This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, focuses on the new release of the Namco co-developed and Nintendo-published GameCube arcade sports title Mario Superstar Baseball
With Mario's recent or forthcoming forays into golf, soccer, and basketball, to name a few, starring in a baseball game seems a natural step, and the latest in the line of Mario sports titles scored reasonably, if not spectacularly with critics, garnering an average rating of 78%
, according to review aggregation site GameTab.
The most notable criticism for the game seems to stem from the game's artificial intelligence, as Gamespy's Raymond M. Padilla relates
: "While the simplified baseball system is fine for the most part, there are some annoying quirks that detract from the gameplay. The opposing A.I. can be pretty stupid at times. There were many times when I'd hit the ball to an infielder with a man on third and no outs. The A.I. would foolishly try to get the man out at home instead of getting the sure out at first, regardless of the score."
Gamespot's Bob Colayco concurs
, unfortunately, specifically commenting: "Where Mario Baseball really lets you down is with the baserunning artificial intelligence. If you have runners on base, they will always break at the crack of the bat. This can be very frustrating on obvious fly-ball or line-drive outs when your runners constantly get doubled off their bases because they left when they shouldn't have."
As for the title's visuals, reviewers were overall quite pleased with this late-generation GameCube title. IGN's Matt Casamassina remarks
: "Namco has created a very crisp, stylized baseball experience. Mario Superstar Baseball screams Mushroom Kingdom from beginning to end. The clean, often humorously animated character models that grace the field will please Nintendo fans... It all comes together for a baseball title worthy of Nintendo's stamp."
Another appreciated feature is the game's multiplayer and mini-games, which GameSpy's Padilla describes thus: "Up to four players can participate in straight up baseball games, the various mini-games, and an interesting Toy Field mode... While the regular baseball games are great whether you're going solo or playing with your buddies, the mini-games are exponentially more entertaining with friends. With a great main game and lots of fun mini-games, I'd go as far as to say that this is a much better party game than the last few Mario Party releases."
All in all, most reviewers agree that Mario Superstar Baseball
is a good arcade-style baseball game that looks visually smart, but is not without its shortcomings. As Gamespot's Colayco sums up: "As it is, the game is still a lot of fun and offers plenty of charm to offset those gaffes while still presenting itself as a great pick-up-and-play baseball game. Depending on how many innings you set each game for, contests can go for 10 or 15 minutes, making Mario Superstar Baseball an ideal choice if you want to satisfy a quick hardball fix."