I have a… complicated relationship with team sports. I mean, solo sports, no problem; swimming, bicycle, Just Dancing, even some of the sports that are practiced alone but could be played competitively, sure. I’ve held a real bow and arrow and aimed at a wooden target at least once in my life. But team sports, I always need reminders of the rules (when I learn them at all), can’t bother to remember the teams and players, I don’t find a lot of enjoyment in watching them. Yeah, I’m one of those guys who watches the SuperBowl only for the ads, and cares little about the game. The only exception may be hockey, since I’m Canadian, but even then I only care about hockey because it’s all over the goddarn news here, I know at least a few more players. Also, when our team, the Montreal Canadians, make it to the series, there’s an air of innate hope and happiness from just about everyone around me, and I find myself wrapped up in the hockey series hype. Well, until the Montreal Canadians lose, at least…
|Pictured: Stuff I pretty much never used in my life.|
…Nah, okay, I admit it, it was part of the Nintendo Selects brand and one of the cheaper Wii titles at the store, so I went ahead and bought it. True, I do like the Mario series enough to try its games, and I was intrigued by this one. I knew about Mario Superstar Baseball for the GameCube, and wanted to try the sequel. So hey, I knew what I was getting into. And it’s summertime, so I figured it was the perfect time to review this game. Shall we get to it?
|"I wonder what Peach has in store for us."|
"A giant cake?"
"Nintendo Hotels in a spa resort?"
"Yoshi?" ("The Boogeyman?")
You mean to tell me that Princess Peach, ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, had the money to order the creation of an artificial island, with all the infrastructure, workforce, resources and management implied by this, for the sole purpose of letting her friends play… baseball? Okay, I get that we needed a reason for the setting, but that’s just stupid.
|Shall we play The Price Is Right? How much do you think|
this island cost to make?
If you said "Too much"... you're right! Congrats!
Bleh, we’re not even past the intro and I am already annoyed. There is no logic in here! But it would be too long to discuss all of this. Let’s ignore the three hundred issues here for the sake of simplicity, okay? That’s alright Nico, your brain won’t explode with questions.
|At least the princesses of the Mario series are relaxed enough|
to be in more casual clothes when they're participating to
sport competitions. Take that, Zelda!
Yep. Feels totally like real baseball.
|Such magical pitches! So much fire!|
On the defense, you’re taught how to run towards the point where the ball lands when it was flung high, how to deal with a rolling ball (run to it, toss it to the nearest goal a player of the opposing team is trying to reach), how to catch balls by jumping or sliding on the ground, and how to fight back against the items tossed by the batting team. Oh yeah, there are items too. What, you’ve never seen players use a green shell in regular baseball? How to use them, though? I’ll go back to this soon. Other lessons reveal how to run between bases, what happens in case of a tight match between a running player and a ball about to be caught by a player on third base or on the marble, and how to steal bases.
|You can see the little musical note between the two.|
That's a sign that they're buddies.
Yup, we need buddy symbols now.
Good stuff, really; I like the whole chemistry aspect, it’s pretty clever. It really shows the thought put into the relationships between the various playable characters. The tricks added into the game to make use of said chemistry element are also interesting. They can turn the tide of a game if you know how to use these tricks well – as, obviously, in Story Mode the opponents will also get better and better at using them.
|Bowser Jr. is like that spoiled kid who sees something on TV,|
says he wants it, and his daddy immediately goes to get it
for him. Except, instead of toys, it's conquering kingdoms
and causing trouble.
Gotta weed the villains out of Baseball Kingdom, and what better place to start that the beach around the Mario Stadium? There are areas in the game that can be accessed only during Campaign mode, because they’re where the plot events happen. In there, we’re introduced to the true reason behind Campaign mode: Unlocking all the characters in the roster, for use in making baseball teams. This is done through interacting with the characters around an area. Near Mario Stadium, we get big Super Mario Sunshine vibes, as we meet again Nokis and Piantas, two resident “species” of Isle Delphino. We help a few on the beach, and they join the team. We also save Baby Luigi from being stuck on a dock disconnected from the land. After which, we show Bowser Jr. who’s boss, and he flees to the other areas of the Baseball Kingdom.
Oh, by the way, don’t expect everyone you meet to just join your team. No, you gotta PROVE that you’ve got what it takes! The three Nokis you meet on the beach will have little challenges for you. They’re basically like tutorials, but ones you’re forced to follow, unlike those in the Training Mode. Because everyone loves forced, unskippable tutorials, amirite?
There isn’t much of a story past this point, really. Mario goes from a baseball field to the other around the Baseball Kingdom, helps people, and finds baseball players for his team. That’s about it. We can now visit four more stadiums: Peach’s, Yoshi’s, Wario’s, and Donkey Kong’s. Let’s go in that order, shall we?
|Oh no! So what do we do now?|
I dunno... anyone has an anti-magic thingy?
|Never underestimate Peach's strength.|
She can punch the lights out of anyone.
...According to this game, anyway...
Either way, it’s now possible to challenge Bowser Jr. in his Toy Room. How about we do that in Part 2?