took Nintendo longer than usual to realize it hadn't
milked a particular genre enough. They've invaded
racing, RPG's, puzzle, fighting et al, but they've
only recently began to infiltrate the sports market.
With tennis and golf out of the way, baseball and
soccer are the next in line. Astute readers will recall
that Nintendo did baseball and boxing in the latest
EA releases of Fight Night Round 2 and NBA Street
isn't exactly a fun sport. In fact it's one of those
sports that is actually more fun to play than it is
to watch in the stands. Mario Superstar Baseball tries
to up the ante in terms of excitement, injecting all
sorts of Mario Universe themes and characters into
the game along with the trademark powerups and other
goofiness but it just doesn't seem to elevate itself
above being anything more than a colorful gimmick.
With dozens of characters to choose from, the "Hey,
it's that guy from SMB2!" factor is pretty high.
in point. Mario Superstar Baseball doesn't feature
an entire season mode which should let you know immediately
where the heart of the game lies. It's all about picking
up the controller, having some wacky baseball fun
for a half an hour or less and then going to grandma's
house for a nice homecooked roast beef dinner. Roast
beef not included.
who love everything "Mario-fied" won't be
disappointed. The characters all have their own stats
which you should weigh heavily before deciding who
to play on your team (or simply hit Random if you
couldn't possibly care less). You should expect to
see pitchers charging their throws and batters charging
their swings to counteract the incoming pitch. Play
well and you'll get the opportunity to unlock even
crazier powers when you step up to the plate.
isn't completely void of challenge. There is quite
a bit of strategy involved in the game once you understand
the characters and their strengths and weaknesses.
I imagine that most players who are sitting down for
a short game of MSB won't be digging all that deep
into the layers of the game, preferring to see how
Namco interprets Mario while interpretting baseball
at the same time.
is excellent although I found that the HUD of the
characters on the bases wasn't accurate enough to
judge positioning which took a lot of getting used
to. I often found myself further away from the base
than what was represented on the display.
the regular game is wearing thin, Namco tossed in
some lightweight but appropriately themed mini-games
that will add some extra oomph. The Toy Field where
up to 4 players must hit the balls into various targets
to earn coins and other goodies was oddly addicting.
It was one of those "Just one more try..."
wouldn't rush out immediately for a copy of MSB, but
if you need to play every Mario themed game that comes
down the pipe don't let me stop you. Considering Nintendo
Pennant Chase Baseball was recently eradicated from
release lists, Mario and his posse might be looking
good at the moment. If you're really into the sport,
look no further than EA's MVP Baseball which obviously
takes the game much more seriously. MSB could be a
fun way to introduce your kids to baseball, but don't
expect them to take a hankering for the real thing.
Once they realize that there is no King Boo or Wario
in the outfield as you sit your asses down at the
ballpark, they'll realize they've been totally had.
That's when you break out the beer. Root beer.