IGN: Mario Super Sluggers an “all-star effort”

495_msspreview.jpgAfter prematurely slamming Mario Super Sluggers for weeks, IGN has posted two hands-on previews of the Japanese version.

From IGN AU’s Monday article:

“Namco Bandai has clearly done a great job of re-imagining the Nintendo world as this place called Baseball Island. It looks as good as any first-party Wii effort so far, moving at 60 frames-per-second, and it’s easy to pick up and play.”

Mario Super Sluggers offers players three control schemes. First is a Wii Sports-esque, casual-friendly scheme that allows players to use the Wii Remote alone by shaking and swinging to perform every action in the game. As with the baseball portions of Wii Sports, according to IGN, this cedes much of the control to the CPU.

In accordance with the Wii Sports legacy, batting and pitching is achieved through realistic motion control. Players need simply swing and throw as they would in a real game of baseball.

225_luigibaseball.jpgExperienced Wii gamers looking for greater control can attach a nunchuck to control character movement with the analog stick. This also allows for button combinations in conjunction with motion controls, which enable players to pull off super swings, bunts and even different pitches. As a third control option, players can hold the Wii Remote horizontally, NES-style, for a motion-free experience.

Mario Super Sluggers offers a single-player challenge mode similar to that in the GameCube original Mario Superstar Baseball. Players must build their team from a roster of zeroes to a group of heroes by moving around the map, this time showcasing Baseball Island, and challenging other marquee Mario characters. By achieving certain objectives during the game, players can convince certain opponents to join their team. Because players are moving across the map, conquering opponents and stealing their players, challenge mode essentially becomes a game of baseball conquest.

There is also an exhibition mode for free play and character selection and a self-explanatory baseball mini game mode. Finally, fans of Mario Superstar Baseball will be pleased to know the challenging toy field mode has returned for Mario Super Sluggers, a competitive four-player game that somewhat combines the ideas of baseball and pinball. Players try to hit the ball to specific parts of the field to earn points, but if another player fields their hit, the batter earns no points and loses their at-bat. Swing timing is crucial on the toy field, one of the game’s biggest multiplayer draws.

Unfortunately, the game does lack online multiplayer. How Namco Bandai could develop a game of this nature and not include an online mode is simply beyond my understanding.

mssbanana.jpgMario Strikers Charged and Mario Kart Wii added more items to the mix, and Mario Super Sluggers will do the same. In a first for the series, players will be able to use classic Mario items during gameplay to obstruct their opponents’ fielders. The original game’s power-up pitches and swings have also returned.

Like in Mario Superstar Baseball, players choose a team captain from a list of chief Mario characters; Mario, Luigi, Peach and the usual suspects are included. Remaining positions are filled from a roster of Mario series B-listers including Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, King Boo, Boo, Toadette, Toad, Toadsworth, Piranha Plant, Paragoomba, Goomba, Pianta, Koopa Troopa, Magikoopa, Lakitu, Monty Mole, Koopa Paratroopa, Shy Guy, Dry Bones, and Noki. Players can also choose to use their system’s Mii characters on the field, as well.

Mario Super Sluggers released Thursday in Japan, and a North American release is scheduled for Aug. 25.