Major League: Super Mega Baseball - Extra Innings
Homer, sweet homer
There are two great baseball series in the world. The PC is home to the brilliantly in-depth management simulation Out of the Park, which features the actual state of play in several countries worldwide as well as endless customisable fictional leagues. Then there's the Playstation exclusive MLB: The Show series, which I'm tempted to refer to as the FIFA of baseball games until I remind myself how much richer than FIFA the experience has been in recent years (disclaimer: I haven't played the 2015 version).
If you don't have a Sonybox and fancy some hands-on slugging rather than the number-crunching management of OOTP, recently released Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings [official site] should scratch that particular (p)itch.
It's an unlicensed cartoon-styled arcade game that I assumed would be quite lean, but its full length matches, stat-tracking and season mode provide plenty to chew on. The customisable players look like half-melted bobblehead toys that have been animated by some dark art. That's a good thing. Each player is immediately distinctive and you can populate your team with exaggerated versions of just about any celebrity or acquaintance. Third in my lineup is a slugger who hits home runs almost every time she reaches the plate and looks like a faintly terrifying version of my diminutive mother.
Because of the goofy graphics, I expected the baseball equivalent of NBA Jam, with overblown animations and sporting magical realism. Super Mega Baseball is actually a thorough baseball game, action-based with minimal roster management, but with a fairly serious take on the rules and details of play. Baserunners can be controlled, pitching requires strategy as well as accuracy, and batting involves looking at balls (calm down) as well as bunting and swinging for the fences.
A lovely alternative to the intensity of Out of the Park and more than a cartoon curiosity.
Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings is £12.74 right now on Steam, thanks to a launch discount, but will usually cost £14.99.