As the genre has progressed through the generations, sports video games have become increasingly complex as they add more wrinkles to their team management tools and greater depth to their on-the-field action. Super Mega Baseball 4 harkens back to the sports games of the mid-90s, bringing streamlined gameplay and surprising levels of customization while introducing novel concepts. But although the throwback approach is good in many ways, it comes with some concessions.
Stepping onto the field in Super Mega Baseball 4 is a welcome affair. I love the arcade-style approach gameplay. Through rock-solid mechanics, you can blaze through a game in short order, feeling like you have a huge impact on every play. Metalhead Studios has done a great job of making it so striking out with a rubber feels as good as sending a ball flying from a batter’s box into the bleachers. Fielding leaves something to be desired, however, as diving seems impenetrable, and I sometimes struggled to predict where to position my outfielders.
Batters and fielders automatically lock onto the ball, while pitching and throwing are determined by quick minigames. Although it grew on me over the tens of games I played, I always wished I could switch to the pitching game, which requires you to hit a moving net with your target.
Each of these can be tuned by changing your “ego”, which is essentially your difficulty sliders, but I’m disappointed that none of these can be changed further. In fact, it’s one of my main complaints about the otherwise solid Super Mega Baseball 4: the options are so barebones that they essentially only allow you to tune the game’s audio and visuals, but not the gameplay itself. . If you want a different camera angle or want to change control schemes, you’re completely out of luck.
In contrast, when it comes to team management, Super Mega Baseball 4 shines perhaps brighter than any other sports game to date. With hundreds of fictional players and real legends, the game already features a respectable roster without an MLB license. However, I wanted to pay homage to the 90s era of baseball from which the game takes inspiration, and Super Mega Baseball 4 enabled me to do more than I wanted, allowing me to customize each player’s looks, gear, and gear. , animation, music were allowed to be adapted. and abilities, as well as my team’s uniforms and logo.
I put in the time to build my squad full of some stars that weren’t in the game, and when I was finished, the investment of time was worth it because I had a team full of my favorite players that I’m most passionate about Was on top of the game, which I could then take in every mode. The customization options in Super Mega Baseball 4 are nothing short of remarkable, and if you’re like me and take your virtual t-ball swing to games like Triple Play Gold Edition or Tony La Russa Baseball 2, you’ll absolutely love the roster controls. . Game options.
You can take on any team in one-off games, single seasons, bracket-style tournaments, online leagues, or my personal favorite mode: Franchise. I prefer the new shuffle draft system, which gives you eight cards from the players still available on the draft board. When you choose your player for that round, the remaining seven cards are returned to the deck, the other teams go through the process, and you’re dealt eight more cards until the roster is complete. It offers an enticing deckbuilding twist on the traditional drafting conventions of the game. On a few occasions, I’ve done shuffle drafts for no reason other than to see what kind of team I could come up with.
While in Franchise mode, you are presented with managerial decisions after each game. From which player gets the last pair of socks to who is to blame for a bad loss. While they sometimes get tiresome, these decisions affect player loyalty, which comes into play in the off-season when it comes time to re-sign them. Free agency plays a big role, as contracts only last one year, and I appreciate the ability to make one-on-one decisions on a per-off-season basis. However, I am disappointed by the lack of trading available. Even in older baseball video games, trading in long-form mode is one of my favorite activities, so its absence is a disappointment.
Despite some disappointing choices and feature exclusions, Super Mega Baseball 4 is a strong alternative to Sony’s annual sim-facing MLB game. Fans of retro-style arcade baseball games will find a lot to like, and roster customization enthusiasts have their new gold standard.