Arcade Sports Games need to Make a Comeback

4 08 2015

I haven’t really talked much about game dev stuff recently. Mostly because it’s all been in the background, unless I manage to do a Pixel Daily. This past month was kinda hectic.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Splatoon but my the room where the WiiU is keeps getting taken up by other stuff so not as much time for that, it’s a shame, but hey at least I got 4 gear re-rolls for nothing (and squids for free?…I guess?). So I’ve also been playing some older games too, including ones I never got to have a proper go at before.

I picked up a copy of Mario Superstars Baseball for the Nintendo Gamecube a few weeks ago and have been slowly playing through that. It’s an interesting game, probably one of the last somewhat well-known baseball games that doesn’t utilize an MLB license (even Konami’s MLB Power Pros, natch, gave service to that).

This game is another one of the Mario games that advances the “Mario and co. are just actors on a stage” because for some bizarre reason in the Mushroom Kingdom everyone has decided “baseball is awesome” and they used their massive Mario Bros. royalty checks to build themed baseball parks. Then Bowser, because Bowser is always that one guy you know who has to prove himself better in all things, be it sports, racing, board games, or ruling small fictional countries consisting of fungus people, decides he’s going to challenge everyone else to see who’s the best.

Also, I don’t think a spiked metal club is a regulation bat.

This forms the “Challenge” mode of the game, where you walk around the world map going to everyone’s ballpark and playing them in an attempt to level up your players and also win over their players. You do this by fulfilling special conditions during the game (like striking certain players out or getting hits off of certain players). This allows you to supplement your team with not only named characters, but random goons like Toads, Shyguys, Goombas, and Koopas. Also strange is the fact that Mario’s team has himself and Luigi on it, and Yoshi’s Team has Baby Mario and Baby Luigi on it. So again, I think everyone is just actors at this point, either that or there’s some time shenanigans going on.

Luigi Za Warudo

But I digress. So far in Challenge mode the games go very fast. They’re only 3 innings long (unless you go into extra innings which stop at 6 if there’s a tie). There’s also not a whole lot of downtime either since we don’t have long intros for players and whatnot, or time for commentary except for the weirdly nasally voice of (I’m guessing) a Lakitu. I’m only guessing that because Lakitu is your tutorial of sorts, doing things like passive-agressively snarking about your initial lineup (though let’s be fair, the fact that just about everyone’s team is basically 6 random mooks plus 3 named characters is sorta chuckle-worthy), and telling you how the map screen works which is kind of helpful.

Speaking of other chuckle-worthy things, some of the team names are…special. Well one in particular. The D.K. Kongs. The Donkey Kong Kongs. DK named a team with his last name twice and the roster is only 33% actual Kongs (himself, Diddy, and Dixie. Everyone else is Koopa Troopas and Goombas). Then again what else would one expect from someone who brought a Boxing Glove to a baseball game?

No, Seriously

No, Seriously

On the other hand, maybe he knew one day Nintendo would call upon him to be a secret boss in Punch-Out for the Wii, who can say. Anyway, also in Challenge mode you can play minigames to get coins, which will let you do things like get steroids buy items and powerups that do things like unlock special pitches for some players or improve overall team speed.

The various ballparks are all pretty interesting. Marios is normal, of course, but everyone else apparently decided OSHA is only for people from Brooklyn and thus just did whatever. Princess Peach has built her ballpark in the courtyard of the castle, not even bothering to trim the hedges, and putting random blocks up above to mess up trajectories. And balls that carom off of those are still live and can be caught for an out.

I think this is from an earlier build but w/e

DK has built his ballpark on a river full of Klaptraps and apparently also a barrel factory running through it so getting decked by fallilng barrels hurts a lot. Yoshi has built a ballpark that has Pirahna plants guarding the foul lines and can spit the ball wherever they feel like. Wario built a park in the desert with Chain Chomps. If Bowser’s ballpark isn’t built over an active volcano I’ll actually be surprised.

The game is surprisingly in-depth for what it is, giving the player the ability to steal bases and have players grow as they accomplish goals which you can see detailed, and it’s a lot of fun and very fast-paced.

There are some drawbacks, for one thing the only way to throw faster pitches is that you have to hold down the A button, which starts a charge up animation for your pitcher and depending on who you have pitching it could mean you’ll get ridiculous nonsense like Mario jumping up into the air every time he throws the ball (nowhere near as bad as ShyGuy’s though). This is why I use Luigi as my pitcher because his charge up is fast and no-nonsense. Just spins around like a maniac and whips the ball. Also there are Star Pitches you can do but the timing on those is still a mystery to me. Though it’s hilarious to see a CPU opponent do a star pitch only for me to bunt the ball.

Anyway the whole point of this was that we really need Arcade-style sports games to come back. Back in the 90s you had NBA Jam, Base Wars, Super Baseball 2020, Double Dribble, Mutant League Football, Mutant League Hockey, NFL Blitz, etc. etc. Those games were a lot of fun and didn’t get too caught up in minutae of stats (by the way, sports nerds are the biggest nerds and it’s hilarious to see people who know what WAR or WHIP is, or have their own fantasy sports team, look down on video game players, but that’s for another time). We need these to come back somehow. In a world where only Sony is making MLB games, we need “Oh! That’s a Baseball!”

Yes I made another Jojo reference, deal with it.

 

 

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