“Just Spend Money” says a satirical Nike-themed ad lining the boards in Super Mega Baseball 2’s stadiums. It’s part of a classic baseball satire, the likes of which Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball, Baseball Stars 2, and The Bigs understood so well. Classics, the lot of them. So too is Super Mega Baseball 2.
Batters sport massive, heroic jaws. Their arm musculature stretches wider than most people’s chests. Wild hairstyles give players grand, identifiable personalities without official MLBPA licensing. It looks like caricatured baseball, along with the sport’s core tenants. If pro sports games stayed on a path inspired by 16-bit, this is where they’d end up. Super Mega Baseball 2’s clever, vivaciously paced take recalls that arcade charm, but upping the technique of a batter/pitcher duel. The spirit of timing, skill, baseball logic, patience and more matter. It’s not only about muscling through nine innings – although there’s plenty of that – but managing slumps and playtime too.
It’s pop art baseball primarily, intelligently designed. For all of its simulation masterwork, MLB: The Show needs to take notes. The fielding simplicity, with animation cues to line up with pop flys (instead glowing indicators) and smart risk/reward throwing add layers to Super Mega Baseball 2. That’s all better than The Show. That’s not a small statement.
Also note that in this world of machismo, women step up and play alongside their male counterparts. They pitch like demons and blast line drives as well as anyone else. Even crude gestures transfer over to female players. True equality on the diamond, because when baseball is this good, everyone deserves a shot.