Super Mega Baseball is indie developer Metalhead Software's first foray onto the video game scene, combining a friendly arcade look with a great simulation feel. That overall formula makes for a solid baseball game that enthusiasts (and their friends) will love. That is, unless your friends are on Microsoft consoles; like Sony’s own MLB The Show franchise, this is a PlayStation exclusive.
The charm of Super Mega Baseball is evident from the game's lineup selection: across the twelve available teams are soon-to-be legends like the power hitting 'Hammer Longballo', junk baller 'Hurley Bender', and personal favorite - catcher, Jacques O’Ften. It's a small aspect of the game - but a sign of what to expect overall - that almost every player coming to bat will boast a name sure to make the player crack a smile.
Luckily, under that veneer of jokes lies a truly great baseball game with an excellent control scheme (and a pitching mechanic that seems heavily based on that found in the Pro Baseball Spirits series. The controls themselves are intuitive: select the desired pitch, then choose where the pitch will start. Tap a face button for either a Normal Pitch or a Power Pitch, and the challenge becomes lining up the ball with the desired target while in flight.
Hitting is also easy to pick up: for a Contact Swing, simply match up the batting cursor with the pitch indicator and press X at the right moment. Power Swings are done the same way, but requiring players to 'load up' the power by holding a button until the pitch is in the desired zone, while still matching up the cursor and pitch indicator.
The real genius of the game comes in the Ego system. Rather than having a traditional range of difficulty settings, Super Mega Baseball’s Ego setting goes from 0 (Easy) to 99 (Impossible) and can be set for both players individually. What this controls is essentially the speed of the assists in the game; on a low Ego setting, the CPU will do the majority of the work matching up the indicators and cursors for you. While on a high setting, the the cursor might even work against you, forcing you to manually overcome it.
The Ego system is a great idea for a new twist on difficulty, and works perfectly for giving two players of separate skill levels an even playing field. Now parents and children, siblings or friends can play extremely competitive games against each other without either having to hold back. Fair warning: the high Ego settings are not for the faint of heart (after talking with the developers, even they haven't been able to win a game above 93).
Super Mega Baseball puts those systems to work in two different game modes: Exhibition and Season. As sports game veterans would expect, Exhibition allows players to try their hands at a 1-9 inning game at any of the game's four stadiums. Season mode opens either a Short (16 games), Medium (32 games) or Long (48 games) season, also adding unlockable players upgrade slots that can be filled with boosts acquired from hiring staff.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the game (highly recommended before starting a season) is spending some time in the Customize menu, changing up the names, appearances and even disposition of all the players.
The only real missing piece from Super Mega Baseball is the lack of online play. Local multiplayer is limited to four people (two on each team) however, Share Play on the PS4 has seemed to be a viable option in our playing experience. But your results may vary depending on you and your opponents network connections.
In the end, the game perfectly blends a fun look and great baseball mechanics that can be played by everyone. The Ego system opens the game up to being a suitable 'child’s first baseball game', while also presenting a welcome change for the most hardcore simulation baseball players. We can’t recommend it highly enough.
Super Mega Baseball is available now on PS3 and PS4 (Cross-Buy) from the US PlayStation Store for $19.99. It will be available on the UK store as well, but a release date has not been announced.