EA’s acquisition of Metalhead Software was essentially writing on the walls for the Super Mega Baseball series; with the studio under EA, the arcade baseball series had a lot of room to grow and reach a larger audience. While not every studio purchase is the right decision, it certainly feels like it was in this case.
The Super Mega Baseball series has lasted a decade, providing one of the best baseball experiences outside MLB The Show. I find the arcade-style gameplay more to my liking, and while it feels like we’re getting that plus a more simulated approach to gameplay, this iteration of the series feels great and plays well.
Super Mega Baseball 4 expands the series and doubles down on fun
At its core, Super Mega Baseball 4 is still the same arcade-style baseball game, more concerned with quick, fun matches than the detailed and often lengthy games seen in MLB The Show. That’s not to say you’re getting a simple experience, as there’s still surprising depth behind the cartoonish visuals and exaggerated animations.
With the apparent increase in the budget came some significant new features, much more noticeable in the visuals and licensing aspects than in the gameplay itself. The big news for this Super Mega Baseball 4 is the inclusion of baseball legends in the previously entirely fictional cast of characters in the series.
Over 200 iconic MLB Legends are available, ranging from iconic names like Jose Bautista, Vladimir Guerrero, Willie Mays, and David Ortiz. And unlike other games, they have been integrated very well into the different game modes that the franchise has become accustomed to bringing.
Although Super Mega Baseball 4 has several modes, including Exhibition, Pennant Race, Online Leagues, Franchise, Single Season, Elimination Tournaments, and Shuffle Draft. The Legends, split across eight different teams, are in a league of their own in various modes like Franchise and Season (or integrated into them through the Free Agents system). Furthermore, through the Shuffle Draft, it is also possible to combine these players into their Online Leagues. If you liked opening card packs as a kid, then I feel like the addition of the Legends is akin to that feeling of finding players you want. The Shuffle Draft lets you draft 22 players for your roster by selecting eight players each round. It isn’t long before your team’s filled with unique and impressive players.
Even in the most competitive online mode, the Pennant Race, Legends were integrated very interestingly, always aiming for competitiveness between players. Every week, four players on each team are replaced by four Legends under the guide of Pennant Race Ringers, with the quality of the players being proportional to the team’s classification, in a very similar way to the draft, with the worst teams receiving the best players; replacing Mojo and Fitness from previous entries, and Pennant Race is restricted to 20 Super Mega League teams.
Speaking of Franchise mode, it’s seen some improvements across the board. You essentially build a team to ensure you create the chemistry to work in your favour. In other sports, chemistry is vital as it provides you with an effective team. Also, over five new player traits are now with conditions to match. Traits focus on making the pitcher and batter match ups feel dynamic and ensure you’re stepping up to the plate with the right teammate.
Super Mega Baseball 4 looks great in addition to playing well. Not that the previous games were ugly, but there was a considerable improvement in all aspects of the game. The menus have become much more beautiful and organized, especially advantageous in Franchise mode. There’s still the same feel as other games in the series but with a refreshed approach to graphics.
To my surprise, there aren’t any microtransactions or card packs to worry about in Super Mega Baseball 4. You’re getting a complete game without worry of ads showing up on screen while browsing menus or assembling the perfect team.
And this shows most clearly in the action inside the diamond. The character models still use the same exaggerated cartoon style to represent the players but with much higher quality models than previous games. The addition of the legends helps accentuate this point, as it’s much easier to compare their quality in contrast to the actual look of the players.
The stadiums themselves have seen improvement with six new stadiums available, as have the visual effects caused by hitting; the movement of the characters and even the narration now give a sense of being more dynamic, although ultimately, as with every sports game, it quickly falls into the traps of endless repetition. While I found the stadiums filled with details, there was also a bit of slowdown when playing, and it is far more noticeable on Switch than on other platforms.
Super Mega Baseball 4 is another excellent entry that feels like it’s in a league of its own with a stellar presentation and a renewed sense of excitement. Don’t let the graphics fool you either; there’s a relatively comprehensive title here if you want something less like MLB The Show. With that in mind, this is the best the series has been, and it certainly is worth trying for yourself, even if you aren’t the biggest baseball fan.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Switch
Super Mega Baseball 4 is another excellent entry that feels like it's in a league of its own with a stellar presentation and a renewed sense of excitement.
A fun baseball game for you and a couple friends to sink an afternoon or two into