Super Mario Baseball for Wii

Make America's game a year-round sport with Mario, Luigi, and Donkey Kong, as you slug, pitch, and catch using Nintendo's motion-sensitive controller

Summer is the perfect time to head outside and play ball, but what will you do once this glorious season ends? Nintendo may just have the answer with its upcoming Wii baseball game Mario Super Sluggers, due for release at the end of August. It looks like a modified version of its previous GameCube release Mario Superstar Baseball, but with a few upgrades that make it feel right at home on the Wii.

Players choose from various characters from Mario's universe, including friends (his brother Luigi, the helpful Toad), enemies (the menacing Bowser and the grunting Donkey Kong) or the mustached plumber himself. Each character shows a genuine spark of personality in every aspect of their design. They each have their own special run and each carries a their own bat to the plate, such as the Hammer Bros.' big hammer or Donkey Kong's boxing glove.

Anyone familiar with Mario Superstar Baseball will find the rules familiar. You spend one half of the inning pitching to opponents and hoping your infielders can grab the ball before it manages to leave the park. In the other half, you'll swing away at balls and trick pitches in the hopes of scoring a base hit—or maybe even a home run. What's different about Sluggers, however, is its emphasis on motion-sensitive controls. You'll pitch utilizing a standard throwing technique, starting with a holding stance with the Wii remote in your hands and coming through with an overhead throwing motion. You can change the nature of your pitch by twisting the remote midway through, turning it into a curveball or a slider in the process. The A and B buttons add spice to each pitch, letting you add fiery effects to it. Over on the batting side, you perform swinging motions to make contact with the ball and can hit the trigger and A buttons for additional power.

Along with the usual assortment of Nintendo alumni, Mario Super Sluggers also allows you to implement your own Mii characters into the action. This gives you the chance to shine amongst Nintendo's best and score a few home runs on your own accord. The game should also keep track of your personal stats, in case you feel like boasting to fellow baseball players in your household. The game features nine stadiums to play in. These include an urban landscape and a castle made entirely of ice. No doubt that'll make the run around the bases a little more slippery than usual.

Seeing as how Nintendo hasn't made mention of any Wi-Fi supported features, it's looking like Sluggers won't have any online support. However, up to four players will be able to take the field in local off-line play, so there won't be any shortage of party fun around the house. Furthermore, the game will also include various mini-games for up to four players, including batting contests, pitching contests, and the return of the Home Run Derby. If the events featured in Mario Superstar Baseball give any indication of what we can expect, Sluggers should provide many fun days in the park. We just hope there are some unlockable rewards as well, such as bonus characters or stadiums.

Mario Super Sluggers may not be the most original sports game Nintendo could muster, but it looks to be an entertaining one. We'll see if this Wii game hits a home run when it arrives in late August.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.