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Archive for Saturday, September 24, 2005

Mario Baseball too simple for its own good

September 24, 2005

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Like previous installments in the Mario sports series, Mario Superstar Baseball shuns the minute details and simulation aspects found in games by EA and Sega in favor of a more accessible gaming experience in hopes of appealing to the more casual gamer.

This is accomplished by simplifying the control scheme to a level which an adept kindergartner would be comfortable using. The A button is the star of the show here, throwing, batting, jumping and pitching. You can literally play this game with one hand. B has two commands (bunting and sprinting), while X and Y handle manual base running and steals. Holding the R button during pitching or batting performs your character's star move, the Mushroom Kingdom's equivalent of a performance enhancer.

Timing is a major factor on both sides of the ball. Hit a pitch with a precisely timed charged swing, and it's going, going, gone. Swing too early or late, and it's an easy out for the opposition. Release A at the appropriate time during a wind up, and you'll throw the heat. When fielding, charge your throw and you may get the ball to its designated base in time to get a clinching out.

Once you've played a few games, it becomes obvious which characters belong on the field and which ones need to hit the showers - permanently.

In challenge mode, you select a team captain at the outset. Your team is then made up of your captain and the two or three exclusive characters to that ball club. The remainder of your roster consists of subordinates who all play and control the same. Your team then travels around the Mushroom Kingdom challenging different teams in hopes of stealing away their Superstar players (hence the game's title).

In addition to challenge mode are exhibition, toy game, practice and minigame modes.

So what's wrong with Mario Superstar Baseball? Well for one, it's too simple for it's own good. Once you've gotten the timing down for batting and pitching, you're pretty much set. In addition, challenge mode takes about two hours to run through and offers nothing more than an increase in difficulty.

If you're a sport fan who's burned out on the excessive realism of games like Madden or MLB, a first-time player of sports videogames looking to get your feet wet, or a Mario fan who's dying to settle the age-old debate over whether Mario can hit Luigi's slider, then check this out. For all others: Stick with the real thing, you'll play it longer.

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