Designated hitters

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Since the introduction of the excellent Wii Sports baseball, I've been hankering to take a swing at a full-on baseball title for the motion-controlled Wii system. Turns out Mario and the gang had the same idea.

The new Mario Super Sluggers continues the family-oriented sports franchise with some of the familiar controls of the generic Wii Sports original.

Mario baseball games have seen a few iterations, most notably with the release of Mario Superstar Baseball on the GameCube back in 2005.

The motion control of the Wii, though, offers the perfect combination of faux bat swinging and over-exaggerated pitching to make for the best excuse to get injured while playing a video game. Super Sluggers supports two Wii Remote control methods, allowing those who own a Wii Nunchuk accessory to find the scheme that's just right.

Pitching and batting work much like in Wii Sports, with some nice refinements to allow for a full baseball game experience. Players can choose differing pitching methods to deliver fastballs, change-ups and other common barn burners.

The new controls are modified slightly to allow for fielding and base-running mechanics (two things sorely missing from Wii Sports), but this will not replace a hard-core baseball simulation. The game lacks any real depth or strategy, serving primarily a casual audience.

Unfortunately, the game's creators bought into the idea that gamers will only play a game to unlock extra stadiums and team players. Initially, players can select only Mario and a limited number of other popular characters, and they must earn or unlock star players by playing through the game's 10 "stages."

Along with a traditional baseball simulation, the game also includes a series of minigames - the disease that plagues almost all Wii titles. The nine minigames available vary based on whether the games are played during the day or at night. All of them are baseball-themed, even if luck is often far more important than skill to winning them.

The expansion of the Wii's motion-control scheme makes Mario Super Sluggers fun to play in short doses, but the game brings very little new material to the plate. Basically, it serves as an update for the GameCube title. But if you like your sports colorful and cute and don't care for statistics and simulated detail, this game is a good option for you.

"Mario Super

Nintendo Wii



E for Everyone