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Super Mega Baseball 4

Super Mega Baseball 4

Written by Jason Dailey on 6/2/2023 for PC   PS4   PS5   XONE  
More On: Super Mega Baseball 4

Sometimes it is easy to forget that, above all else, video games are supposed to be fun. In the modern era of gaming, as our preferred platforms have grown increasingly powerful, we tend to focus on things like graphical resolution, ray-tracing, frames per second, map size, realistic physics, and so on. Not that those things don’t contribute to whether a game is good or bad (they certainly can and do), but sometimes they cause us to not see the forest for the trees. Though it is no technical slouch, Super Mega Baseball 4 chooses not to focus on all of that stuff, and that is a large part of what makes it great – it just wants you to have fun playing baseball.

Don’t take that the wrong way; the game looks good and runs smoothly, but it’s an arcade baseball sim-lite with a focus on fun factor. As someone who ranks baseball pretty far down on my list of “sports I will actually watch”, and someone who typically does not play baseball games, it hit all the right spots for me. This is a baseball game for everyone, from the baseball-averse (cough) to those that skew hardcore; Super Mega Baseball 4 casts a wide net and does well to scratch an itch for all types of players.

If, like me, you’ve never dabbled in the Super Mega Baseball series, understand that it sits somewhere in the middle of the sports game spectrum between full-on arcade titles like NFL Blitz and more faithful simulations like the NBA 2K series. It walks the line well, blending cartoonish caricatures of players with extremely malleable gameplay that can be tough-as-nails hard, or “just let me hit dingers” easy. I can’t remember playing a sports game that gets as in the weeds from a difficulty standpoint as Super Mega Baseball, and I think it is a major ingredient of its secret sauce. Difficulty, or Ego as the game calls it, can scale from zero to 99, with it defaulting to 10 or “casual” level. Combined with the game’s simple yet familiar control scheme, you can really have whatever type of baseball experience you want, regardless of skill level.

At the casual difficulty, I found myself getting around 30 hits a game and winning by double-digit runs. I cranked it up to 35, which is between “tough” and “serious”, and that seemed to be the sweet spot for me. Be warned, however, that when playing online the Ego level is automatically set at 50 for many modes, which means that your experience will depend largely on player skill – both yours and your opponents. That’s not atypical of the genre, but I didn’t want you to leave here thinking you could just tweak some settings and expect to cheese everyone online. Speaking of which, the online functionality works great, virtually mirroring the offline experience, with no connectivity or lag issues during my time testing it.

From a gameplay perspective, if you’ve played a baseball game in the last decade it’ll be like riding a bike. On PlayStation, Cross is a normal contact swing, Square is a power swing, and Circle bunts. The left stick aims your swing in the strike zone, you press a face button when the pitch arrives, and boom goes the dynamite. Pitching is just as straightforward, with pitches selected by the right stick, aimed with the left and thrown by pressing Cross. You can also throw a power pitch for any type by pressing and holding Square and releasing it when the time is right. Fielding is – you guessed it – simple. Throwing to each base is the same corresponding face button it has been for years on nearly every controller. Even if this is your first baseball video game ever, it doesn’t get much simpler than this, and I really appreciated the game’s straightforward nature. With that said, the lack of any overt visual indicator for fly balls is rather annoying and seems like a glaring omission when everything else about the gameplay is so user friendly. I regularly goofed on routine plays in the outfield until I discovered that I could just let the computer catch them for me. That’s not my natural inclination for a sports game, but since the ball’s shadow is all I had to rely on, I didn’t know what else to do.

Super Mega Baseball’s distilled, arcade approach should not be mistaken for the shell of a proper baseball game – quite the contrary, in fact. I was surprised by how many modes are featured in this $50 package, as well as the level of depth that some modes include. These include Exhibition, Pennant Race, Online Leagues, Franchise, Single Season, Elimination Tournaments, and Shuffle Draft. Some modes can be played in two-player local or online co-op (including Franchise, which is a nice touch) and it works quite well in my experience. On offense, one player controls the batter while the other controls baserunners, and on defense one handles pitching duties while the other takes care of fielding.

As for the modes, Pennant Race is an online mode that has you play five games to determine your skill level and then places you in a division with similarly skilled opponents. From there you play and try to climb divisions, which is a bit like FIFA’s online seasons, if you’re familiar. Online Leagues let you play multiple seasons in either a public or private league, which I am looking forward to checking out, but admittedly, it is hard to put a mode like that through its paces in a pre-release environment. Shuffle Draft is essentially a fantasy draft mode where you select a team from the entire roster of players in a draft format. As I usually do in sports games, I gravitated towards Franchise mode. I was curious what an arcade baseball game like Super Mega Baseball could do with the mode, and it did not disappoint.

