You’ve got to give Super Mega Baseball 2 a lot of credit: it manages to find a home on the PlayStation 4 where so many others fail. Stepping up to bat against Sony’s own MLB The Show must be an intimidating prospect, but this likeable arcade outing swings for the fences – and ultimately loads its bases. If you like your sports games to be accessible, then there’s a lot of customisability here to allow you to tailor the title to your specific tastes and needs – but there’s also a surprising degree of depth that elevates it far above the MLB’s own R.B.I. Baseball brand.
Indeed, don’t be deceived by the cartoon character models on display: this is a sim-lite rather than a pure arcade game. The physics are actually pretty impressive, with pitches having a direct effect on the types of hits you can make – and some crazy under-the-hood stat tracking that alters performance. A mechanic named Mojo, for example, depicts each of your players’ mood; slug some screamers and you’ll be brimming with confidence, but whiff one too many times and you’ll start to get nervy.
Making contact with the ball is straightforward enough, as you align a reticule over the pitch’s flight and time your swing. There’s a power shot option which adds additional depth, while the pitching mixes skill with strategy. Fielding can be a bit frustrating due to some cumbersome controls and unwieldy AI, but it’s not a deal breaker; the same is true of base running, which you can micromanage similarly to The Show, but it’s a teensy bit awkward.
The gameplay is governed by a unique system named Ego, which is essentially a difficulty slider that allows you to tweak the single player challenge to your needs. The really neat thing about this is that you can assign different Ego settings to the various aspect of the game, so if you feel you’re hitting too many home runs but struggling to get people out, you can edit the gameplay until it’s just right. You can also set up multiple difficulty profiles for friends and family.
Ego also adapts the scoring system, adding multipliers for those playing at a higher tier. While the points ultimately don’t mean much, trying to beat your high score adds some replay value. If the leaderboards aren’t for you, though, there’s a season mode with a surprising amount of stat tracking, as well as an online multiplayer option named Pennant Race which sees you working through leagues in cross-platform competitions. Unfortunately, we found the servers to be quite barren.
Perhaps the biggest draw here outside of the baseball itself is the ability to create and customise your own teams. There’s no licensing so the game gives you complete control over logos, uniforms, and players. We’re not overly keen on the Xbox Avatar-esque character models we must say, but the handful of stadiums have a vibrant look to them, and the sound effects add an entertaining old-school appeal to the on-field action.
Super Mega Baseball 2 looks like a straightforward arcade game and it can be if you want it to be – but there’s a surprising amount of depth to this colourful sequel that will keep you coming back. The game’s vibrant presentation and frenetic flow set it apart from MLB The Show, and its raft of customisation options mean that you can tailor it to your tastes. Some cumbersome controls can grate, but if you’re looking for a baseball game a little less serious than Sony’s, then this is a great alternative.