Super Mega Baseball 3 is a tricky game to review. As it stands, it’s easily the best rendition of America’s favorite pastime on the Nintendo Switch, and possibly on any system. It skirts around the inclusion of a professional license and all the stipulations that are usually associated with doing so, and is instead more focused on the feeling of baseball both as a game and as a culture. It rides the line between being a pure simulation of the sport and being an accessible and, most importantly, fun way to play it in the digital realm.
However, Super Mega Baseball 3 follows hot on the heels of its widely acclaimed predecessor – released just a year ago – with only slight and sometimes unnoticeable changes. Such is the inherent problem with annualized series, particularly with sports games. Beyond some new fields and teams, a lot of the finer details are lost on me; however, the new inclusion of a full-on franchise mode is in actuality a huge deal, and one I’m still parsing as I play the game with my Little Leaguer son.
The gameplay falls somewhere in between a simple arcade experience and an overly complex sim, giving you just enough nuance to keep things interesting without being off-puttingly obtuse. Pitching involves juggling the type of throw you want to do while taking aim at the strike zone in the hope that you’ll squeak one by, and batting is a similar song and dance, with the addition of timing your hit to send the ball in various directions. Fielding, meanwhile, is fun and brisk, with an easy-to-understand correlation of bases to the diamond layout of the controller’s face buttons, along with a power meter denoting how hard you’re going to throw. Overall though, the brilliance of Super Mega Baseball 3, and the series as a whole, is that the difficulty settings are so generous that you can make the game as easy or hard as you want with some fine-tuning.
What I really like about Super Mega Baseball 3 is the atmosphere. Thanks to being freed from having to include anything remotely real, the developers have given the stadiums, teams and players an exaggerated feel. You can tell they’re meant to be loosely based on real places, but the magic of video games takes them to another level. Even cooler is that the teams are co-ed, making the whole thing more inclusive than a licensed game would ever feel. And wonderfully, the players all have goofy names like Junior Young, Sr. and Log Freely, and they play for evocatively named teams like Hot Corners and The Moose. There’s a level of fun here that’s just not present in professional games – it reminds me of drinking a cold beer and watching the local wood-bat league team, the Jackalopes.
What makes Super Mega Baseball 3 hit all the right notes is how malleable it is; it’s the type of game you can pick up and play for a quick three or five inning game to while away a rainy afternoon, but you can also run a team for multiple seasons in your own rendition of fantasy baseball. The aforementioned difficulty options make it suitable for any skill level, and you can also play against someone on the couch next to you or online; again with all the depth you want to add.
If you’re going to pick up a Super Mega Baseball game for the first time, the third iteration is absolutely the best route to go. It not only has the sheen of being the newest, it has all the quality-of-life bells and whistles that make it the most approachable game yet. But if you dove into the series with Super Mega Baseball 2: Ultimate Edition, your mileage may vary depending on how invested you are in the series and how important the franchise mode is to you. If you’re looking at it from a pure gameplay angle, I don’t know that there’s enough new here to warrant the upgrade.
Regardless, Super Mega Baseball 3 is the best rendition of stickball out there.
Super Mega Baseball 3 was developed by Metalhead Software, and is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. We played the Switch version.
Disclosure statement: review code for Super Mega Baseball 3 was provided by VIM Global. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.
Follow A Most Agreeable Pastime on Twitter: @MostAgreeable