Nintendo Australia Mario Super Sluggers
A swing and a miss for Mario Super Sluggers!
- Huge roster of Nintendo characters, tonnes of minigames and extra modes, Toy Box mode is fun.
- Poorly implemented controls, too many game-breaking moves, Challenge mode gets repetitive.
Poor controls, frustrating gameplay and a repetitive single-player mode mean it's three strikes and you're out for Mario and his friends.
Unfortunately, the items and skill-moves sort of break the game; they're almost too powerful at times and are just plain antithetical to the game of baseball. Sure, all Mario sports games have a plethora of crazy items and moves you'd never see on ESPN, but the good ones, like Mario Strikers Charged, allowed for great players to combat them with adept usage of ordinary moves. In Sluggers, some of the moves, especially the super-swings, are almost always guaranteed to produce a hit, and the wall jumps will almost always rob your opponent of a homer. While you can turn off items, the special moves remain a sore spot and make the game almost too over the top.
Thankfully, that's less of an issue in the game's the extra modes which feature faint glimpses of hope amongst the main Exhibition mode's failures. The Challenge mode, where you unlock the lion's share of the game's characters and stadiums, offers a lot of potential. It plays out much like a point and click adventure/RPG hybrid. As Mario, you visit the various stadiums on Baseball Island, recruiting teammates and switching between other allied captains in order to put together a team strong enough to take on Bowser and his son. Exploring the many stages is actually quite fun, as you've got to switch between captains to find the right one for whatever obstacle lays ahead, and the many recruits have well-written dialogue that will push you forward in spite of the constant slew of boring "Scout Mission" tutorial-style games that you have to complete. The end result is that you'll play about 40 variations of "hit the ball there" or "throw this pitch" and play about 8 innings of baseball in order to unlock everything in the game. Some variance in the gameplay would have helped complement the mode's surprisingly enjoyable exploration and narrative.
And then there's the minigames that offer up a Mario Party like experience: there are a couple of crazy four-player events that range from hitting a baseball onto a pinball field with your opponents serving as the bumpers, running on a canvas with a paintbrush, and throwing pitches at randomly appearing ghosts. While a few of the minigames have some charm, most are random, chaotic affairs that are overloaded with rules that have little to do with baseball.
The Toy Box mode fares much better: it's a fleshed-out minigame that features quite a few facets from the game of baseball while still including the crazy Mario Sports charm. One player hits a randomly selected pitch and receives points depending on where the ball lands. The other three must pick up the ball within a short period of time, with the person in possession of the ball being the next batter (if nobody has the ball, the hitter bats again). With the fielders beating each other up, and the batter having the ability to use an item, the action in Toy Box mode is fun and fast, with little in the way of awkward controls or broken balance. It makes you wonder why Namco-Bandai didn't try to spread that gameplay ethic to the rest of the game.
Mario Super Sluggers does take good advantage of the Mario license but it fails with faulty controls and poorly implemented concepts. It's an uneven and often times frustrating title that doesn't come close to matching the zany over-the-top fun of other Mario sports titles like Strikers Charged or the simplistic fun of Wii Sports Baseball. Mario fanatics will probably find reasons to like it but anyone expecting a bigger and better version of the awesome Wii Sports minigame will no doubt be disappointed.
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