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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Namco

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

August 26, 2005

 

 

- Cool opening cut-scene

- Nice selection of characters from the Mario games

- Simple, intuitive pitching, hitting, and base-running interfaces

 

 

- Challenge Mode offers little in the way of actual challenge

- Borrows a bit too heavily from the Camelot sports template

- One day of play suffices to see all there is to see

 

 

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Mario Superstar Baseball

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Mario Superstar Baseball (MSB) gives America ’s pastime a cutesy, glossy Nintendo makeover.  The result is similar to the fun sports titles from Camelot Software—Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, specifically.  What that means is less attention to detail than most sport’s titles but much friendlier batting and pitching interfaces.

 

mario superstar baseball review          mario superstar baseball review

 

MSB opens with an amazing pre-rendered cut-scene that features the full Mario cast.  Though lighter in tone, the movie is on par with some of the best I’ve seen.  After the cut-scene, players are given the option to jump right into a game or take on the Challenge mode.  Either mode features cartoony characters and wild stadiums themed around Nintendo mascots and levels.  The style pretty much announces that this isn’t a serious game of baseball.

 

Exhibition Mode is a gateway to the basic arcade baseball game.  Players choose from the list of available teams and go at it.  Exhibition Mode is a fair introduction to the game as it is only missing the ridiculous power-ups available for purchase in the Challenge mode.   Games in Exhibition Mode rarely take more than ten minutes.  The batting and pitching interfaces are simple, mostly two-button designs that anyone can pick up within seconds.  The fielding interface is similarly basic, though the wild camera swings can have a player heading in the wrong direction to field a ball.  The running game is particularly arcade-like as it includes the ability to speed up runners by quickly tapping the button—there’s something just so darned satisfying and old-school about beating out a base hit after randomly bashing a button.

 

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Still, the Challenge Mode is where most players will spend the majority of their time with the game.  Players start with a team of Nintendo also-rans that they use to challenge teams managed by more famous mascots.  After beating a team (assuming players have completed in-game challenges) members of the opposing team will become available.  In this way, players put together all-star teams to take on Bowser for the championship.  The Challenge Mode will remind some of you of 

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the arcade mode in most fighters, with each successive completion of the mode opening up new characters and stadiums for the other modes.  Each run-through of the Challenge Mode takes about thirty minutes and the mode isn’t exactly challenging.  Still, there is a good deal of fun to be had.

 

What separates Mario Superstar Baseball from other arcade baseball games is the Nintendo license.  It is fun to see all the familiar faces as Challenge Mode progresses and to then replace the initial mixture of obscure mascots with truly legendary characters.  I especially liked the obstacle course like atmosphere of the different stadiums (though having a dust devil whirl a hit into a foul ball was always frustrating) each themed around a different Nintendo character.

 

mario superstar baseball review          mario superstar baseball review

 

In the end, Mario Superstar Baseball isn’t a game for everyone.  Anyone seeking a deep, option-rich baseball experience is likely to be disappointed.  However, anyone on the lookout for a fast-paced, cutesy arcade baseball title which happens to feature famous Nintendo mascots need look no further—MSB is the only game in town.

 

- Danny Webb

(October 18, 2005)

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