Mario Superstar Baseball is a sports game that was developed by Namco and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube in 2005. The game was created in the vein of other Mario sports games such as Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and Mario Power Tennis. This game is now a Player's Choice title. The game was the first Mario game that Namco fully developed on any platform. The game features over thirty characters as they play baseball through many different courses. It also features many modes, and mini-games. This game has a sequel, Mario Super Sluggers, for the Wii in 2008. Some of character's voice clips are reused from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
A single game of baseball, players choose the Team Captain and a roster of players, and play one game. Players can also choose how many innings the game will last, and pick their choice out of six unique stadiums.
The heart of Mario Superstar Baseball is the Challenge Mode. It is a single-player mode where the player selects a pre-built team and must defeat all the other teams; at first Bowser's team is the last team to beat for the cup, and must be unlocked before the player can use him. There are six teams, each led by one of the Captains (Mario, Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Wario, and Bowser), features a secondary captain (Luigi, Daisy, Birdo, Diddy Kong, Waluigi, and Bowser Jr.), and is filled with a mix of sub characters, some of which are duplicated within a team, but do not appear on any other team. For example, Mario's team consists of Mario, Luigi, Monty Mole, three Piantas and three Nokis, Princess Peach's team consists of Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toadette, Toadsworth, and five Toads, Wario's team consists of Wario, Waluigi, Boo, King Boo, Petey Piranha, and four Magikoopas, Yoshi's team consists of Yoshi, Birdo, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, and five Shy Guys, Donkey Kong's team consists of Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, Goomba, Paragoomba, two Koopa Troopas, and two Koopa Paratroopas and Bowser's team consists of Bowser, Bowser Jr., four Dry Bones, Hammer Bro, Fire Bro, and Boomerang Bro.
Players challenge the other teams, beating the other four opens the path to Bowser's castle. The secondary purpose of defeating other teams is to recruit other characters to improve ones team. On opposing teams, each character has a set of scouting flags. During the game players will have mission objectives like "Strike 'em out", or "Score a run", that earn flags; if one gets all the flags of a particular character and wins the game, that character will be recruited. Flags are cumulative, so if the player doesn't get all the flags in a game, or loses the game after getting all the flags, the flags earned will remain when the team is challenged again; a team can be challenged as long as the captain of the team is not recruited. Players of a different color (such as Purple Toad and Yellow Magikoopa) can't be recruited and can only be played in mini-games and playing with the teams they start on (ex. Green Toad with Peach).
If the team captain is recruited, his or her team will disband; any characters from that team that were not recruited will join a team led by Bowser Jr. Another way to recruit characters is by a mercy win; if either team is leading by at least ten runs at the end of an inning, the game is called out of mercy to the losing team. If the player wins a game in this fashion, all characters on the opposing team will be so impressed that they will immediately join.
After every game or mini-game, Bowser Jr. will wander around the map; if the player runs into him, they will be forced to play a game in the bottom of the 9th inning, with the player randomly chosen as visitor or home. If the player's team is the visiting team, then they will have the lead and must stop Bowser Jr. from mounting a comeback; otherwise, it is the player's job to mount a comeback. Beating Bowser Jr. earns the player one hundred Coins to use in the shop, while losing costs the player half their Coins. It should be noted that if you have an odd Coin count and you challenge Bowser Jr. and lose, your Coins will be rounded up (ex: if you have 101 Coins and lose, you will have 51 Coins, not 50). Bowser Jr.'s team also has players from disbanded teams that the player can recruit; in which case the only mission objective is "Win the game.".
There is a shop located on the map for purchasing power-ups, each worth a certain number of coins that the player earns from the mini-games or Bowser Jr. In order for a Captain to use their special abilities, they must be purchased from the shop; these power-ups are permanent, and can be carried over into other Challenge Mode games by continuing from a previously cleared game. Other power-ups offer a temporary boost to a stat for all characters on their team, but they only last for one game, win or lose. Toad runs the shop.
