|Developer||Metalhead Software Inc.|
|Platforms||PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||June 2nd, 2023|
As a casual sports fan, the Super Mega Baseball series has always appealed to me. I remember playing Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings for an afternoon thanks to Xbox’s Games with Gold service and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve heard nothing but praise from a few dedicated gamers who also happen to be baseball fans. Super Mega Baseball 4 is next up to bat in the series, and though we are knee-deep in new releases as I write this, I was eager to take a swing for myself. If MLB the Show leans too much on the simulation category, this series’s lighthearted humor and customizable experience make this latest entry a no-brainer for fans of the sport to pick up.
It pleases me to share that Super Mega Baseball 4 is a clean video game. The most violence seen on screen is when a batter hits a ball at the pitcher, knocking him out, and vice versa. The ESRB Rating shows that the game is E for Everyone, however, the details show that an alcohol reference exists somewhere within the game. While I have not encountered that content, I’d guess it may have to do with the licensed music that plays in the game’s menu.
Super Mega Baseball 4 is easily the most fun I’ve had with a baseball game in a long time. The game’s ego difficulty settings determine the kind of challenge you are looking for, and casual was the way to go for me. While the most fun I had was playing exhibition matches, SMB4 has a handful of gameplay modes for players to dig deep into the game. For the most dedicated players, Pennant Race is the game’s ranked mode in which players compete against one another for the top spot on divisional leaderboards. Fans will be happy to find a Franchise mode—now a staple in the genre. The Season mode holds the opportunity to win a championship without the management sim aspect of Franchise if you want to get right into the action. In addition, the tournament-style Elimination mode and Online Leagues offer even more ways to engage with the game.
While you won’t find official MLB teams here, the roster of players is quite sizable with three leagues that include original characters who have some seriously punny names, content creators, and legends such as Babe Ruth and David Ortiz. A new feature I have yet to fully grasp is addition of player traits and chemistry which are meant to have an effect on each game. Just as with previous entries, SMB4 is fully customizable, meaning that we have the ability to create and customize every player and team. I combined the game’s three leagues into one and mixed them around via the shuffle draft feature and made a team of my own called the Sonics. I found a hedgehog logo when I was exploring the options available to me; inspired by Sega’s mascot, I even changed the uniform colors. Editing the already existing teams or making new ones has the potential to be a massive time sink, and remains to be a highlight of the series.
Another key improvement for the series is an improved presentation. The on-field players have more expression and animations compared to previous entries, and you can now hear their names when they step up to the plate. Improved visual features make playing under the lights of a stadium at night my favorite setting to get a quick game in. The cartoonish style of the Super Mega Baseball series is what appeals to me most as it tells me I don’t need to take my time with it too seriously. I couldn’t help but literally laugh out loud at the first time I knocked out the pitcher with a ball I just hit back in their direction, and when I saw a player break their bat at home plate after striking out. That humor gives the series an identity where it would otherwise feel like a sorely generic experience without that extra layer of personality.
Where I think the game falls short is that its improvements may feel meager to the dedicated fanbase. $49.99 for the base game and another $10 for the special Ballpark Edition feels significantly steep, which continues a trend as the price has grown higher with each entry. Kudos to EA for taking in this development team, but it is possible that a bigger budget is in store to give players the most out of that price tag. The existence of a physical version could also play a part in this factor, as I won’t claim to know anything about how the physical distribution of games works. All that being said, this is the most definitive version of Super Mega Baseball to date.
Both casual and dedicated sports fans like myself will want to look no further than Super Mega Baseball 4. The time you choose to spend with the game is completely in your hands, whether it’s 3 innings or a full 9 and whether you decide to fully customize everything in sight. This is a game I might break out during family gatherings, as it isn’t difficult to learn how to swing or pitch. The major downside in the 4th inning of this indie darling series still feels like a budget title with a full price tag. What we have here is far from a strikeout from Metalhead Software, more like an out that was just short of a grand slam.
The Bottom Line
You could say that with three prior releases already running the bases, Super Mega Baseball 4 doesn't hit a grand slam, but it's still great fun.