Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings Review (Xbox One)
If you’re an Xbox One owner, and one of the many who was less than impressed with RBI Baseball 15, then you are in luck -- assuming you still have a baseball itch and need to scratch it -- because Metalhead Software's Super Mega Baseball: Extra innings has made its way to the Xbox.
Originally released on the PS4 (like PS4 owners really need another great game of baseball), owners of the Xbox finally get to see what all the hype was about back in December. I loved SMB back then, but after spending more hours than I care to admit playing this game, will it hold up this late in the season?
Don’t be fooled, buried underneath the cartoon graphics is a seriously fun and realistic game of baseball. Sure it reminds you of yesteryear in regards to the style, look and feel, but there are some AAA baseball games from the recent past that wish their physics were as realistic as what is offered up by SMB: Extra Innings. If you played the PS4 version, and are wanting to play it on the Xbox One, you will notice some refinements and upgrades in this version.
The developers have now separated the Ego values into four different categories: pitching, batting, fielding and base running. By implementing this, users can refine and tweak the game difficulty to be exactly how they want it. You will also see some tweaks to AI base running, and the inclusion of two brand-new stadiums, bringing the total to six.
Another huge addition, at least for those who love to customize, is the ability to edit all the teams in the game now. (In the PS4 version, only editing only your team was allowed.) The developers have also tweaked the AI bullpen management, and bumped up errors in specific situations.
If you look at the batting interface of SMB: Extra Innings with a superficial focus, one would be inclined to describe it as simplistic, which would only be half true. Sure, the approach is basic, but the game allows the user to approach each pitch with an actual plan. The hitting system is cursor based with a gravitational undertone, but it still requires the user to recognize good pitches, the speed of the pitch and approach each pitch with scenario awareness. Meaning you better understand how many outs there are, what’s happening on the base paths, and the strengths and weaknesses of the pitcher you are facing.
Sounds pretty deep for an arcade game, right? Well, that’s because it is -- assuming you are playing on higher difficulty levels and want to be consistently successful.
The pitching interface is every bit as fun as the hitting interface, and just as interactive. It utilizes the same type of directional method as the hitting does, and it can really become a challenge as your pitcher fatigues, or you find yourself in a stressful predicament. Much like the Show, the game requires you to pitch smart and utilize the whole strike zone. Pitching towards the black in SMB: Extra Innings is just as effective as what you would see in real life, and pitching requires that type of approach.
Fielding does not provide quite the same challenge as hitting and pitching, but that does not mean it’s boring. It has the same type of gravitational pull as seen in the hitting and pitching, and once you understand how that works, it’s pretty simple. You have the ability to sprint, dive or jump, but it all feels a bit assisted. I would have liked to have seen full unassisted fielding, as I think it really would have added to the overall challenge, but the style the developer’s implemented works just fine.
Much like the PS4 version, SMB: Extra Innings struggles in the modes department. The game offers up only exhibition and season mode. I still feel that the addition of an online league mode would have been an incredible offering, and it would have pushed the popularity of this title into the stratosphere.
I have a full understanding of the small development team, and the effort and undertaking this type of mode would require, but that does not mean I want it any less. The fact that there is no true online multiplayer has been mentioned many times, and the developers are well aware of this, but once again this would have added some much needed depth to this title.
As much as I loved the PS4 version, my affection runs a bit deeper for the Xbox One version because the extra additions do add to the experience. SMB: Extra Innings provides so many options in regards to difficulty that I was always able to find a consistent challenge, even after the embarrassing amount of time I spent with it. Even if you have access to other baseball titles, the amount of fun and realism that Metalhead's offering provides makes this an easy game to recommend. This is the type of game that I will find myself playing even during the baseball offseason simply because of the pure fun that is offered up.