Baseball. Or to give its proper name American Rounders is a game that some places in the world play long after that one session in secondary school. I kid of course, I am a fan of America’s Pastime and indeed also a fan of the Detroit Tigers. I have a Justin Verlander jersey and everything. He has now left of course and my jersey is a bit battered. But I am just covering my credentials for the rest of this review for Super Mega Baseball 3.
Because of the above, I am clearly the most qualified person in the UK to talk about the game. No one else can come close. Don’t look that up, just take it at face value.
Sony has pretty much dominated the videogame Baseball scene in recent years. The Show is a hell of a series and is probably the best simulation of any sport out there. Just take a look at some of the streams on Youtube and Twitch whilst the real sport waits for the ok to start again. Check out friend of the site Ray Carsillo doing a regular live stream.
The Show really it the hardcore game for the hardcore fans of Baseball. It has an obscene amount of stats and attributes that most of us will never be able to understand, but Baseball types see like Neo sees the Matrix. Fantasy Sports whilst common place are built around Baseball and the insane level of reading those stats. Experts can predict the probability of what will happen at any moment of a game because of who is at bat, who is pitching, when they are pitching, who is on base and so many other things.
The Show takes all of that and runs with it. But there is an alternative for the more casual fans of Baseball. Super Mega Baseball 3 has no licences, so no official teams or player likenesses or anything like that. It is more of a cartoony style, with caricatures of players taking centre stage.
It also takes a much more simple approach to the game and is much, much easier to pick up and play than The Show. But that isn’t to say it lacks depth as behind the visuals and simple play, there is a huge amount of depth, that makes this as involving as you could want.
The main thing that works in the favour of Super Mega Baseball 3 is the ego system, which allows you to finely adjust the game to your own ability. Right from being super easy to pick up, swing a bat and get runs, through to having your own rear end handed to you through a variety of pitching styles that will flummox you. All built on a database of stats and attributes under the hood that make it all possible.
Whilst we don’t see real life stars such as Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Max Scherzer and others. You do get a colourful cast of players each of whom have their own unique styles. If you play through a season with a single team, you will start to recognise their personal ways of playing. Their character really shines though.
I was actually surprised by the style of the third game. The branding for Super Mega Baseball 3 is a lot more serious and professional looking, compared to the fun styled branding of the previous efforts. I imagine this is to convey the idea that SMB3 is in fact a deep game that is more sim than you’d think.
Because of this, I expected the graphics to be toned down a bit and appear more ‘realistic’ but that isn’t the case at all. I went back and played a bit of Super Mega Baseball 2, just to compare and whilst there is something different, I can’t put my finger on what it could be.
Back to Ego. This really is what determines the type of game you will play. It removes the need for a ton of sliders to tweak things that you may not have a clue on what they actually effect. What you have instead is a scale of 0-99 with the lower ends allowing even a small child to win games and level 99 meaning you’d want to be Miguel Cabrera to even stand a chance.
I am still working out where I should be setting it, as I find anything below 25 a bit too easy, but above 50 getting too hard. But not finding that sweet spot between them quite yet. Whilst it may seem silly to think there is a difference between 30 and 31 on the Ego scale in terms of actual gameplay, you do notice a difference. Obviously your mileage may vary and some may even scoff at me not being able to go above 50.
It doesn’t matter though, as the single player content should be all about you getting the most enjoyment out of the game. For me, I want a challenge, but I don’t need hyper realism, yet others may want that and some others still may want to literally hit everything easily and pitch the perfect game every single time too. Just do what makes you happy.
I didn’t feel I got enough out of previous entries. Mainly due to not being good enough to compete online, but also as the games were lacking in modes. It had the usual single exhibition, single season, tournaments, etc but still felt empty. Especially when compared to other sports titles.
So the addition of a Franchise mode really helps and all of sudden adds a ton a longevity to the game. It is still fun to pick up and play for a quick innings, but the Franchise mode just allows you to get stuck in. I can see myself playing tons of this now, rather than the odd game here and there.
The game is fully customisable in offline mode and should you wish, then you could try and recreate actual real world teams from the MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball League or even your local leagues. It reminds me of the old Pro Evo games in that respect. That on top of the game settings you can fiddle with to make it your own.
Online you are limited to only making visual changes as most modes here make sure you are playing the same game as your opponent. The main ranked matchmaking mode is called Pennant Race and allows you to earn pennants to make your way up through the leagues. I am not sure how hard it gets, as I struggle online and lose way too much.
We’ll get to the point where this doesn’t need mentioning in the future, but for now it is a case of credit, where credit is due. Super Mega Baseball 3 has cross-platform play and leaderboards. Great for making sure you aren’t left with a smaller player-base on one system.
This brings me to the elephant in the room. You see Super Mega Baseball 3 is an absolutely wonderful game, that is as accessible as you need and indeed can feel like a sim. The perfect anti-dote to the the hyper real The Show. But I have seen comments about the pricing which is a sticking point for many and maybe also part of the reason for the more serious branding.
Super Mega Baseball seems to have a reputation that it should be cheaper than other sports games like The Show, Madden, FIFA, NHL and NBA 2K. The visuals and accessibility have people believe it is a lesser game than the others. The £34.99 price can be off-putting for new fans for sure but the only thing it lacks compared to most of those listed are predatory micro-transactions in Ultimate Team style modes. I am more than happy to pay £35 for a game that doesn’t force those modes down my throat.
In the UK I get not wanting to spend out on a game like this too, as it isn’t a sport we are all in love with. I mean, its just not Cricket is it (sorry). It is a high barrier of entry and the demo doesn’t really do the main game justice.
Super Mega Baseball 3 is the best version of the game in this series. It ticks all the right boxes and manages to somehow create an experience that can be enjoyed by anyone of any ability level equally. If you played and enjoyed the previous entries in the series, then this is a worthy purchase for sure. A bit of a harder sell for absolute newcomers though.