The 21st century brought about unbelievable advancements in the field of video gaming. We’ve gone from playing the original Sims on a PlayStation 2 to playing Rocket League on all platforms with HD picture quality. But what if I told you we’ve regressed? What if the greatest game to ever reign may be stashed away somewhere in your parents’ closet collecting dust?
In 2005, former Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima launched GameCube’s finest masterpiece: Mario Superstar Baseball. If your reaction was, “Oh, yeah! I loved Super Sluggers,” then I’m going to stop you right there. Super Sluggers, while still a Mario family baseball game, is the version that appears on the Wii. If Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Super Sluggers could physically fight, Bowser would have to intervene before Superstar hospitalizes Sluggers.
The timeless classic — which I lovingly refer to as M.B. — is remarkably similar to real life baseball with a few added twists. The game is designed for a two player head-to-head matchup which always begins with a team draft. “Do you want Yoshi or the swing?” I would ask my opponents, as the snake draft almost always begins with the two best players, Yoshi and Birdo, as captains.
There are several reasons why these players are touted as the best in the game. For starters, they have eggs. Let me explain. Every captain-eligible player has a special superstar that can be used when the player is batting or pitching. For Birdo and Yoshi, their superstar ability turns the ball into an egg that sporadically bounces three times. This makes for an easy infield single or outfield double — and almost always gives batters RBI potential. Additionally, Yoshi has a tongue catch skill and Birdo has suction, meaning both players can catch a ball hit in their vicinity.
In the draft it is imperative to secure an array of players that can contribute to all aspects of the game: batting, fielding, star abilities, and chemistry. Based on characters’ interactions with other Mario-world characters, M.B. determines their chemistry with one another. For example, Luigi and Daisy have excellent chemistry seeing that they are a married couple. However, Luigi and Boo have terrible chemistry stemming from their rivalry in Luigi’s Mansion.
M.B. is an intuitive game. With the ability to move the ball as it is advancing towards the catcher, you have control over the speed and curvature of each pitch. In the field, you control every movement of the fielders and where they will throw. Clean fielding and quick decision making are an absolute must if you want to play at the top level. Additionally, the batter’s movements in the box, force of the swing, and complete control over baserunning give the player an incredible amount of agency within the game. In a nine inning game, every pitch, bat, star, and play in the field make a remarkable impact on the game, building the competitive energy between you and your human opponent.
Mario Superstar Baseball, to me, is the greatest video game of all time and creates a cutthroat atmosphere among all lucky enough to witness the poetry that is the game. M.B. is no longer produced and cannot be found at local video game shops, but after a quick internet search, the game can easily be ordered online for less than $20. Nothing compares to one-on-one games with your best buddy. Once the intricacies of the game are figured out and mastered by all parties, Mario Superstar Baseball can remain a permanent part of your friendship, as it is with many of mine.