Review by Game Reviewer

Reviewed: 09/01/05

A new pastime for Gamecuber owners

Mario has been into the world of sports many times before. He played golf and Tennis on the Nintendo 64, and now he plays baseball, Americas favorite pastime. Apple pie and hot dogs and Chevrolet, everything that pretty much screams "America" as much as you can get. Mario has finally broken his way into the sport, and it's not a disappointment.

The first mode is Exhibition mode. This is the mode you can choose from up to 32 unique characters from various Mario games. Some characters include Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Bowser, Diddy Kong, Wario, and Yoshi. There are many characters to choose from, and you get to choose your opponents team as well as your own unless playing against a friend. Playing against a friend is much more fun than playing a computer in exhibition, but playing a computer is good practice.

There are six stadiums that you can choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Most of the stadiums have obstacles in them that can hinder your out fielding, and even your hitting. When I first learned of this, I was turned away from the game. I was hoping for a somewhat realistic Baseball game, with a couple of Mario elements. I was wrong to be turned away. The special elements add a comical value to the old fashion game of baseball. Barrels may hit your outfielders, or the Wind may blow your ball in a different direction. These elements add a lot of fun to the game, especially in multiplayer. It also gives the game the Mario feel that it needed.

In Exhibition, you choose your team captain, and from that your team. You may choose from all the unlocked characters that you have for your team. Captains have special moves that they may use when they pitch, or when they hit. This option may be turned off. But these special shots aren't just given away, you have to earn them as you play.

Each team consists of 9 players. A pitcher a shortstop and a catcher. Three Baseman. And three outfielders. Exhibition mode is played much the way the rest of the game plays. Like real baseball, you play through innings, each inning lasts until both sides have had three outs. You may however choose the number of innings in a game, having as few as one, or as many as nine.

As in real baseball, your team will have to hit, and your team will have to field as well. Both sides are played very differently, but fairly easily. Neither side is too difficult to learn over a couple of games.

Hitting the ball is very easy. You can hit A, to make a light hit. Hold A to charge up, and then swing. Or you may hit B to bunt it. To make hitting easier, you can turn on the "Easy Hitting" option, which will tell you where the bat is going to hit. You can use you star powers while batting to make it difficult for your opponent to catch or find the ball.

Base Running isn't much more difficult. You can tap B to make your character go faster. You hit Y to advance a base. You can hit X to make them stop advancing, and you can also hit X to make them return to a base. You can also steal bases in this manner. The timing in the game is a bit slow, and sometimes you'll think you can make it, but won't be able to.

The other side of the ball, fielding is your defense against an opponent. Like batting, it has two distinct parts to it. Pitching, and Fielding.

Anybody on your team may pitch the ball. You can change pitchers whenever you like. Some people pitch to certain characters easier or harder, depending on their relationship. To pitch, you can press A, or hold A. If you time your pitch right, it'll go super fast. You can use Star Power while pitching to make a pitch nearly impossible to hit. You can also hit B, to keep the runners in check.

Fielding is somewhat more difficult than the other parts of Mario Superstar Baseball. You'll find yourself catching a lot of balls pretty easily. But at the same time, you'll easily mistake a caught ball, for one that is a fair ball. Of course it'll say if it's fair, or out on the screen for you. It's harder to chase a ball that's been hit wild, a lot of characters run slow, and a lot of them throw to the infield slow too. Throwing to a base is easy, just hit A, and press the direction corresponding with the base you want to throw to (1st Base is Right, 2nd Base is up, 3rd base is left, and Home Base is Down).

The game will go on until a winner has been decided. When you first play, you may find yourself lacking in number of hits, but with practice (like with any game, and real baseball) you'll improve drastically.

The game also offers other modes. The next mode I will explain is challenge mode.

Bowser thinks he's the biggest, and baddest baseball player around. He's so confident in his skills, that he has challenged Mario and his friends to a game of baseball. Of course, before they can get there, they must face off against each other.

In challenge mode you may choose one of five captains, and their preset teams. Don't like their preset teams? Well you can change them by earning players from other teams that you beat. You must impress your opponents, by beating them, and performing certain challenges. Various mini games which will be explained later are also available. You can earn coins by doing these mini games, and beating Baby Bowser who has a different type of game altogether.

In Challenge mode you may purchase items that will enhance your characters. You have to buy their star specials to be able to use them, but you may also buy items that increase the number of home runs you hit, items that increase the number of hits you get, and even an item that increases your speed. Each item may be purchased at the shop. All non-star items only last for one game, and you cannot have more than one item at a time. The game against the teams themselves work much like exhibition,only the settings are preset, and you only have the characters you've earned to play with.

The Mini games that you play in Challenge mode, can also be accessed from the main menu. Each mini game is much like the mini games from Mario Party. They include wall ball, a game where you must pitch into a wall, and the type of wall you hit determines the number of coins you hit. Be careful though, hit a bowser wall, and you'll lose some coins. Another mini game, is Bob-omb derby. You must hit the bombs into the sky to create fireworks. Hitting the home runs in Bob-omb derby can be easy, so long as you can hit the bombs themselves. Another mini game is Chain Chomp Sprint, where you must run around the bases, similar to the way you would in Exhibition and Challenge mode, collecting gems. But if Chain Chomp wakes up, and you're still moving, he's going to get you out. These are just a couple of mini games that Mario Superstar Baseball offers.

The other type of mode that Mario Superstar Baseball offers, is Toy Field. This is a strange mode, where four people play, three on defense, and one on offense. Each player is playing individually, and are trying to earn the most coins.

The Defense earns coins for strikeouts, and caught fly balls. The Pitcher is the next to bat, unless he pitches four balls.

The Batter gets coins based on where the ball lands. There are seven different types of spot the ball can land on, earning the batter up to 40 coins in a turn.

You may set toy field to a number of turns, and is the only four player mode the game offers.

Other than these modes, Mario Superstar Baseball also offers a practice mode for you to improve your skill.

The game is incredibly addictive, and can be played for hours upon hours with friends, or alone. It's easily worth a pick up if you see it, and enjoy other Mario Sports games, or Baseball games. It's a fun game, that offers a good time. It may not be as realistic as other baseball games, but it has a fun factor, that not all of them can offer as easily. Nintendo has really outdone themselves again, showcasing a fantastic game for the gamecube.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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