Mario Super Sluggers is a Mario-themed version of the Wii Sports baseball minigame. Alas, unlike that popular game that showed off the Wii Remote's capabilities, Super Sluggers is a promising prospect that falls just short of making it to the big leagues.

While players gushed about the amazing pitching and hitting in Wii Sports baseball, it was missing two other essential aspects of the sport: fielding and base-running. There's a reason Nintendo probably didn't try to take on those aspects - they're ridiculously difficult to get right. By stripping out those parts, Nintendo saved itself a lot of headaches and freed itself up to focus on the two aspects of baseball that were more conducive to the Wii experience.

But developer Namco Bandai doesn't get a free pass in Sluggers. It had to include fielding and base-running and they really dropped the ball. Sport games developers have struggled with crafting a good defencive interface for years and Sluggers is saddled one of the worst I've ever experienced. Poor design is a root cause but the main culprit is Mario Super Sluggers' control scheme.

Mario Super Sluggers offers you three different control options - you can hold the Wii Remote vertically, which approximates most of Wii Sports Baseball's control scheme complete with semi-automated fielding and running; you can hold the Wii Remote horizontally, which crams far too many actions on to too few buttons; or you can use the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, which throws clunky motion controls into the mix.

The Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo is by far the most palatable, but it doesn't feel right; flicking the remote to throw feels especially unnatural. Why Namco didn't take a page from the Mario Kart playbook and let you use the Classic Controller or the GameCube controller is beyond me.

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