I did a little digging and discovered that in my 25 years of writing, I have reviewed nearly a dozen hardball titles. Most have been official MLB licensed fare with the intent of delivering a realistic Big League experience, there have been a few titles that have taken a more over-the-top approach to the game with corkscrew pitches and bat-shattering swings. Super Mega Baseball 4 falls somewhere in the middle of those two genres; a non-licensed title with a cast of slightly cooky characters (as well as a couple hundred bona fide MLB legends) and amazingly accessible gameplay, that delivers the absolute best baseball experience I have encountered in any prior review.
The Super Mega Baseball 4 comes to us from the folks at the Vancouver, BC based Metalhead Studios. I had no prior experience with the franchises three prior releases, but upon first glance at the cover art I assumed I was in for a reimagining of old MLB Slugfest series. But, while Super Mega Baseball 4 does have some of the hallmark features of Midway’s cult classic – it achieves a degree of depth that Slugfest never came close to achieving.
Whether standing on the mound, standing at the plate, catching balls in the outfield, or running the bases – Super Mega Baseball 4 just gets everything right. The controls are so comfortable and intuitive, that the gamer will be pitching, fielding, and batting like a pro in just a couple of minutes. And if any of these seem too easy (or difficult), the difficulty levels of just about every aspect of the game can be tweaked independently to the gamer’s liking. Batting too easy? Make batting a little bit more difficult. Pitching too hard? Make the pitching a tad easier. There’s a bevy of gamer customizations to tailor the game to deliver the perfect experience.
Mega Baseball 4 is not an MLB licensed franchise. Therefore, no MLB teams, stadiums, mascots, or current MLB players are featured in the game. Teams have goofy names like Wild Pigs, Beewolves, and the Sirloins – and the stadiums are equally odd with the Swagger Center, The Corral, and Tiger Den. Yeah, it’s pretty cringey, but you do chuckle every now and then. The Super Mega League features a seemingly endless roster of players (male and female) of all body shapes, sizes, and appearances. And while current MLB players are not allowed in the game, the all new Legends League offers up 240 former MLB greats ranging from Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron to Rollie Fingers and pretty much anyone else you can think of.
The game offers up seven gameplay modes; Exhibition, Pennant Race, Online Leagues, Franchise, Season, Elimination, and the star of the show – Shuffle Draft. The first six are self-explanatory, but shuffle draft really amps things up by letting players build a custom hybrid team with players from all three leagues featured in the game (Super Mega, Legends, and Custom Players) to play in a custom league, or any of the other six modes. The draft is handled much like a fantasy league draft, where players have limited resources to keep teams balanced, so one cannot simply make a super team of ringers to dominate.
Super Mega Baseball 4’s presentation is absolutely amazing, and it goes beyond the stunning character models and stadium designs – the sound quality is second to none, with excellent stadium announcing, and an excellent original music soundtrack complete with radio DJ announcing and commercials between songs. The only thing missing is in-game play-by-play, but that would have been a monumental endeavor with the sheer number of players, stadiums, and customization that is offered.
Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much from Super Mega Baseball 4, so I was really surprised when it delivered the best baseball gameplay I have experienced in 25 years of gaming reviews. Baseball fans should not overlook this one – at first glance it may seem silly, but the first step up to the mound and you realize it is the real deal.