Review by TheGutsyBat

Reviewed: 08/31/05

Mario Superstar Baseball is arguably the best game in the Mario sports series

Since his inception nearly 25 years ago, Mario has done it all in the world of gaming, and with much success I might add. He's saved Princess Peach countless times in the Super Mario Brothers series, he's defeated Smithy's evil game in Super Mario RPG, he's tore up the track in Super Mario Kart, and just recently, he began to find himself in other sports titles. Super Mario Kart was an obvious success, and Mario Golf and Mario Tennis weren't very far behind. Nintendo created a formula for success, and it has grown exponentially over the past 13 years or so since the "Mario Sports" franchise was incepted with the release of Mario Kart. Mario Superstar Baseball might have seemed like an odd choice for some, but for me, this is arguably the best game in the Mario sports series.

Graphics/Presentation (10/10): I think this category should almost be a given. Nintendo knows how to present a game. The opening cinematic shows the true power of the Gamecube, showcasing a handful of the Nintendo stars making appearances in MSB. The in-game presentation is spectacular. Character models are on right on par. The menus are clear and easy to navigate. The level designs are fabulous, and each one has its own diversity and uniqueness. Some examples are Princess Peach's castle, Donkey Kong's Jungle, and Yoshi Park. Plus, Nintendo has their ace in the hole: the infamous "Nintendo charm" that no other company can emulate. Overall, this is a fabulous looking game, and the fact that Nintendo was in charge makes it that much better.

Sound (9/10): Again, this is another constant in any Nintendo game. Character voices and mannerisms are great. Yoshi, Mario, Peach, Luigi..... the whole gang sounds on spot. The music is a little unnoticeable, however, when you do hear it, it won't make you lose your mind. The only weakness to the sound is that the announcer, played by Lakitu, gets somewhat annoying. Some of my friends got irritated with the voice after a while, but personally, I didn't find it to be THAT daunting. In conclusion, the sound is another plus in the game.

Gameplay/Difficulty (10/10): This section of the game where I disagree with a great deal of the reviews out there. Many publications and websites say the gameplay is "Good, but not entirely polished" and that "it takes away from this being a great game." It seemed to me that the people reviewing the game didn't spend enough time practicing the basics of the game and just jumped right into the meat of the game.

On the contrary, the gameplay is outstanding, and with a little practice, can be extremely rewarding. The default controls work great, and don't take very long to get used to. Each portion of the game allows diversity. For example, you can tap the 'A' button to hit the ball, but as you hold it down, it adds more power and increases your chances to smashing the ball into the outfield. The same goes for pitching. you can tap 'A' to toss the ball towards the plate, but as you hold down the 'A' button, you can add a little more oomph to it. You can also hold down on the control stick to toss a change-up, or move the control stick to the left or right to toss a curveball.

Controlling runners on the base paths seemed to have been the biggest qualms with other people reviewing the game, but again, I think this is attributed to them not spending enough time with the game. By pressing the 'Y' button, you'll advance your runners, and pressing 'X' will retreat them. The runners will automatically advance to the next base if the ball's hit in the air, so make sure to click 'Y' so your runners halt, and it'll be easier for them to return to the base. Familiar to the Mario sports series are the "Star" abilities. Each character has a super moves that can give them the edge during the game. The team "captains" have a super pitch and a super swing that can easily take control to the game. To execute them, MAKE SURE you have a star, then hold the R button and click A. In the field, you can tap B to dash around, and use the control stick and A button to throw it to the corresponding base. While running around in the field, you can tap A, in order to make a diving catch. Some people

If you're having difficulty with the game, you can always go to the practice mode and hone your skills. I would highly suggest to spend some time practicing and getting familiar with the controls before you jump into the meat of the game (more on that in a minute.) Overall, the game plays well and is very well rounded in every aspect.

Replayability (10/10): Just like every other Mario Sports game, this MSB just oozes replay value. The meat of your single player experience will be spent in the Challenge mode. There, you'll pick a team captain and venture around, playing a variety of mini-games and challenging the other captains to friendly games. During the games, you'll have mini goals, such as to have 1-2-3 innings, striking out certain players, or getting big time hits. Through the challenge mode you'll make your way to the ultimate fight against Bowser's team. There's also some unlock able content, such as characters, baseball diamonds, and minigames.

You also have tons of other options at your disposal. You can play an exhibition game with a buddy or by yourself. You can choose from a huge list of Nintendo characters, all with their own unique stats. The mini games range anywhere from busting similar colored barrels, kinda like Tetris. There are base running games where you avoid chain chomps and try to collect coins, a homerun derby where you smash homeruns and try to create a spectacular fireworks show. There's also the Toy Field which plays a lot like a game that could be found in Mario Party. The best part is that all these mini games can have up to four players, so you can sit around burning time for hours with your buddies. With tons of unlockables and several different modes of play, you'll be spending dozens of hours with this game.

Final Verdict: If you're a fan of the Mario sports franchise, this game is an absolute must have. Also, if you're a baseball fan who's looking for a change of pace from the MVP or ESPN 2K baseball series, this game might be worth checking out. In the end, Mario Superstar Baseball looks great, sounds great, plays great, and offers a lot for any baseball fan looking to have a good time. This game would be an outstanding addition to your Gamecube library.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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