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Game Review: Mario Super Sluggers
An article by Jomingo
3 June '09
That Mario and his sport games. He's played almost every sport out there, and Baseball is no exception. This is his second baseball game, and it easily has the best Donkey Kong representation ever seen in a Mario sport title.
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So when you first start off the game, you're probably going to want to go to the Challenge Mode, which is this game's story mode. What might surprise you is that, unlike most other Mario sport games, this one actually has a story. Bowser Jr. is trying to take over every baseball park in the new Baseball Kingdom, and pretty much ruining everybody's day. Unlike in the first Mario baseball game, Mario Superstar Baseball, this story mode only let's you play as Mario(at first). From there you can go to any of the 5 main areas, where you can gain the ability to play as any of the 4 other team captains; Yoshi, Peach, Donkey Kong, and Wario. Each one of them has different abilities, which you will need to take advantage of in order to unlock every character. Another difference here is that in the first one, in order to unlock characters you must challenge a team to a game of baseball and then do different challenges to persuade members of that team to join yours. In this game, you actually explore each area in which that team's baseball field lies. Along the way, you will still challenge other characters to convince them to join your team, only this time you do one quick challenge at a time instead of spreading them throughout a game of baseball. There's also many mini-games and puzzles that allow you to get characters indirectly. From time to time, Bowser's various minions will challenge you, though they don't join your team directly afterward.
So let's talk about DK's part in the story mode, shall we? When you visit DK Jungle, Donkey Kong's area of the game, you first help Donkey Kong find a Barrel Cannon to blast you over a stream. Afterward, you will help the DK cast with various problems, unlocking the crew in the process. These challenges include: repairing an ancient stone tablet, saving Tiny Kong from the clutches of Bowser Jr., and helping Funky Kong so he can go back to running the shop. Also, once you've defeated 4 different colored Kritters, you can challenge King K. Rool himself, convincing him and the Kritters to join your team in the process! The only real down side to DK's cast of characters in this game is the inclusion of Baby Donkey Kong, making his first appearance in a Mario sport game, and his only appearance since his debut in Yoshi's Island DS. Though, the fact that babies and their future selves appearing in the same game (and thus causing a time paradox), has never daunted the Mario cast before. Besides that, they don't really ever acknowledge Baby DK in the game, so it's not too big a deal. The fact is, that this game doubles the amount of DK characters appearing in any Mario sport game to date, bringing the total to 8 characters, not including the four different colored Kritters! Not to mention that most of the characters personalities are pretty much intact, I mean, Funky Kong uses a surf board for a bat! If that's not a great idea, I don't know what is. Overall, if you are disappointed with this game, it won't be because of the story mode, or lack of representation.
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Where the game does fall short though is the gameplay. Don't get me wrong. With all the changes and new concepts, they certainly tried to improve this one. They've added the ability to see the camera from behind the point of view of the pitcher while pitching. They've added a new mechanic called "close plays", meaning that if there is a really close play between a runner and basemen, then the one who hits the correct button quicker will take the play. Though, most of the changes have to do with the already innovative Chemistry system. If you don't already know, in this game and it's prequel, certain characters have good chemistry with other characters, which will improve their throwing and batting when they are close together. They've added a considerable amount to this concept, including: Buddy throws(which allows you to do a speedy throw in field when a certain move is done between two fielders); the Buddy Jump(which causes you to do an incredibly high jump to catch a would be homerun); and even items(which appear when you are batting with a buddy on deck). So there's no doubt that they tried to add a lot to the gameplay, but the problem is that the overall experience is still lousy. The already awkward control scheme from the first game is complicated further by the use of Wii motion sensing. The motion control is very unresponsive, often delaying you a few precious seconds and costing you the play. And the unresponsive motion control almost kills the game, as a lot of the controls are motion based. Pitching, batting, throwing, and running all require you to shake the remote. Likewise, you don't even need to swing the remote like a bat or like a pitcher. You can get the exact motion out of a swift tap against your lap. In fact, it will often not even take notice if you make a wide sweeping motion like swinging a bat. These problems, and the incredibly good enemy A. I. make the more difficult parts of the story mode almost unbearable.
There are numerous other improvements, such as a "day and night" system, which changes the obstacles on a stage during different times of the day. Also, certain stages are only accessible during the day, and vice versa. Speaking of stages, there are 9 all new stages in this game, one for every team captain and three others for a few of the sub captains. It's very disappointing that they didn't give a stage to all the sub-captains, as a Diddy Kong stage would have been interesting. The graphics are surprisingly great and considerably better than those of Mario Kart Wii, especially during the cut scenes. Heck, I'd go as far to say that they are on par with Super Mario Galaxy in some places. There isn't any online play, which is a downside but definitely not surprising considering Nintendo's shaky history with online gaming.
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Overall, it's a fun game, but the numerous control difficulties make this a very average game. It is easily worth a rent, as it can be pretty much completed in one lonely weekend. If you're a fan of the first game, you'll like this. If you like most Mario sport games then this is worth the buy for the DK characters alone. An unbiased review would have to give this a 2 but the DK fan in me is forced to give it a 3 based on the sole fact of this being the most admirable attempt at capturing the DK series in a while, and it's not even a DK game; a feat that's is certainly not expected from a Mario sport game.
- by Jomingo -
This article was written by a DKC Atlas Forum staff member. All opinions expressed within this article are those of the writer, and are not necessarily shared by DKC Atlas, or the DKC gaming community.