Mario Super Sluggers

October 27, 2008

Mario baseball on the Wii should have been a sure thing. Take one part Wii Sports baseball and one part Mario Superstar Baseball, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and rake in the cash. Sadly, what we got was a less challenging version of Mario Superstar Baseball with a bad single-player camera and motion controls with no good alternative.

Unexpectedly, Mario Super Sluggers is defined by its motion controls. Swing the Wii remote like a bat to swing, lift and flick forward to throw a pitch, and shake the remote to run faster around the bases. The nunchaku is optional but recommended to players that want any control over their outfielders. Those that play with the remote only aren’t left out in the cold though. The AI will take care of the fielders for you, but be warned – it’s pretty conservative. For those that prefer a less arm-wiggling control scheme the Wii remote can be held sideways, but it’s a tough scheme to pick up since you can’t use it in the tutorial, the d-pad is nowhere near as responsive as the analog stick, and button functions are double up – the biggest offender being “advance base” and “sprint.” A control scheme without motion controls is nice, but enabling the GameCube controller would have been much better.

Mario Super Sluggers is best experienced in competitive exhibition games. Players with good chemistry can drastically alter how any given play goes down from denying your buddy of a home run by allowing your fielder to jump off of a buddy’s shoulders to having your on-deck batter distract the defense while you’re up to bat. If you don’t have a buddy nearby, exhibition can also offer a decent challenge with the difficulty ratcheted up.

Mario Super Sluggers’ most disappointing change is the loss of the single-player challenge mode. The name remains, but instead of squaring off against different teams you’ll just wander around different stadiums and compete in short challenges like complete a double play. For a casual audience these challenges are appropriate, but those that came from Mario Superstar Baseball are going to be disappointed by the reduced difficulty in a mode with the word challenge in the name.

Mario Super Sluggers drops the ball in a few places. Environments feel uninspired, and none of them feel as well-designed as those found in Mario Superstar Baseball. Star power animations are short and bland, usually featuring nothing more than a quick orange or red flourish. Worst of all though is the single-player pitching camera view that can’t be changed. The camera sticks behind the mound throughout the pitch making it nearly impossible to gauge where the ball is when it crosses the plate. Despite these shortcomings though, Mario Super Sluggers manages to be a fun, if simple, arcade baseball game. Just don’t go in expecting as deep an experience as Mario Superstar Baseball, and you’ll be ready to have a good time with some friends in exhibition mode.

Plays like: A cheaper version of Mario Superstar Baseball that has motion controls this time

ESRB: E for Comic Mischief – Mario is appropriate for everybody

Pros: Fun in multiplayer

Cons: uninspired arenas, bad pitching camera, no good conventional control scheme

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.