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Review: Super Mega Baseball 2 is Fun, Mechanically Satisfying Baseball Bliss

 

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

Super Mega Baseball 2—the name alone evokes nostalgia for a bygone era of SNES generation baseball games: full of unlicensed teams and great couch competition. Super Mega Baseball 2, developed by Metalhead Software, may look like a cartoony arcade experience, but in fact, it’s a mechanically adept baseball game that balances realism and pacing to make a great approximation of baseball—though it’s not entirely without flaws.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

Super Mega Baseball 2, in my opinion, perfectly skirts the line between a baseball simulation, and one that’s just a pure arcade experience. You are given a degree of control over the hitting, pitching, and fielding that allows for anyone to pick up and play without confusion, but it never makes you feel like you don’t have enough control. The mechanics for hitting, pitching, fielding, etc. are all extremely satisfying and solidly recreate a baseball-like feel, especially when playing against a non-AI opponent–more on that later.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

First off, as I’ve mentioned, everything feels great, and this is helped by the great sound. Bats give off an appropriately satisfying wooden thunk when they make good contact, and you can really hear the ball slap leather when your pitcher throws a satisfying fastball. The art style itself, though non-realistic, is appealing and functional. Animations can range from solid to mediocre, though–this is especially apparent during the sometimes awkward (and limited) player celebrations. But what Super Mega Baseball 2 lacks in production value, it makes up for in fun.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

Hitting consists of tracking a pitch with your reticle, and attempting to get solid contact with either a normal or a heavy swing. As in real life, it’s all about timing, and with practice you can consistently hit balls into the gap, or even dig out home runs. Of course, the players’ stats themselves come into consideration more than just player reflex, and you have the abilities to substitute or replace at your discretion.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

Pitching is also handled well, with each different pitcher having different pitches at their disposal. Pitching is more than choosing a pitch and where it lands, as there’s a degree of real-time control that is required, to simulate pitcher accuracy, etc. I find pitching tends to be tedious in some baseball games, but Super Mega Baseball 2 actually manages to make it compelling, especially so against human opponents.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

Fielding is handled okay. Despite the inherent challenge of managing an entire team’s outfield simultaneously, Super Mega Baseball 2 skirts the line of just enough versus too much automation.

Baserunning, though, feels a bit unwieldy both from a defensive and offensive standpoint. First of all, while defending, sometimes it is hard to even tell which runners are on which bases because the color of the icon that represents them is the same color as the base. Sometimes I’d find myself having to take a split second too long trying to determine where I want to field the ball, leading to bad decisions or throws that were too late. As an actual baserunner, it takes a decent amount of practice to become efficient at controlling your individual runners. Super Mega Baseball 2 has taken admirable strides, but I have yet to find a game that doesn’t over automate while not making it overwhelming. Luckily, Super Mega Baseball 2’s system works great after enough practice.

Sure, everything works better if you can practice it more, but perhaps my biggest complaint with Super Mega Baseball 2 is its lack of practice modes. There is a pretty good tutorial that runs through your first few games (or whenever you first run into a particular scenario) that does a pretty good job of setting up the basics and familiarize you with the controls, but it took me a good long while before I had enough practice with Super Mega Baseball 2’s systems that I was able to interact with them in a non-stressful way that I felt was fair. A practice mode, or practice scenarios that help you just baserun, field the ball, etc. would benefit players greatly. This is especially true because the AI is just brutally difficult, even on easier settings. Though, you can customize the AI per speciality, (like fielding, hitting, pitching, etc.) and even per player, in multiplayer games.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

As far as game modes, there are the normal exhibition modes, as well as league play, etc. You can play many modes multiplayer, either online, or locally (or a combination of both.) You can either play with or against friends, trading off on roles when you play co-op.

You can either choose to play the premade teams, or use the robust customization features to create your own teams or leagues and populate them with premade or customized players.The customization options in Super Mega Baseball 2 are great, and something I admit I might have spent too much time messing around with.

Image courtesy Metalhead Software

Despite the lack of training modes, if you know baseball, or are just familiar with how it works, Super Mega Baseball 2 is great. Don’t let looks fool you, it might not have the production values of something like The Show but it more than makes up for that in great, mechanically satisfying gameplay. If you like baseball, you’ll like Super Mega Baseball 2–especially with friends.

 

A copy of this game was provided to us for review purposes.

 

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