Another goal during Challenge Mode is the Superstar quest; each character has a set of requirement that earn Stars. If a character meets all of his or her requirements, then the character upgrades to a Superstar, and gets a boost in all their abilities. Also, once a character becomes a Superstar, the Superstar version of the character can be used in other game modes. There's a simple way to figure out the number of superstar missions per player. The captain of the team has 10 missions. The 2nd captain has eight. Minor characters have six. And characters of race (excluding Monty Mole who has six) have four. Note that players like Red Koopa and Black Shy Guy can be unlocked by completing the main changing color player like Blue Pianta and Blue Noki.
There are four difficulty settings for challenge mode that are similar to those of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! - Mushroom (easy), Flower (medium), Star (hard), and Special (very hard). On Mushroom, Flower, and Star difficulty setting, you challenge four other teams that you will play three innings. After each team has been beaten at least once, you can play Bowser for five innings. On Special difficulty setting, the innings change: you challenge four other teams that you will play 5 innings, then beat Bowser's team that you will play seven innings. Once the player clears Special difficulty, then Bowser is selectable as a team captain. When using him as a team captain, the rules slightly change: Bowser has to beat the initial five teams, then face a team composed of Mario and eight other captains (One character is exempt at random); Bowser can still recruit other characters, except the captains and sub-captains; and Bowser Jr. does not wander the map to challenge a player.
Using four players and a metallic field decked with large buttons (reminiscent of the old "pitch and bat" machines), players will either gain or lose Coins depending on where the ball lands. There are several types of spaces the player can land on.
When the ball is put into play, the player that retrieves the ball before it runs out of momentum will bat next. If the batters strikes out, the pitcher bats next. If the batter is struck out, they must give the pitcher 30 coins. If a batter is directly caught out, they must give the catcher 50 Coins. If the ball is not caught before it runs out of momentum or 4 ball results are pitched, the batter gets another turn. The player with the most coins at the end of the game is the winner. The player gets to choose how many turns the game will last.
- Mario Stadium
- Peach Garden
- Wario Palace
- Yoshi Park
- Donkey Kong Jungle
- Bowser's Castle (unlockable after completing the easy mode of Story Mode)
- Toy Field
- Bob-omb Derby - Hit homers with Bob-ombs using a charged swing to gain points. King Bob-omb makes an appearance as one of the Bob-ombs. Anything other than a homer is worth nothing. The player must score enough points to win. Note that F.L.U.D.D. is pitching. When this is for one to four players, only one person gets three turns.
- Wall Ball - Pitch balls to break walls. The walls with musical notes on them are worth the most points if hit last, and hitting one of the Bowser walls last causes the player to lose points. The player with the most points after three pitching rounds wins. This is for only one player on special difficulty.
- Chain Chomp Sprint - The player must collect as many diamonds as he/she can by running around the bases. Chain Chomp is on the lose, the player must stop in order to avoid it. When caught, the Chain Chomp will steal some of the player's diamonds. The player with the most diamonds wins.
- Piranha Panic - Throw the colored eggs to its correctly colored Piranha Plant. Any egg can be thrown at the giant purple Piranha Plant. The player must be careful of the fire the Piranha Plants spit out when he/she throws an egg at the different colored Piranha Plant and other player's Bob-ombs. The player with the most points wins.
- Barrel Batter - The Player must hit as many barrels as possible to gain points. After a certain number of barrels are blown, a special barrel appears for one pitch only. Hitting it destroys all the barrels. Get enough points to win. When this is for one to four players, only one person gets three turns.
- Star Dash - (unlocked by completing challenge mode once on any level) The player must collect as many Coins as he/she can as they are shot out of a Coin Generator. Mushrooms sometimes come out, too. Red ones give the player a speed boost, while purple ones slow the player down. Stars will also sometimes appear. When someone touches a Star, they become temporarily invincible, and can run into other characters to knock them out and steal their Coins and can knock through obstacles (The Coin Generator doesn't count). The player with the most Coins wins.
