right from the first pitch. Jump into an exhibition game to get your bearings and you see that the game features brightly-colored cartoon-style graphics with players that will remind you of all of those games in the 90s that had cheat codes for a “big head mode”. The team names and logos are playful, with teams such as the Platypi, Sirloin, and Wideloads, and the player names feature a number of puns. There are plenty of player animations, and the players ham it up when coming up to bat, or when they are happy or frustrated with their play.
Pitchers each have a selection of pitch types to choose from. Once you pick a pitch type, you select the pitch’s desired location – arrows will indicate the direction the pitch will take when thrown. During the wind-up you try to direct the moving cursor onto the spot you’re aiming for. Align it perfectly and you’ll throw a great pitch. Misalign it and your pitch won’t go where you wanted it to. It takes longer to explain than it does to just pick up a controller and do it. The controls are pretty intuitive and easy to learn, but if you’re completely new to sports games the game will help you along the way as you learn the interface.
When batting you use a cursor to aim your swing at the location of the ball, and time your press of the swing button to the arrival of the pitch. Again, pretty easy to just pick-up and play. There are also bunt and power swing buttons in addition to the regular swing. Using the power swing is a little awkward, but you’ll be able to knock it out of the park with a well-timed regular swing.
Pay a little more attention to the interface when you’re pitching or batting and you’ll see there’s a good amount of scouting information displayed, as well as any special traits that player possesses such as “Off-Speed Hitter”. There’s more going on under the hood here than in a pure arcade game, and it adds some variety, challenge, and strategy to the game. How much it adds is tied to the game’s ego system. Basically, the better that you do, the better your ego rating becomes. Higher ego increases the game’s difficulty – you never really get into true sim territory here, but you won’t succeed at the upper ego levels by simply pushing the swing button on every pitch. If you find that you’ve pushed yourself to a level that’s a bit too challenging, the game will adjust you down automatically, or you can turn down the level yourself. Ego is also used when matching players online. The game tries to match players at similar ego levels to ensure that each game is fun and competitive.
There are a good number of modes here for a game that looks so casual on first glance. In addition to the pick-up-and-play Exhibition mode, Elimination lets you set-up a customizable tournament bracket in which you can set the number of games per series, innings per game, and more. Season mode lets you pick a team and try to win the championship with it, but if you want to be more hands-on with your team the game has a more in-depth Franchise mode. Sign players, manage your team chemistry, and develop players skills, you’re given a fair amount of control without getting bogged down in too many details to spend time playing your team’s games. You can either play with one of the game’s franchises, or create your own, picking its name, setting its colors, and designing its uniforms.
In addition to its large roster of fictional players, Super Mega Baseball 4 introduces baseball legends to the franchise. There are over 200 past MLB players from different eras, so you can have a battery of Randy Johnson and Johnny Bench working to get Babe Ruth out. You can play the game with the fictional players, the legends, or a mix of both.
While the game is entirely playable and enjoyable against the CPU, it can be played against other gamers either 1-on-1, 2-on-1, or 2-on-2 in Exhibition or Elimination. In addition, there are online Pennant Race and League modes. In Pennant Race you select your team and are placed in a group with up to 15 other players – players are matched by their ego level and platform cross-play is supported. After a series of quick match-ups the winner is crowned. For League mode, you can join a public league or create your own private one.
I found myself having fun with Super Mega Baseball 4. I liked how I could just jump in and play a short inning game when short on time, or set up a longer tournament when I wanted a little more baseball action than that. The online play works well, games are relatively quick so you can easily get a few games in without a major investment in time. And the adjustable challenge makes it fun for younger as well as older gamers, as well as those who only casually follow the sport and those who can reel off the stats for each of the legends in the game.
Final Rating: 86% - Super Mega Baseball 4 answers the question "baseball is supposed to be fun, right?" with a resounding "yes!"
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.