Publisher Namco has done a great service by making this game feel like a first-party Nintendo game by using all the great Mario characters with a nice polish. Following in the footsteps of Mario Superstar Baseball, Mario Super Sluggers takes the best part of its predecessor and molds them to the Wii's controller. You can play exhibition games on Princess Peach's new baseball island resort, or in a RPG-type challenge mode where that rascal Bowser Jr. causes players mayhem. There is also a collection of mini games that hone your basic baseball skills and a welcome return of Toy Field, which adds a dash of darts to the pitch-and-hit experience.
As with any good sequel, this game will make you feel at home if you enjoyed Mario Superstar Baseball. Most of that game's features are included in the Wii version, such as character-based special moves, gimmicky player fields, and, of course, the mini games that seem to be in every Mario title. There are a few changes like different mini games and some simple puzzles that populate the challenge mode. If you liked the chemistry between players, then you will love the new expanded buddy moves that make playing with a friend a great experience.
The control scheme has changed quite a bit from the last game. This title is like a lot of Nintendo's crossover titles, designed to entice the casual gamer as well as the hardcore folks. The casual sort can use the Wii remote and have the Wii control moves like running bases and racing after fly balls, while the more hardcore player can use the nunchuck to make more controlled use of the players' actions for more precise plays. Players use the Wii remote to pitch and hit in both schemes.
With every good addition to a series, there seems to be a pitfall, and this title is no exception. The challenge mode seems to be a bit shallow; you tend to do a lot of wandering around when not completing simple tasks. To find or open areas in the game, you have to switch characters due to their abilities and that gets kinda tiresome. Puzzles drag things on more than enhance. Namco has padded the selection of players, but a lot of them feel very similar to each other in their abilities.
Super Mario Sluggers is not a fantastic game, but it's not like a lot of the crap that Nintendo has been shelling out with third-party developers either. If you have never played the first Mario baseball game, then this might be in your ballpark - but this is just a padded sequel. If you are playing this game mostly alone, then it will get old fast. The more players you have, the better. Still, this might be a better rental than a purchase.