Super Mega Baseball is a franchise that has slowly been ticking away since 2014. This fourth iteration seems to have been fully embraced into the EA fold, as the EA Sports logo now sits proudly next to the title; EA owning the studio that made the original three.
Having played all three of the older Super Mega Baseball titles, I am keen on seeing if Super Mega Baseball 4 has finally hit a home run for the series.
MLB The Show is without a doubt the pinnacle of baseball video games; year in, year out, that franchise knocks it out of the ballpark. From overwhelming control options to almost photo realistic players, it isn’t just a fantastic baseball game, but it’s also one of the best sports games on the market.
Super Mega Baseball 4 looks like a remnant from the Wii/Kinect era. Cute, cartoony graphics and easy controls make for quite a dated look and feel. Not that easy controls are a bad thing; I think they are great for beginners and young gamers. However, for those looking for a triumphant return to the Street titles EA used to make, they may want to look elsewhere.
Everything in Super Mega Baseball 4 compared to MLB The Show is much quicker. From loading up a game to swapping sides, each element is swift and a lot of baseball’s padding has been removed. Now, this may be due to the fact MLB The Show is far more graphically intense than this, but even just changing to the next player up to bat feels like it has a lot less fluff and waiting around.
Variety wise, there are quite a few standard sports game modes. You have Exhibition mode for jumping right into the action and Season mode where you take a team to the finals – or at least try to! Franchise mode is more in-depth, as you take on the day to day aspects of running a team, whilst an Elimination tournament mode has you trying to knock out other teams. Lastly there is Shuffle Draft, in which you get to create a league by drafting players into different rosters.
Online modes are also on show should you fancy taking those skills online. Pennant Race allows you to compete for global rankings, and also features cross platform matchmaking which is always nice to see. Online leagues are also cross-platform and allow you to complete full leagues with other players. They are all nice enough modes for sure, but feel basic and again devoid of a spark of something special.
If I was allowed to suggest a mode for the next iteration of Super Mega Baseball, I would suggest an RPG mode. Take the Mario Golf or Mario Tennis games of days gone by where you would take your player and level them up with various story points and competitions. Maybe even something similar to the old Virtua Tennis titles that allowed you to train a player up then take him or her to the big competitions.
Sure, in Super Mega Baseball 4 there are customisable options available. You can create your own teams, leagues and players, as well as designing their uniforms and logos. You can also tweak abilities, and leaning into this combined with a more in-depth experience in single player would make for a must play title. Sadly in its current form, Super Mega Baseball 4 does everything just okay.
The game isn’t inherently bad per se, it just seems to edge around being a permanent rotation title. Again, I will stress that it is probably perfect for someone wanting to just dive in and play a quick game of baseball, and the modes are all fine. But as a franchise, it just needs to condense and refine the modes to give it some heart and soul.
EA Street used to lean heavily into the urban hip hop vibe, so it may be hard for a baseball title to follow suit, but there is definitely wiggle room. See one of my biggest issues with Super Mega Baseball 4, and the franchise as a whole, is its identity. It feels like it is caught in the past, when the Wii was a main feature in every living room. No more true is that than in the visuals; while fine, they lack any sort of personality whatsoever.
The soundtrack could also do with a boost. While Super Mega Baseball 4 has not got the worst music selection, it’s missing those big hits; those that stick in your mind for weeks and make you want to come back and play the game again. Again, not the worst selection of music for a lite sports title, but nothing really stands out here either.
MLB The Show is still the undisputed king of baseball games. Super Mega Baseball 4 is there for the casual or younger players, but it’ll be hard to keep eyes on this for very long. It feels quite soulless and devoid of personality.