Review: Mario Superstar Baseball


Yes, yes. We heard the whining from people raging on about Mario starring in too many Nintendo titles. We had that phase, now bring on the games. Mario Superstar Baseball is the first Mario game appearing on the GameCube this games season. It's a new addition to Nintendo's sports games titles and, guess what; the baseball suit perfectly fits the fat plumber.

It's easy to compare Mario Superstar Baseball with the other Nintendo sport titles on the GameCube: Mario Power Tennis and Mario Golf. Both are highly entertaining games and very easy to pick up. Mario's baseball game plays just like those games. You will easily fit in. Controls often only consist of the A and B button, with the other buttons providing some additional extra functions yet, it still manages to incorporate some skill, for example holding the A button to let the player smash harder/pitch faster. It keeps it simple for everyone to play and quickly becomes fun. Inherent is the downside of course, it can only go so far and the game lacks depth by taking this approach, but you weren't expecting anything otherwise from Mario right? Good.

The problem for us Europeans for this game is the sport itself. Baseball isn't really that popular in our continent. You hit a ball with a bat and run, big deal. Maybe it's our naivety shining through that puts a blockade at some point to our enjoyment of it, or we just dont want to be like Americans? However, Nintendo's choice for baseball as a sport where Mario can shine is understandable. The sport is popular in Japan, not to mention the US. We Europeans aren't that much into baseball. Heck, some of us don't even know the rules of the game. The regulations aren't hard to understand, but the game, including the instruction booklet, doesn't give us any explanation about the baseball principles. With baseball being a little bit harder to understand than tennis, this game can be confusing in the beginning. At the end of the day though, this is fun, and every game has a learning curve, this just has an acceptance curve instead.

Mario Superstar Baseball is a fast-paced arcade game. Realism is hard to find. Not strange when a baseball game features more than 25 of Nintendo's colourful characters and different Mushroom Kingdom stadiums. Mario and his gang playing baseball doesn't at all seem strange after what we've seen him do in the past. The beautiful and amusing intro movie puts everything immediately in its right place, with both sound and look adjusted to the baseball universe. As you can expect from a Mario sport title, there are some special star options included. At the start of a match you get a few star powers, useable whenever you want, be it hitting or pitching. They don't influence the game as much as the 'powers' in Mario Power Tennis, but this is a good thing in my opinion

Next to that there are the individual qualities of the characters. Bowser for example is a real hard power hitter, but his running is as slow as Mr. Smith in his wheelchair. Characters individual stats can be improved in the one-player challenge mode. In this mode you have to play against four opponent teams to make them join your side. Eventually you play Bowser's team for the cup with your own picked team. This makes you feel like you really have formed your own personal squad. The players on your side can get better by successfully completing star tasks during the match: i.e. 'Hit a Home Run' or 'climb up a wall and make a catch'. People who find the regular challenge mode too short (it is, actually) should find enjoyment in improving their players here.

While most of the controls become your second nature in minutes, there are some movements that really hard to execute. Moving only one player to the next base instead of all the players is one thing too complicated. You have to press the button and the control pad corresponding to the base. When you're in the middle of a hectic game, this isn't the easiest task to do. One other thing is throwing the ball to the right fielder. Sometimes it feels like the buttons don't correspond right.

Next to that, Mario Superstar Baseball has another problem. It lacks diversity, something also notable in Mario Tennis. So we have a single player challenge mode. Yes, we have an exhibition mode, of course, mini-games are present as always, but that's it. There's no way to set up a competition, let alone a championship. It's a simple shortcoming that infests most of Ninty's sport titles. The inclusion could add a lot to the lifespan. What is there is as you'd expect though, good reliable Mario fun. That is to say other than the mini-games, they lack any real purpose with poor relation to baseball and the majority of them suck. Shame.

I don't want to sound over critical about this highly amusing game, but another thing what strikes me is the multiplayer mode. Baseball is pre-eminently the sport which must be played with more players in one team at the same time. Multiplayer mayhem is one of the main points for Ninty's sport games. Why not include the option to let players cooperate in the same team? It would be so much more fun if you could play with a friend in one team beating two other friends. Now you only have the slim option to play against your opponent's team in an exhibition match. Playing with four players is only possible in mini-games which aren't amusing for long.

Overall I must say that Mario Superstar Baseball has become a highly attractive game despite the few letdowns. The game contains all the elements to expect from a Ninty sport title; colourful graphics, classic Nintendo tunes and characters, addictive gameplay and simple fun. Too bad baseball isn't a popular sport over here, though. Dont like baseball? If this cant change your mind then nothing will.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Plain fun. Just what to expect from a Mario sport title.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability3
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Easy controls
Mario cast fits perfect


Lacks depth and diversity
One player mode too short
Matches limited to two players

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