After three long years, the next installment in the Super Mega Baseball franchise is finally out. The first release since developer Metalhead Software was purchased by EA, Super Mega Baseball 4 aims to take over the baseball gaming market.
With subtle changes to gameplay alongside larger updates to modes and presentation, Super Mega Baseball 4 is here to show that you don’t need to be a fully league-licensed game to be a success.
The game does feature former MLB players for the first time, a feature that shows to be a clear attempt to draw in more casual players that may not have heard of the series before. Over 200 players including Boston Red Sox Legend and Baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, the great Hank Aaron, and many others. But, don’t worry, classic Super Mega League players return like Hammer Longballo and Jackie Slam return.
Anything But Arcade
If you are going into Super Mega Baseball 4 expecting some sort of arcade experience, you’re going to be disappointed. While the visuals may be over the top and there are some things that make it seem arcade-like, that’s not what this game is. Super Mega Baseball 4 plays like a simulation game on the field and possesses depth off it that many sports titles fail to achieve.
The gameplay remains as accessible for anyone as ever. From pitching to fielding to hitting, everything is done via easy-to-learn button controls with reticle movement. Of course, making the best pitches and getting the best contact still requires the same successful timing that the last game required. It makes it a game that’s easy to learn but hard to master.
To help improve your play, the EGO skill level returns. Ranging from 1-100, the EGO system lets you set your difficulty before each game, allowing you to find the best challenge for your personal abilities.
New features to the game this time around are automatic walks, two-way players, and larger bullpens. All of this brings a new level of strategy within the game that wasn’t there in Super Mega Baseball 3.
Going back to the visuals, the game looks much more polished this time around than any of the first three installments. While still the same cartoon-looking player models, everything just has that extra level of detail to make the game look better than ever.
Player animations are fun. From the butt scratching before a pitch to batters breaking their bats over their knees after a strikeout, everything is over-the-top enough to put a smile on your face without being viewed as “cheesy”.
Stadium details are great with each having their own unique feel to them. There’s the classic feel of stadiums like Lafayette Corner and Founder’s Field as well as the more ambitious modern ballparks like Swagger Center and Tiger Den. Each ballpark features different dimensions that add to the uniqueness of every game you play.
Other presentation improvements include Super Mega Radio which harkens back to games like Madden 05 with an in-game radio network as well as new in-game commentary for the players.
My only real gripes about this game are two more minor things. First, there remains no replay suite to watch highlights or even look around the ballpark. Second, I don’t like that in order to create a team, you have to add them to a league first. That means that if you want to remove a custom league, you are going to lose any custom team you made within it.
That said, customization, despite no ability to share or download logos and designs from community members, remains as deep as ever. If you want to create all 30 MLB teams within the game, you can and the logo creation tool has enough options to let the talented ones of us create the proper logos to near perfection.
Unrivaled Mode Depth
As far as game modes are concerned, there’s no shortage of options in Super Mega Baseball 4.
Pennant Race returns, putting you against random online players in same and cross-platform matchups to battle for a division title. There’s a standard season mode that sees you just play for a chance at a championship without the extra management involved. Elimination is your standard tournament mode, and, as always, there are basic exhibition games.
Online leagues allow players to have their own league with friends or complete strangers. When setting up an Online League, you can determine if you want to allow custom teams or stick with standard teams, choose how long a season lasts, game length, whether to start with a shuffle draft, including a DH, and more.
With all that said, however, the main bread and butter mode of Super Mega Baseball 4 is Franchise.
Everything within Franchise mode is much deeper than any installment. In all honestly, we are looking at the deepest franchise offering aside from maybe the NBA 2K series.
Once you have your pre-league settings and teams set — which can be all custom teams with rosters featuring a mix of real and fictional players if you so choose –, the depth really shows. Everything from finances to team chemistry to general player skills has you managing your team your way to best win a championship.
What’s new is a loyalty meter that influences your players and your decisions more than you’d think. Decisions you make as a manager — like whether or not to comfort an upset player instead of going to your card game — will impact the loyalty of your players. Will they want to stay with you after the season, or will they be so upset with your decisions that you have no chance of retaining them?
The mode’s traits and chemistry also see quality of life improvements to make them matter more to each other. Team chemistry can, and will, impact how effective player traits will be when in a game.
Should You Buy Super Mega Baseball 4?
At the end of the day, the title of the article says it all, Super Mega Baseball 4 is what all sports games should strive to be like. Fun gameplay you don’t want to put down, deep modes that keep you hooked, and no push for microtransactions.
It was honestly hard to put the game down long enough to write this up. If that’s not a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is.
Super Mega Baseball 4 really is absolute perfection.
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