Baseball, the American version of rounders with way more rules and regulations, has always garnered my interest. I’ve never really understood the terminology used within the sport or exactly why it’s so popular but when it comes to video games you can often get by without much knowledge. Why am I telling you this? Because there’s a new game on the block, Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings and it looks to have taken the not so serious route which could be ideal for the casual market.
Looks can be deceiving though; this isn’t just a silly baseball game using oddly designed characters that’d be better suited to a cartoon. No, this is so much more. The developers, Metalhead have created a finely balanced baseball offering that sits on the metaphorical fence between realism and light-heartedness. Thus meaning that, although visually it’s rather comical, it still manages to bring in some decent physics for the actual gameplay.
There are just the two modes to experience this in though and they are Exhibition and Season. Exhibition is just the standard one-off game against the computer or with up to three of your friends playing locally in 2v2, 2v1 or 2v0. You’ll find nothing in the form of online play which is a real shame in an era where online is the norm.
Season mode may lack in the way that you can’t tackle the league with a friend but it makes up for this when you realise the amount of detail included in relation to the stats and attributes. Across a season it’ll keep a log of Runs Batted In, Hits, Home Runs and Strikeouts to name just a few. Whereas the attributes covered include fielding, power, contact, velocity and junk. All that probably sounds like mostly useless jargon, it did to me, however Metalhead have explained it all in their How To Play section where I also actually learned about baseball abbreviations that had always previously gone over my head.
Back to the Season mode itself and the length of an actual season comes in three duration options – Short, Medium and Long, where the medium still lasts a rather lengthy 33 games not including playoffs. It’s enjoyable facing off against a variety of teams in the league, each with their own strengths such as being power hitters or pitching experts. Anything of note that you do during a game will earn Starpoints towards your overall player level and by increasing these you’ll unlock things like better staff to hire to help boost player’s attributes. I do have one issue with this though, it doesn’t tell you how many Starpoints are needed to level up and even when I had earned 30,000+ which was a career best, I only went up one level with none of the Starpoints carrying over.
One of the most unique features of Super Mega Baseball is its 99 levels of difficulty, known as the Ego levels. Ranging from 1 to 99, with the lowest number being the easiest difficulty, it allows the gamer to start off where they feel is the most comfortable for their ability and then increase/decrease it as much or as little as you wish to over time. I did try Ego 99 and it’s literally impossible, so when you can even hit a ball on this one then you must be a legend of the game!
Aesthetically it bears a similar, fun look to the baseball game found in the original Wii Sports but thankfully this uses a controller and has far more dimensions to its gameplay. You can even customise all the players on the strangely named teams (Sirloins, Beewolves etc.), meaning all your family and friends can have a character or you could even change the player names to other sportsmen and women; no one has to be left out as there are a mixture of males and females on each team with quite a few options for changing their looks.
Considering it isn’t a sport I’m overly familiar with, I took to Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings like a duck to water. Thanks to the Ego levels, the controls which are simple enough for a casual gamer and a How to Play section that covers pretty much everything you’ll need to know without being a chore to learn, this is extremely easy to pick up and play. It’s pretty impressive that a game can offer a multitude of pitching options and great physics when batting whilst making it accessible to a mass market. Kudos to Metalhead.
Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings on Xbox One almost hits a homerun but slightly stutters on its way to third base due to a lack of an online side. If that doesn’t bother you then it’s a must buy!