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Who says you have to grow up? Here at SI.com's Game Room, our staffers review the latest sports video game titles to hit the market and welcome your feedback.
 
9/12/2008 12:22:00 PM

Review: Mario Super Sluggers (Wii)

 
Mario Super Sluggers

Image Credit: Nintendo
Things We Like
Baseball With A Twist: At its core, Mario Super Sluggers is a baseball video game, an update of the popular Mario Superstar Baseball for the GameCube. You pitch, you hit, and you field. The only difference at times is that instead of Jeter and A-Rod, you do it with Luigi, Mario and Wario. When you get doubled up by a wizard with a robe and scepter in his hand throwing to Koopa Troopa, you know you are having a weird day. Fun, but definitely weird.
Wii-Mote Waving: This is a big reason why you own a Wii, because you're tired of mashing buttons and want to waggle your bat in the batter's box and rear back on your back leg and throw a heater. Everything in the game can be executed fairly easily with the Wii-Mote and nunchuk controls. The longtime problem of baserunning in video games may finally have been solved by the setup here, where you just have to point the analog stick on the nunchuk toward the next base and press "A" to advance a runner. Stealing is done the same way and is refreshingly easy to accomplish.
More Than Just Baseball: There is an RPG/puzzle-solving adventure game mixed in between ballgames that is surprisingly addictive. Adding teammates can be as simple as wandering around a theme park island and talking to them, but to get the better players such as Donkey Kong and Princess Peach, you have to defeat mini-bosses in challenges that can border on difficult and in a variety of stadiums that each present their own unique challenges -- such as Princess Peach's ice rink ballpark.
Cast of Characters: More than 40 playable Nintendo characters can be unlocked, ranging from the iconic (Donkey Kong) to the obscure (Shy Guy). Customize your starting nine according to the skills of each character: If you want speed on the bases, pencil Yoshi into your lineup. Your ace pitcher is Princess Peach, with Princess Baby Peach and her wicked curveball in relief (don't ask). And if you want to call in the reinforcements, you can import your own Mii into the action as well.
It's A Challenge: This game isn't really for kids ... I mean, it's hard. I recommend going through all the drills before getting into the single-player mode. There's a lot of stuff to remember, from the different pitches to throw to the various swings and the fielding options (buddy jumps and quick-snap throws are especially cool), to say nothing of the "special" controls such as shooting turtle shells at opposing fielders and activating your Star Power. Yeah, like I said, it's weird.
 
Video
A quick look at a "Babies vs. Kongs" game on Mario Super Sluggers:
 
Things We'd Change
No Online Play: You heard that right -- even with a wireless hookup to the Wii you can't get an online game going, so if you don't have any friends to come over and play against you might want to consider passing on this title.
Batter Up: Hitting isn't exactly fine-tuned here, which can be especially frustrating when one of the drills calls for an opposite-field hit. That ends up being guesswork more than anything else. And hitting loopy changeups can be incredibly difficult.
Glove Love?: Fielding isn't awful, but it's hard to see where your fielders are until the ball gets close, and by then it's often too late to make a play.
 
Bottom Line
The baseball videogame landscape is full of so many uninspired and longwinded sims that this addition is more than a little refreshing. While it's not the definitive baseball title Wii owners have been waiting for, Mario Super Sluggers has the depth and fun factor to keep you busy for a while.
Gameplay Graphics Audio Online OVERALL
8 8.5 7.5 NA 8
 
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