Review by WaterMario222
Mario, you're a superstar at Baseball
Remember those days when we would go to the local arcade, buy a soda, and play Pac-Man all day long? It was literally a quarter-spending adventure. As time moved on, a new character, whose name was Mario came along. Donkey Kong was yet another awesome 2-dimensional game which featured an ape named Donkey Kong throwing barrels at the red plumber. Now, some 20 years later, after two decades of Mario adventures ranging from pure platforming to the zany parties and racing, comes a title named Mario Superstar Baseball. This game was released in the year 2005 for the Nintendo Gamecube (but you probably know that already).
As always, Mario introduces lots of fun and innovative ideas to the national pastime of sports. In Exhibition mode, you can choose from up to 32 players, all revolving around the series. Some are unlockable, but you'll start out with most of them ready to play, such as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, DK, Bowser, and Wario. Each player has their own set of unique stats, decided by the physical characteristics of the player, previous game encounters that makes the player seem well-suited for a category, or by pure randomness. Bowser, for example, hits and pitches well, but lacks in the Running and Fielding departments. Those four stats make up a character's quality in a team. Yoshi is extremely good at running, Diddy is good at fielding, Waluigi is good at pitching, and Wario isn't exceptional at running. After choosing your 9 players, you'll be led into a new screen. Your captain ultimately doesn't play a major deciding role in this game, besides the team name revolving around that character, and getting first dibs on the player. Anyways, you'll be able to choose the batting order of your players according to how they suit you. You'll also be able to choose each of the nine positions in the game. Remember to consider both the stats and your personal preference in choosing who plays what. You'll have a choice of five different stadiums (six, including the unlockable one) featuring fields for Yoshi, Mario, Peach, DK, and Wario. You'll be able to choose how many innings you would like to play and a couple of other random miscellanious options.
The gameplay is simply (as you should have expected), baseball. In case you're sticky on the pastime, your main goal is to score as many points as you can as a batter, and to get your opponents out as a fielder/pitcher. The field is arranged in a diamond formation, a base at each corner. You must run those bases as fast as you can after hitting a ball with a bat that the pitcher throws to you. If you manage to reach the plate that you've started at (doesn't necessarily have to be in one batting turn) then you've made a run, and therefore score a point. That's about it. As for fielding, you'll need to try to catch balls, strike players out (by pitching a ball three times when it's above the plate, or when the batter swings at any pitch. You need to get three outs to rotate, and you'll bat again. After fielding and batting, you have completed an inning. This is continued until all of the innings are finished.
Of course, what's Mario Baseball, without some cool twists and turns throughout the gameplay? To start off, you'll be playing with Mario characters, on Mario based stages, and Mario gameplay. First off, there are team stars. Team stars are stars that you can use to add a twist to your pitches, or add a zing to your bat. By pressing certain buttons, you can do this at the cost of some Team Stars (maximum 5 at a time). To earn team stars back, you'll have to get the player out or get a hit when the opportunity exists. Plus, the fields you play on will most likely have some way of giving you Team Stars if you hit the ball in a certain place. Additionally, some characters have special, unique ways of catching the ball when it's a little too far out for them to regularly catch. Experiment with these special twists to find out which ones you like!
Challenge Mode is basically Story Mode, without a real story. You get to choose your captain, and then you'll start out with that character, and some other characters associated with that player. Together, your team has to travel (in a bird-eye's view) to different stadiums along the map and challenge those teams to a 3-inning game. In a game, you might sometimes find missions that you can complete for scout flags. If you do the necessary requirements, you earn that scout flag, if you don't, then you don't earn anything. If you acquire enough scout flags for each individual character for your opposing team, those characters will join you once you beat the team you're playing. If you manage to beat all 4 teams (Peach, Wario, Yoshi, Mario, DK, minus the one you're playing as), then a cool event will happen. On the map, you'll also have to chance to play mini-games, fun games that give you coins if you beat them, and take coins from you if you lose. And if you ever run into Koopa Kid on the map, you'll have to face him, if you win you gain 100 coins, if you lose..., well you lose half of your total coins. Coins can be used to purchase items at a shop located on the map.
The mini-games are quite simple and fun to play, each one tests your performance in Exhibition Mode in a different skill. You could be pitching, batting or maybe running. All of it depends on the mini-game you choose. These are for pure enjoyment, they ultimately build your Exhibition Mode skills, but there is no direct prize for completing them (other than a hearty congratulations).
Speaking of mini-games, there is one big mini-game (kinda ironic, huh) called Toy Field. You'll be batting and pitching in this wonderous field, running and fielding to get the chance to bat. It's sort of like Mario Party Baseball in a way, since you'll be gaining and losing coins as you play. I'll leave the secrets aside, but the game is very fun and innovative and features tons of surprises and random events.
The gameplay is great, and the graphics are too. Yes, the usual Mario-rendered graphics are back, but really, what kind of graphics do you want from a Mario game? Putting that behind, the graphics aren't too shabby, however, the depth and value of the characters could certainly be improved. The coloring is just right, and the emphasis on certain points is fabulous. The character designs are as juicy as ever, though some parts of the graphics look surprisingly fake and unrealistic. You've got a good chunk of graphics in this game, and it's dazzling at first, but you'll soon get used to it, and it'll be just another "old kid-friendly Mario graphics" tossed aside.
If I were to describe the music, I would say that it has a big range of music preferences. Some of the music is absurdly horrible, I can't help but screech at it for being so bad. On the other hand, some music pieces are so good, they make you feel that the world has changed and you're the one batting, and you're the one pitching. It's a scary level of depth, and it certainly provides many baseball experiences. The sound isn't too bad, either. Lakitu's voice (he's the umpire) is kind of scratchy and untoned, but some other characters, like the red plumber himself, sound great in this game. Nothing to get too excited about, although you really couldn't not get excited about hearing Bowser's voice in every game, could you?
This game lacks a real story, but certainly has a good level of replayability. It might not be as good as other games, but it's great to play with other friends. The problem is, Exhibition mode can only allow two people to play at any one sitting, so you don't have as much of that multiplayer madness that you used to have in other games such as Mario Kart and Mario Party. Toy Field and the mini-games can allow four players, of course. I just wish Nintendo thought up of some way to include four players in the real fun.
Overall, this game is definitely a game that Mario spectators will enjoy playing, simply because it has Mario in it. Other hardcore baseball players might not enjoy this as much, but the multiplayer is great, so any videogamer should give it a try. This game is simply a game that you might love to death or hate to death.
Scores and Factors:
Replayability: Above Average
Frustration: Way Below Average
Multiplayer: Above Average
Fun Factor: Very High
Best Part: Exhibition Mode
Worst Part: Lack of good Exhibition Mode multiplayer
Guilty Pleasure: Hitting your buddies with a wild curve when pitching
Buy If: You are a Mario fan
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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