Review: Super Mega Baseball (PS4/PS3)

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Title: Super Mega Baseball
Format: PlayStation Network Download (270 MB)
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Publisher: Metalhead Software Inc.
Developer: Metalhead Software Inc.
Original MSRP: $19.99 *This is a Cross-Buy title.
ESRB Rating: E
Super Mega Baseball is exclusive to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. This is a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 402 of the podcast.

There are no ties to Major League Baseball or any other “official” leagues or players, and if you were a gamer back in the old days, you’re going to love what you’re getting.

Gameplay:
It’s baseball, what more do you need to know? Oh okay, think back to your favorite baseball games on the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis etc., and that’s definitely what will come to mind when you play Super Mega Baseball. Like some other games such as those in the Power Pros series, this one may fool you with its first impression, that of a cutesy, almost kiddie looking game. But start playing and you’ll quickly realize that this is a very solid baseball game. Stats are deep, gameplay is solid, and physics are accurate.

Available are twelve teams and four stadiums, all quite varied. Each team is adept at one aspect of the game, from power hitting, pitching, contact, and even base running. On top of that though is the ability to edit each team to make it your own. Take some time and edit the players and uniforms or even name everything to your hearts desire.

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Difficulty is measured in “ego” which initially starts quite low (it can go from 0-99) but can be adjusted to whatever your preference is. The default is 20, and that level, I won the first game 40-1. When I rolled it up to 50 though, things became much more balanced and even a bit challenging. Thankfully, you’re able to adjust the ego level between games in a season, so you’re not stuck with whatever you initially set it to.

The folks at Metalhead Software have done an admirable job at making the game both approachable but also something that a die-hard baseball fan would appreciate. Hitting, pitching, and fielding are all easy to learn but also offer even more to master if you so choose. Pitching is handled by choosing a specific pitch with the Right Stick, then initiating the pitch with X. Once thrown, you can use the Left Stick to actively aim a reticle to keep the ball on target. You can also use the Right Stick for pitching if you want to which adds more control over the process.

Fielding too, is easy to pick up, but offers a lot of expected features. You’re able to dive, jump, and even pre-load a throw. Your fielders run pretty slowly though, which is one of the only annoyances that I’ve encountered. You can even throw to the cutoff (unlike Sammy Sosa) by hitting L1 or R1, or to a specific base that corresponds to a face button on the controller. Throwing even allows use of a meter although it’s a bit simplistic.

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With hitting there aren’t any alternate views but the view that’s available works very well. You can simply use X while moving the cursor (the cursor will actually move toward the incoming ball’s position at lower ego settings), or you can use a more advanced hitting style with the power hit. As the pitcher winds-up, hold the Square button to pre-load your power then release when you want to swing. It’s a cool risk/reward mechanism that makes the decision much more involved than simply hitting a button for a power swing.

Baserunning is also streamlined and well done. You can either advance or reverse all of your runners with L1 and R1, or choose a specific runner with the Left Stick then push the corresponding face button to send your player to that base, even if you’re going from first base to home plate. We’ve encountered running systems like this before and it’s one of my favorites.

Team management in a season is pretty deep. It even allows you to hire managers after you level your team up and the interface shows which players will be affected. Team customization is pretty straightforward too, and if you have the time, the options are satisfying.

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You can also play up to four people in both season and exhibition modes, but all four players are local. The developers have said that Share Play is supposed to work for 1v1 but at the time of this writing it still isn’t working. Other than that though there are no online play options.

Visuals:
Whimsy is definitely the word that comes to mind when you boot the game up. Characters are more caricatures then realistic, and the four included stadiums are a mixture of nice field visuals with a wildly animated crowd all in an environment that always seems a bit over the top. What will catch you by surprise though is the wonderful lighting, the smooth frame rate, and the above average animations. I’m not totally sure if I like the character designs fully, but that’s a small complaint in an otherwise fantastic game.

Audio:
Beside the odd sounding umpires the audio is very good. The crack of the bat, the crowd roaring, and even the fireworks when you get a home run, sound great all in very well mixed surround. The umpires, as I mentioned, have a very weird and gravelly sound to them which caught me off-guard the first couple of times I heard them.

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Online/Multiplayer:
As mentioned above, there are no online options, but they do have online leaderboards for various aspects of the game, some of which will display while you’re playing specific modes.

Conclusion:
Color me surprised. More often than not, a baseball game like this becomes a huge disappointment (I’m looking at you RBI 14). I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it and I’m still playing on a regular basis. If you didn’t notice too, this review covers both the PS3 and PS4 versions because the game is identical on both platforms with only faster load times and a tad cleaner visuals on PS4. It’s Cross-Buy though so the decision is pretty easy. If you’re a baseball fan looking for a change of pace, Super Mega Baseball fits that bill very well and I can’t recommend it enough.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Elgato Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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