Like many sports titles, Franchise mode is the marquee mode in Super Mega Baseball. It allows you to play multiple seasons with the team of your choice, with more than 30 teams on offer. However, this is not MLB The Show, which is to say don’t expect any real-life MLB teams here. Instead, there are 20 teams full of created players with names like Hammer Longballo and Joseph Broseph, which falls right in line with the quirkiness and charm of the game. There are also eight teams made up of former players including legends like Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, in addition to recent-ish players such as David Ortiz. Finally, there several teams comprised of a mix of both, but with EA Sports content creators thrown in to the pool, if that’s your cup of tea.

Regardless of which team you choose (or create), the first thing you’ll notice is that every player looks like Big Head mode has overtaken their entire body, which should indicate right off the bat (pardon the pun) what type of experience you’re in for. Players flex when they come up to bat, umpires call balls and strikes in a slapstick manner, and my ballpark (Red Rock Park) had a truck driving up and down its centerfield rock wall backdrop. In short, this game is a hoot.

After you select a team (I went with the Rakers), you can hop right into the action, but I would encourage you to explore your roster a bit, because while the game’s arcade veneer lulls you into thinking there is really nothing to it, there is more here than meets the (batter’s) eye. Things remain relatively simply from a player and team management standpoint, but there are layers of nuance you can engage with that make sports game nerds like myself feel right at home. Player ratings are simplified into bar graphs for skills like fielding, speed, swing power, and swing contact, but each player also has traits that give them buffs and nerfs such Bad Ball Hitter or Noodle Arm. So for instance, if you give up lots of fly balls, you might not want to play Johnny Damon in the outfield because his Noodle Arm trait means that his throwing speed will be lowered if you don’t hit maximum power on the throwing meter. Your team also has a chemistry rating, which is determined by the types of players on your team. Team chemistry provides a boost to player traits and reduces the penalties of negative traits, with each player having their own chemistry type. Having more of a certain type will give you bigger buffs and nerfs to traits, which allows you to cater to your strengths and weaknesses.

Franchise mode also lets you sign and release players, and develop them over multiple seasons through Player Development Opportunities. These PDOs are stat and trait boosts that can be purchased with surplus payroll money you have in the team budget. They rotate in and out on a week-to-week basis for randomly selected players. There are also Manager Moments that affect a player’s loyalty, which ultimately determines if they re-sign with your team or not for the following year. These moments often left me with a grin, because they are just as silly in tone as the rest of the game. On one occasion, I had to choose a player to refill the team’s sunscreen dispenser, which gave that player a severe loyalty penalty. I know I’ve spent a lot of time discussing Franchise mode, but beyond simply killing time with one-off games in Exhibition mode or online, I believe it is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time.

I want to reiterate that this is a baseball game for everyone that runs the gamut. Yes, the Franchise mode is as deep as you want it to be, but Super Mega Baseball is still a light-hearted arcade title at its core. There are no micro-transactions, no card packs, no season pass – just baseball. There’s not even a commentary team – merely a tongue-in-cheek public address announcer that helps provide that comedic edge. Simply put, it’s just a fun game to play, and that’s what games are all about, right? It even let me edit the sound effects that played in my stadium so that when I struck out an opposing batter it played a fart noise. I also hit a pitcher with a comebacker in an area of the body that knocked him to the ground kicking and screaming, if you know what I mean – all of which is brilliant comedy in the eyes of this adult child.

Super Mega Baseball 4 is a fun arcade baseball sim-lite that manages to cater to baseball game fans of every persuasion. It trades photo-realistic player models for big-headed caricatures, and simulation baseball for scaled-down arcade action, but glues it all together with a surprising bit of depth that sports game fans will appreciate. If you just want to turn your brain off and hit dingers for a couple of hours, you can certainly do that. On the other hand, if you’d rather build and develop a team over multiple seasons for weeks and months to come, Super Mega has that in its repertoire too.

Super Mega Baseball 4 is simply a blast to play. It’s an arcade baseball sim-lite with a focus on fun factor, and it includes a surprising amount of depth that will appeal to a wide range of baseball game fans. If you’re looking for something more laid back than a full-on baseball sim, but also not mindless button-mashing, this is that game.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Jason has been writing for Gaming Nexus since 2022. Some of his favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports, RPGs, shooters, and simulators. His favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2, logging nearly 1,000 hours in Rockstar's Wild West epic. Jason's first video game system was the NES, but the original PlayStation is his first true video game love affair. Once upon a time, he was the co-host of a PlayStation news podcast, as well as a basketball podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @TheDualSensePod, or check out my YouTube channel.

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