I’m rarely jealous of Xbox owners, but when I read they were getting the brand new Super Mega Baseball 2 for free I have to admit that it felt different. I had heard excellent things about the first game, though I hadn’t played it. Its more arcade-like approach to the sport, both in gameplay and appearance, felt like a good fit for someone like me who’s not that into the real sport and its stats, but has played videogame versions of the sport for ages.
What’s more is that it feels like there should be a great place for a game like this. MLB The Show is an excellent game, but it’s the NBA 2K of baseball in how well it recreates the sport. The most recent NBA Live showed that there’s room for a more casual approach, just like Everybody’s Golf and Everybody’s Tennis have done on Playstation. Luckily, even though it’s not free for subscribers like it is on Xbox, Super Mega Baseball 2 is still here on PS4.
While Super Mega Baseball 2 is definitely more arcade-like than MLB The Show, first appearances are also a little deceptive in this case. With the right settings, the game can turn into a pretty serious baseball sim and there’s nothing like NBA Jam’s “on fire” mechanism either. At its most basic settings, Super Mega Baseball 2 is very accessible and fun for novices, but it never goes for that “over the top” that you might have expected judging from the game’s graphics.
Instead, you can ramp up the difficulty settings using something called “ego” – which works a little like the sliders in NBA 2K in that they let you adjust various parts of your gameplay individually. Love the fielding but having a tough time getting hits? You can make that part a little easier while keeping the same fielding experience. It’s a very dynamic difficulty level system, and allows you to grow as you get better too – you’ll be rewarded with higher scores at the end of a game when you play with higher ego levels. You also have the ability to select how much control you want over your swing, which drastically impacts the difficulty of hitting as well – especially at first.
Where Super Mega Baseball 2 does differ from MLB The Show is in the faster flow that it seems to have. There are fewer trimmings to the presentation, which speeds up the action and makes for a better “pick up and play” experience than MLB does. Of course, this is a direct result both of gameplay design choices (there is no play by play commentary) as well as the lack of a proper Major League Baseball license in the game. I’m sure this will be a big minus for serious baseball fans, but casual players are probably happy to know that the lack of a license also means they’re not paying for a license – Super Mega Baseball 2 might not be free on Playstation, but it’s about half the price of its competitor.
Super Mega Baseball 2, above all, is designed to be a fun and accessible option for casual baseball fans. Its cartoony visual style fits with this perfectly, and the versatile gameplay tweaks ensure that even novices and families can enjoy this game. What’s especially fun is the ability to drop in and out of local coop games. It’s not as casual as you’d think though, because there are some surprisingly deep elements to the game. Players build and lose momentum based on their performance in games, so if you strike out a couple of times it hurts morale. You can also get slightly injured mid-game, which directly affects a player’s stats. It’s all these little touches that elevate the game to something more than an arcade-like baseball experience. There are a few shortcomings in terms of audiovisual presentation, but the gameplay is rock solid. Xbox owners sure are getting a great deal this month, though PS4 and PC players can be glad they too have access to this fun new sports game.