- Grand Prix - (unlocked by completing almost all of the mini-games in single-player special mode) All mini-games are randomly chosen for player to place first out of four. First place is 10 points, second place is seven points, third place is three points, and last place is zero points. If playing against a computer, it is automatically on special difficulty. The winner is whoever has the most points after all mini-games are played.
This is where players can practice the various controls for Mario Superstar Baseball. This includes batting, pitching, running, and fielding.
Playing as Bowser
When playing as Bowser the other teams invade your castle, and you must beat them in a game of baseball to win your castle back. Bowser can win any character except Captains and Sub Captains. Because Bowser Jr. is on his team, he does not meander the board searching for a quick game.
- Mario - Special Ball: Fireball
- Luigi - Special Ball: Green Fireball
- Princess Daisy - Special Ball: Flower Ball
- Birdo - Special Ball: Weird Egg
- Toad - Comes in colors: Red, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Green
- Shy Guy - Comes in colors: Red, Blue, Yellow, Black, Green
- Koopa Troopa - Comes in colors: Green, Red
- Princess Peach - Special Ball: Heart Ball
- Waluigi - Special Ball: Liar Ball
- Dixie Kong - (unlockable)
- Paratroopa - Comes in colors: Green, Red
- Magikoopa - Comes in colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, Green
- Dry Bones - Comes in colors: White, Green, Red, Blue
- Yoshi - Special Ball: Egg Ball
- Diddy Kong - Special Ball: Booomerang Ball
- Baby Mario
- Baby Luigi - (unlockable)
- Toadette - (unlockable)
- Monty Mole - (unlockable)
- Noki - Comes in colors: Blue, Red, Green
- Donkey Kong - Special Ball: Banana Ball
- Bowser - Special Ball: Killer Ball
- Bowser Jr. - Special Ball: Killer Jr. Ball
- Wario - Special Ball: Phony Ball
- King Boo
- Petey Piranha - (unlockable)
- Pianta - Comes in colors: Red, Blue, Yellow
- Hammer Bro. (unlockable) - Comes in Hammer bro (green), boomerang bro (blue) and fire bro (red).
Chemistry is a unique feature to Mario Superstar Baseball. Player chemistry emphasizes the relationships between characters. When forming a team, the relationship status between the captain and his teammates affects the number of power stars the team starts with. Additionally, in the game, good chemistry occurs with two friends. When a player throws a ball to his "buddy", the ball travels faster than a normal throw would. Additionally, a player hits better when one of his friends are on base. Examples are Mario and Luigi, Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong, Yoshi and Baby Luigi, Bowser and Bowser Jr, and Goomba and Monty Mole. Good chemistry is symbolized by a musical note.
Bad chemistry occurs conversely. When a character throws a ball to a character he or she dislikes, the ball travels more slowly and is sometimes out of line. Bad chemistry is symbolized when a small zigzag line appears next to the players. Examples of bad chemistry include Mario and Bowser, Wario and Peach, Waluigi and Daisy, and Luigi and King Boo.
- Despite every other character in the video game speaking, Mario is the only one that doesn't, even when talked to, his word balloon is completely blank. This is possibly because Mario never has had an in game conversation other than speaking in an unexplainable language in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.
- This is the first Mario game with Piantas as playable characters.
- Charles Martinet: Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Toadsworth
- Jen Taylor: Princess Peach, Toad, Toadette, Dixie Kong
- Scott Burns: Bowser, Pianta
- Dolores Rogers: Bowser Jr.
- Deanna Mustard: Princess Daisy
- Kazumi Totaka: Yoshi
- Isaac Marshall: Birdo
- Takashi Nagasako: Donkey Kong
The game received generally positive reviews:
- IGN - 7.9/10
- GameSpy - 4 out of 5
- GameSpot - 8/10
- Electronic Gaming Monthly - 7/10
- Game Informer - 7/10
- Eurogamer - 6/10
- GameTrailers - 8.5/10
- Nintendo Power - 9/10
- Game Rankings - 77% after 46 reviews.
- G-Phoria's Best Alternative Sports Game for 2006