Published on August 15th, 2019 | by Paul Stuart
Super Mega Baseball 2: Ultimate Edition Nintendo Switch Review
Summary: The best baseball on the Switch to date...if not on any console. A must-buy for hardball fans.
Super Mega, Indeed
With no disrespect intended to Santa Monica Studios’ beautiful ‘MLB: The Show,’ ‘Super Mega Baseball 2’ is the best game of hardball available.
Before I get skewered for such a bold statement, let me explain. I’m not discounting The Show’s robust array of modes and challenges, nor its magnificent presentation. But everything The Show’s been trying to do for years…Super Mega Baseball 2 does better. More specifically, it captures the spontaneity, strategy, excitement, and atmosphere of baseball that The Show simply does not possess. The Show feels canned: Super Mega Baseball 2 is fun. (‘RBI Baseball’ is simply not worth mentioning based on its continued mediocrity.)
Every game of Super Mega Baseball 2 feels fresh…because it is. Let’s start with pitching. Instead of inane micro-focus on heat maps and button timing, Super Mega Baseball 2 emphasizes smart pitch sequencing and zone placement. It assumes almost every pitch will miss its intended mark by SOME aspect. (This makes me recall former MLB pitcher Jim Bouton’s legendary ‘Ball Four’ book, where he insisted that even the best pitchers will miss by several inches. They certainly do, here.) Meaning, movement, working a count, and mixing things up will get even the best batters out. Add in pitcher skill and fatigue, pressure of the at bat, batter power/contact tendencies…and every single pitch matters. Difficulty (which Super Mega Baseball 2 defines as ‘ego’) augments this further. Batters don’t cheat…but will quickly capitalize on mistakes and/or over-predictability at higher ego levels.
Speaking of batting, again, done so well. Working a count is rewarded: drawing walks is actually possible, hit-and-run easy to execute, and no impossible strike zone management by opposing pitchers. For once, moving a batting reticule around mid-pitch doesn’t feel a lesson in frustration. It’s possible and probable to meticulously pick bat location and trajectory, most importantly to foul off two strike pitches waiting for something better. Conversely, too much emphasis on power hitting or out-of-zone hitting will punish quickly.
Fielding is similarly a breeze. Super Mega Baseball 2 perhaps overvalues throw strength, but I personally like the thin line between power arm and wildness. It creates a nice risk/reward dynamic, especially when trying to make difficult infield plays. I never once felt cheated by this dynamic, even more so as Super Mega Baseball 2’s defensive skills execute as stated. Another nice feature is how fielders smartly move toward the ball on contact, with highlight reel plays at the player’s discretion. Which means, none of the irritating ghost fielding shortstop or second baseman that run by versus to balls just a bit in the hole. Pop-ups are semi-automated, as they should be. Now if you want to jump or dive…that’s on you.
Baserunning is not perfect, but a far cry from the poop showenv of competitors. Advancing runners will logically send the lead one without dragging the rear along for the unwanted out just behind it. Stealing bases is a snap, and Super Mega Baseball 2 rewards being aggressive if a team has the legs to do it. One area of needed improvement is the automated, unnecessary doubling up of runners on infield lineouts. Far too often baserunners will take off on hard hit liners for frustrating, rally killing double plays. Maddeningly so.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Super Mega Baseball 2 is also its greatest weakness: the absence of an MLB License. Instead of focusing on individual players, Super Mega Baseball 2 is comprised of teams with very clear strength and faults. Some teams feature great defense and speed, others with fantastic contact or power hitters, those with starting or relief pitcher dominance, or one possessing balance across all aspects. This means each team will play very differently and deliberately to their strengths. Recognizing this will significantly impact chance of winning.
With no MLB license comes creative license instead. Team names, uniforms and stadiums are hysterically funny. Rosters feature both male and female players, each sporting clever names and body types. Umpire ball and strike calls – again both male and female – would make Enrico Pallazzo proud. It’s impossible not to laugh at developer Metalhead’s terrific sense of humor inherent in Super Mega Baseball 2. Being the ‘Ultimate Edition’ means all the add-on, bells and whistles of the game are present from the get go, most being in the presentation variety. For the truly adventurous, there are dozens of customizable options to create the perfect player/team. A quick internet search will find some VERY creative folks out there.
On the presentation front, Super Mega Baseball 2 is not going to blow anyone away. While it plays well, the Switch version is a serious step down from its bigger console brothers. Mirroring the latter, however, are dedicated servers for online play. This means quick matches, smooth multiplayer, and few if any hiccups. It may be difficult to find opponents, so keep this in mind.
Also, let’s be clear: this is NOT The Show in terms of features, analytics, polish and deepness. Super Mega Baseball 2 is what it is: an outstanding independent title, let alone a sports one at that. But if you’re looking for serious card collecting, a true career mode, and robust statistical breakdowns, this will sorely disappoint.
As someone whose played Super Mega Baseball since it first launched in 2014, the Ultimate Edition of version 2 is the best yet…let alone in portable fashion. Its reasonable price point makes this a must purchase for baseball fans, especially those longing for a title that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Beneath the fun lies a terrific gameplay engine, solid customization, and a sense of humor that is long overdue in sports games.