What Mario Super Sluggers lacks in online and single-player, it makes up for with depth, accessibility, and Funky Kong’s surfboard.
While there seems to be an inordinate amount of hate for this game since it is one of Nintendo’s titles for core gamers, Mario Super Sluggers features much of the same depth and accessibility of similar titles like Mario Strikers Charged. However, it lacks online play and any semblance of a Season mode, something that Mario Strikers Charged had a year ago. Despite these glaring drawbacks, Mario Super Sluggers is undeniably fun.
The game offers three different control schemes: Wii Remote, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and Wii Remote on its side. Similar to EA’s All-Play mode, the Wii Remote is the simplified version of Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and they both offer a good use of the Wii Remote’s capabilities. Swinging and pitching are both done in a similar manner, pulling back the remote and then swinging it forward. While it doesn’t offer 1:1 control like Wii Sports, the mechanics of the game work very well; it’s doubtful that the inclusion of 1:1 control would make the game any better.
There are some minor control issues, mostly surrounding the fact that you have to shake the Remote to move faster to the ball when fielding, and you also shake the Remote to throw. Sometimes this causes you to throw inadvertently. The third method of control, Wii Remote on its side, suffers from the same problem that it had in Super Smash Bros Brawl - too many commands for too few buttons.
Challenge Mode is the so-called meat of the game. Being the lone structured single-player mode, Challenge Mode ushers in a story about how Bowser and Bowser Jr. have taken over the Baseball Kingdom. Consisting of a series of challenges that help you with the game's fundamentals, you visit five locations where you must save and recruit up to 58 characters in order to beat Bowser in a 5-inning game of baseball. While the challenges really do help you improve your playing skills, the mode gets tedious and only consists of three games of actual baseball. Mario Super Sluggers’ exclusion of a Season mode is a big disappointment.
The lack of a Season mode – and for that matter, online play - is made even more regrettable by the fact that multiplayer is a blast. Round up an able-bodied friend and Mario Super Sluggers jumps into the top-tier of arcade sports multiplayer. You and your friend can each craft a team from the 71 characters available (although that number is a little inflated, since some of them are color swaps), and jump into a game in any one of the nine stadiums available. This is where the depth and accessibility I mentioned really shines. Super Sluggers’ gameplay is pretty much the perfect marriage between baseball and Mario. There are also a bunch of mini-games, including the old favorite from Mario Superstar Baseball, Toy Field. They provide a nice distraction, but none of them are that much fun.
Mario Super Sluggers has fantastic gameplay and well-executed controls. However, it is very similar to its predecessor, Mario Superstar Baseball. I recommend it highly to anyone that missed the first game, but anyone who played the GameCube original to completion won’t see much of a difference.