Originally released in December 2014, exclusively for PlayStation consoles, Super Mega Baseball gave baseball fans an arcade game that would not only entertain with goofy animations and design features, but also bring a solid foundation that could compete with the heavyweight titles fans are accustomed to playing, notably MLB: The Show and MLB 2K. Fast forward to the present, developer Metalhead Software has completed its Xbox One version of the title (to be on Steam too in a week), slapped the suffix “Extra Innings," added a few new ingredients, and said "Game on!"
At first, second, and maybe a third glance, Super Mega Baseball looks like something your young nephew would beg his parents to buy: players with giant heads, bats the size of tree logs, pretty much all things silly and ridiculous rolled up in one. And when you get down to its meat and bones, that is what this game is all about—turning a slow, semi-serious game into a light airy simulation everyone can enjoy. But that’s where the fun part is. There’s no need to focus on big name trades, draft boards, or any of the outside duties professional baseball people need to deal with. You simply pick a team and jump right in.
When starting off, you have the option to play exhibition or season mode, which are both easy to pick up, with season mode rewarding players and teams with stats and equipment upgrades. The longer and harder the season is, the better the rewards. For first-timers, it’s recommend to start off with a lower setting to find your bearings. Essentially, your settings will be what the game calls your “ego”; the higher the ego, the harder the game. Though with the customization options, you are able to adjust different settings to your ego perfectly the way you like; batting, pitching, fielding—it’s all separately changeable. This all helps when playing with or against friends locally. If one player is better than the other, a simple ego adjust can level the playing field.
Without any of the MLB licenses, Extra Innings doesn’t have to worry about accuracy when it comes to player or team names… or anything like that. Currently in my season session, I’ve custom-created a team that closely resembles friends and relatives but with a flare of dramatics. This is made possible when default match-ups could see Alisha Woodrow of the Buzzards face off against Geronimo James of the Moonstars.
Gameplay isn’t just about the looks here. Sure, the theme is light and colorful but gameplay mimics a lot of what you’d see in the more “accurate” titles. Many of the button schemes are actually quite difficult to master especially when it comes to base running. Fielding is just like any other baseball game you might have played. Working your way around the buttons, you’ll throw the ball to the according base: B to first, Y to second, X to third, and A for home. Pitching and batting are also dynamic, requiring the need for timing and accuracy.
With batting, finding that perfect swing is key and there are a few ways to orchestrate it. A simple contact swing can be achieved by pressing A, which is more of a conservative hit but can still produce big results. When immediately stepping to the plate as a slugger, a power swing will be your go-to and where timing is at its highest. When loading up a power swing, it’s not just about the timing of the swing to make contact with the ball, but it’s also loading up the power meter as high as you can for when you release, so not only are you releasing at the best point of contact but at your highest power point as well. When done correctly and to perfection, the stadium will no doubt be rained upon with home runs.
Other features that help tie in the authentic feel of the game, despite not looking like one, are the stats sheet helpers and player ratings guide. Before each game you can make adjustments to your lineup in any way. Or when facing off, batter vs. pitcher, you’ll see each player’s ratings, mojo, how they are feeling towards the current pressure, and you can sub in or out how you see fit.
Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings is a delight to play. At times, like most baseball simulators, gameplay can get a bit dull and repetitive, but having those customization options help open up what you can do and keeps things interesting. Season mode can be a drag, though, especially when facing the grueling “long” season. It’d be nice to be able to cut games short by simulating through at any point of setting games to shorter innings. But then I guess it wouldn’t be "extra innings," would it? For those who haven’t played the PlayStation version, this is worth a pick-up for the novelty of it all and worth the time for playing with friends.