Mario Super Sluggers - WII - Preview
E3 2008 Preview
Baseball games are big business. With football taken out of the equation for most developers, many have turned their attention to the domination of other sports. Sony has been particularly successful in this area, having created several hits for PS2 as well as PSP and PS3. But while they and 2K Sports duke it out for baseball supremacy, smaller titles (such as the Backyard Baseball series) try to grab a piece of the market. Next month, Nintendo will jump in with their own attempt: Mario Super Sluggers. Starring the world's most well-known plumber, who has a face more recognizable than big celebrities (according to a recent survey), Mario Sluggers features the same kind of Mario-themed attractions that Nintendo brought to the world of tennis, golf, soccer, and gokarts.
The player lineup is enormous: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, at least one of Bowser's kids, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Shy Guy, the pink thing that shoots eggs out of its nose, and a cornucopia of others from the mushroom land. Not all of the environments are dressed in Goomba goodness, but you will see many that are fit for a King Koopa.
Mini-games make up the bulk of Mario Sluggers' entertainment, with the main game being an ultra-simplified, Mario-enhanced version of baseball. By far, the coolest pitch is the one that looks like a Bullet Bill. This ferocious move starts out really slow and suddenly charges toward its opponent. It's hard to predict when Bullet Bill will increase his speed, increasing the likelihood that a strike will happen.
Batting and pitching controls are tied to the Wii remote's motion functionality, bringing the player deeper into the game than if it had merely been a series of button taps. Thus far, neither mechanic is as good as Wii Sports Baseball. They work but won't blow anyone away as the Wii did back in 2006. While fielding is not a main gameplay component, there is a mini-game that's dedicated to this area of the sport. One to four players (AI or human) can compete to see who can hold onto the ball the longest. This begins with a pitch. When the ball is hit, you and two opponents will try to catch it. The player that grabs the ball must then work hard to keep it away from everyone else. If you manage to keep it the longest, it'll be your chance to bat next.
The main quest is a long series of baseball games with a story, colorful backgrounds and a great CG intro that plays when the game begins. How long of a series, you ask? We'll know very soon: Mario Super Sluggers ships on August 25.