Share.

This arcadey-looking sim is deeper than it looks.

With a name like Super Mega Baseball 2, you might reasonably expect to see monster home runs, flaming fastballs, or superhuman feats of skill. Surprisingly, Super Mega Baseball 2 is closer to a true hardball simulation. If you look beyond the oddly stylized players and exaggerated stadiums, you’ll find an appealing, customizable, and authentic baseball game.

While Super Mega Baseball 2 doesn’t offer all of the features or the officially licensed teams and players of MLB: The Show (effectively the only other baseball game in town), it’s gameplay isn’t too far off. They may look cartoony, but thanks to a convincing physics model, players and the ball travel in a realistic fashion. For instance, if a player takes a hard cut at an inside fastball, you can expect him to get jammed and consequently generate a weak ground ball. Or, if weak contact is made on an outside pitch, that ball will likely get pushed the opposite way. Once, I saw a ball hit the edge of the grass and take a predictable bad hop. Throughout my time with Super Mega Baseball 2, I was impressed with the variety and realism of hits.

A good fielder can make some highlight-style plays.

On the defensive side of things are little bit wilder, but not by much. Pitches move a bit more than they would in real life, and you can make some highlight-style plays if you’re using a good fielder and possess exquisite timing. For those coming from the original Super Mega Baseball, the gameplay feels similarly smooth and accessible, just more fluid and polished.

While I love the gameplay, the controls occasionally get in the way. Contact swings feel sluggish, especially in comparison to The Show. Diving for balls correctly takes some practice as well; I ended up diving too early quite a bit. These timing issues aren’t something that can’t be overcome, but it certainly takes some getting used to.

Fielders also move on their own… except when they don’t. Occasionally they require help to take the best route to the ball or execute a tough play. According to Super Mega Baseball 2’s help screens, this is intentional. Yet it’s not always clear when a player is gliding under a pop fly or when he’s nowhere close.  The lack of any kind of fielding indicator other than the ball’s shadow doesn’t help either. Once I lost a game because an outfielder I assumed was camped under a fly ball wasn’t quite in the right spot.

Likewise, it’s advisable to keep an eye on baserunners, who seem to run on any ball put into play. I’ve lost a few too many runs thanks to runners blindly running into double plays or not being in a position to tag up.

How much help your team requires with fielding and running, as well as AI skill, is based on Super Mega Baseball 2’s unique Ego system, which is essentially a 100 difficulty scale which carries throughout all modes. Finding the best Ego setting is a game within itself; picky users will want to tweak this number after each game.

Ego can be set for each individual phase.

There’s a lot of nuance to it, because Ego can be set for each individual phase. So if you are hitting too many home runs while also giving up too many, you can adjust the batting and pitching Egos independently. After some tweaking, I found a balanced game for my skill around Ego 40. Super Mega Baseball 2 also provides a game score, based on Ego; if you are only interested in playing one-off games instead of investing time in a full season, you can always try to beat your high score.

It’s also set per user, so kids playing against their parents can get a boost for a level playing field – or vice versa. Also of note for families looking for a baseball game: Super Mega Baseball 2 offers drop-in local co-op. Players alternate fielding while the other pitches, as well as taking turns hitting.

Super Mega Baseball 2 also offers online head-to-head exhibition games, something the original lacked. While there are no online leagues, there is a ranked Pennant Race mode that tracks records over a certain length of time.

While Super Mega Baseball 2’s gameplay is real enough, it doesn’t have access to the MLB license, which means it doesn’t have any of the real MLB teams or players. Instead, it offers a robust customization suite that, unlike other major sports games, is actually very user-friendly. As inspiration, Super Mega Baseball 2 takes a handful of logos and creatively produces dozens of different pre-made teams. You can also create and customize a league, down to the number of teams, divisions, and conferences.

This morale system is fun, novel, and effective at creating hot streaks and slumps.

Leagues are used in Season mode, the only mode of length in the game. During a season, Super Mega Baseball 2 collects a variety of stats, impressive for a lighter game like this. I was surprised to see stats like Batting Average on Balls in Play and Pitchers per Inning tracked in my season. More interesting are the various in-game events that affect players’ abilities.

For instance, Mojo is shaped by on-field performance. Too many strikeouts and you can expect a player’s hitting abilities to start to decline. However, a few hits will raise that player’s Mojo, perhaps to where he is outplaying his own ratings. The system works similarly for pitchers. Thanks to some really clear symbols and rating bars, this morale system is fun, novel, and effective at creating hot streaks and slumps.

A player’s physical status also shapes these ratings as injuries, slides, and dives wear on their ratings. Once I had a batter get hit in the ankle; immediately his speed stat decreased, and it stayed that way until I rested him during the next game to increase his physique back to normal. Like Mojo, I like this clear and original way of simulating fatigue.

Super Mega Baseball 2 has a distinctive look that’s not always appealing. While the animations look real enough, there are some strange-looking characters thanks to some very cartoony player models. While I would prefer less stylized figures in a game as sim-like as this, they move naturally enough that I’m not bothered by how big their heads are. I will give the developers credit for including women among the players, something that caught my daughter’s eye as she watched me play. The stadiums are among the nicest visual aspects of Super Mega Baseball 2, each representing various areas of the world; my favorite is the Japanese stadium that features drones circling above the stands. Though with only eight stadiums available, I wish there were more.

Sound design is relatively boring, with no commentary to punch up the atmosphere, and just the slightest amount of stadium noise, which is a mismatch with the energetic visuals. Plus, it would be fun to hear some of the crazier names announced by a broadcaster. The music is unremarkable; you won’t lose much if you mute the TV and play a baseball broadcast in the background.

The Verdict

Super Mega Baseball 2 is a grounded baseball simulation wrapped in an arcade-style look and feel. An accurate physics engine generates realistic hits, and it keeps stats and models fatigue and morale in interesting ways. This realism is betrayed by a few control issues that affect the timing when batting and an AI that doesn’t always behave as you’d expect. However, the unique Ego system allows you to tweak the difficulty of batting and fielding individually until you find the perfect challenge. And while it lacks the MLB license, you could use the accessible customization tools to recreate the entire MLB if you wanted to.



Source link