If there?s one game I?ve had trouble renting a copy of it?s Mario Superstar Baseball for Nintendo Gamecube. Most places only carry one copy and what with Blockbuster Video?s new no late fees policy and Rogers Video charging only a dollar a day for extended play, it?s a rat race to get anything when it first comes out. But finally after keeping it an extra three weeks a copy of Mario Superstar Baseball was returned to my neighbourhood Blockbuster Video so let?s get this party started.
Mario Superstar Baseball is a sports action game. ?Sports action? means the important rules of the game are there, but there are improvements, depending on your taste, to make things more interesting. In other words, these titles are oft times for people who get bored very easily with a sports title that is realistic. Needles to say, I tend to find that people seldom like both.
Surprisingly, a broad entourage of characters from the Mario series is in this game from both the past and the present. All the characters who appeared in Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Tennis are in there, which includes Donkey Kong and Wario, as well as enemies who if you?re old enough to remember, you?re sure to recognize – from the koopas that would throw hammers at you in Super Mario Bros. 3, to the wizards that would turn blocks into enemies with their wands in Super Mario World. At the very least, this game has a fantastic nostalgia factor going for it.
In the beginning of the one player mode you have five teams to choose from, each consisting of a good balance of heavy hitters, fast runners, good pitchers but for the most part, a ton of annoyingly bad characters. As you play games against the other four teams you have chances to scout new and better characters from them. The way this scouting system works is that every character has a number of flags needed to unlock them. While in the middle of a game you?re often presented with a challenge such as striking the person up at bat out, or simply getting a hit. Complete the challenge and you?ll get the flag. Thus, for the most part it?s very simple but you do have to win the game as well. Fortunately, any flag you get you keep, so you can usually round up all the characters you fancy within two games.
As with any Mario title, the objective of the one player mode is to eventually whoop Bowswer. Once you beat the other four teams and have likely assembled your strongest team, you get the chance to play him.
The gameplay is smooth although you?re sure to hiccup when your team is on the field. There?s an automatic setting for fielding and personally, I love it. My only beef with gameplay and the game as a whole would have to be the difficulty that comes with trying to hit the ball. I mean, it makes sense that if you swing too soon or too late or your character is too far away from the plate you?ll swing and miss but I don?t care for stuff like that when I?m playing these kinds of sports games ? if I wanted realism in a sports game I?d rent MLB. However, the game does offer a setting, which places a target above the plate, to make things easier.
In terms of things that make this game a sports action title, for starters, characters have specials when it comes to pitching. Mario, for example can use a star to pitch a fireball meanwhile Wario can use a star to throw a jerky bullet-bill style missile. You can carry a maximum of five stars at once and you are given plenty of what are called ?star chances? to replenish them. All you need to do on a star chance is either get the player out, if you?re pitching or get a hit if you?re up to bat. Stars can also be used while hitting so that if you connect with the ball correctly, you?re sure to get a homerun.
Most of the stadiums have obstacles that can change your luck for better or for worse. In Donkey Kong?s stadium for example, barrels randomly roll by in the outfield knocking anyone they crash into unconscious for a moment. Believe me, when this happens, you either want to dance, or throw your controller out the window.
Specific groups of characters are what the game calls ?buddies? and are capable of giving you the upper hand. When fielding buddies will throw the ball faster to each other and with batting a character will often achieve beautiful hits when hisher buddy is on a base. The buddy system really makes all the difference in the game especially when you?re up to bat; if you have a line-up of four buddies in a row it can often mean the turning point in the game, as you?ll have the opportunity to dominate and score some runs. Thus, it becomes important that you pay attention to who you put on your team when scouting characters. The more buddies you have on a team the stronger you?ll be.
Graphics are beautifully smooth and the quick load time is also worthy of mention. I?ve read some reviews for this title and I think that in general it?s underrated. I just wish Nintendo would make more of these Mario themed sports games like maybe hockey or basketball because they?re all about the fun factor, especially when you play with a friend. So there you have it, I?d recommend renting this one first but for the most part this is a solid title that delivers.