Super Mega Baseball 3 doesn’t try for a second to be something it’s not. The game is a true arcade baseball title that’s accessible for anyone interested.
But don’t let the looks and the name fool you, this game can be as deep as you’d like.
The follow up to the critically acclaimed Super Mega Baseball 2, this year’s installment feels extremely similar to its predecessor while still doing plenty to be different. From new modes to gameplay enhancements, Metalhead Software has pulled out all the stops to take its baseball franchise to the next level.
But does it do enough to warrant the jump for everyone, or should you stick with what you have?
For the most part, gameplay remains similar to that of Super Mega Baseball 2. That said, there are things that make the game feel much more authentic.
For starters, pitching has a number of new additions. Super Mega Baseball 3 introduces wild pitches, pitch outs, passed balls, and even the ability to attempt pickoffs.
Throwing power pitches has become more difficult with precise timing being more key than either of the first two games. If you think throwing power pitches every single time will lead you to success at the higher ego levels, you’re going to be greatly disappointed.
Depending on where you hit the ball, you could get a completely different sound…
Passed balls are determined by a variety of factors including your pitcher’s stamina, skill level, and your catcher’s skill behind the plate. Pickoffs won’t always make it to your destination if your pitcher is tense or isn’t that good at throwing. Pitch outs work when you think a base runner is going to steal, and you want to make sure you have a chance to throw them out. Just be prepared for a possible wild throw.
At the plate, it feels a lot like the last game, just more responsive. There was rarely a delay, even when testing online play, in my swing response time. One small thing I enjoyed was the simple sounds of the bat making contact with the ball. Depending on where you hit the ball with your bat, you could get a completely different sound which was just so satisfying. You also sense a nice difference between contact and power hitters, though, if you’re lucky, you may find yourself making great contact with a low-skilled pitcher at the plate.
Also more responsive are the fielding controls. Throwing to your chosen base or even the cutoff man is quick. What I would like to see slightly improved, however, is the transition when the cutoff man gets the ball. It takes a bit too long, even for the higher-rated players, to make the transition throw to the selected base.
Stealing bases now comes automatically when hitting the appropriate button. If you were used to watching your players run only at the right moment, it may take a game or two to bake the new stealing mechanics into your mind. In the long run, it adds more timing requirements and realism when trying to steal at the cost of short term frustration.
My main problem with the gameplay comes in two areas. The first involves the lack of any sort of fly ball indicator. Sometimes it can become a nightmare to track down a fly ball. The other problem I have is that fielders will feel like they are floating above the ground, especially when moving side to side. It rarely, if ever, happens with infielders, but outfielders have this annoyance quite often.
These are two things I’d like to see fixed in post-launch updates, but that doesn’t mean they take away a lot from the overall enjoyment.
Super Mega Baseball 3 features a number of returning modes like Exhibition, Season, Elimination, and Pennant Race. Pennant Race remains a favorite mode of mine due to not only its ease to join — you can queue up for a contest while doing anything in the game — but its quick manner. One race per day and then you start anew to race up the leaderboards.
The big new addition to the game this time around is Franchise Mode. A unique take on the traditional mode, Super Mega Baseball 3 gives fans a deep mode to come back to while adding that expected Super Mega Baseball flair.
The premise of the mode is simple, take a team of your choice — premade or custom — into the mode will the sole goal of building a perennial championship contender. Inside the mode, you have plenty of what you’d expect as far as roster management and player development. However, Super Mega Baseball 3 does things quite differently than other Franchise Mode entries.
First, let’s talk about player development. Instead of just taking XP and improving your players, development is done via funds available to you as determined by your budget. Throughout the season, various update rolls become available all having different costs. These updates have a set amount of games before they can expire, but that doesn’t guarantee they will at that time. That’s the beauty of the feature.
All contracts are essentially one-year deals
Also, not every boost is the same. With each purchased development, the game will roll the boosts giving your players a chance to see anywhere from a significant improvement to just a minor tweak to your stats. On top of that, your players have a chance to earn both positive and negative traits from the purchases.
As far as the funds to make the purchases go, those are determined by what’s leftover after you fill out your roster. At the start of each season, whatever amount you haven’t spent on players the year prior carries over as player development funds. That simple mechanic adds strategy towards whether you go all out on roster additions or save some cash to improve the players you have.
Moving on to building your roster, Super Mega Baseball 3 allows you to sign and release players throughout the season, but the most turnover will come during the offseason.
All contracts are essentially one-year deals where players have the option to resign or retire from your squad. When this happens, it’s up to you to take the funds you have to replenish your roster and add new talent.
During this time period, you’ll have up to 32 rounds (weeks) of opportunities to sign players. In week one, all available players will demand their highest salaries. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to give them what they want or wait a little bit to see if they remain available at a cheaper price. When you get that player to come down to a price you are comfortable in paying, it can feel just as rewarding as a win on the field. Sometimes, though, you’ll wait just a bit too long and end up losing that player you wanted. It’s all part of the risk/reward that’s there when trying to assemble a team.
Once you’re happy with your roster, spent all your money, or you’ve gone through all 32 rounds, you can advance to the next season to try and achieve championship glory. It would be nice to have a bit more to do in the offseason, but for a first step in a brand new franchise mode, what’s there is fun for what it is.
The game’s deep customization suite returns with nearly endless possibilities for what you can create. Whether you want to create a league of brand new teams or take a stab at recreating the teams of Major League Baseball, the ability is there for you.
If there’s one aspect of the game that I feel was neglected a bit, it’s presentation. Much of it remains exactly the same from the last installment, which is kind of a bummer. From the slow-motion after contact to the post Home Run animations, it just feels a bit too much of the same. That said, there are some nice improvements.
First, when in playoff games in your franchise, the atmosphere is quite different than regular-season games as fans are much louder throughout. Another presentation boost comes in the form of the game’s PA announcer. Instead of saying the player’s number or position, a player’s name is properly announced. From Bobby Bashe to Raise Ruffo, it’s a great touch to hear some of the outlandish names that make up the Super Mega Baseball rosters.
From a stadium standpoint, there are now 14 unique ballparks to choose from, up from eight in the last game. Each stadium looks completely different from the other, and all have a fun atmosphere to them. From the truck going up and down the rock wall at Red Rock Park to the Yankee Stadium-inspired Apple Field, you can spend so much time getting lost in the environment.
Sadly, there remains no replay feature within the game which is disappointing, leaving you limited in what you can relive and enjoy.
Super Mega Baseball 3 is exactly what you’d expect from the series. An experience that plays as close to simulation baseball as possible while still clearly being an over-the-top arcade game.
The addition of Franchise Mode adds hours of replay value to the game on top of the fun Pennant Race mode. On the field, it’s a much more finely tuned baseball game despite the feeling that your fielders are floating at times.
An accurate physics engine and more responsive controls than either of the prior two games is sure to keep Super Mega Baseball 3 in the running for multiple awards throughout the year, and could very well make it, once again, the best baseball game on the market.
***NOTE: A copy of Super Mega Baseball 3 was provided to Sports Gamers Online for the purpose of this review***
Once again, Metalhead Software proves that you don’t need a major league license to make a great sports game