Mario Sports Mix
If your anything like me, you don’t give a damn about sports in video games, and these casual gamer motion controlled Wii Sport titles are even less appealing. However, you’ll make one exception-Mario sport games. The loveable Nintendo mascot has been playing golf, tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball, Go Karting and even participated in the Olympic and Winter Olympic games-what an athlete! It’s a wonder how he still stays so chubby, or perhaps its from all the mushrooms and flowers he’s eating-what a strange diet ? Nevertheless, surely ‘Mario Sports’ should be a genre by now. Mario Sports mix brings back the 3 on 3 basketball with 3 other sports along side it- Volleyball, Hockey and Dodgeball. But is this game just the b-sides and leftovers of the sport series, or does it hold its own as a stand alone title?
Super Mario-The next Michael Jordan perhaps?
Mario Sports Mix is developed by Square Enix rather than Nintendo, (which is why characters from Final Fantasy and Dragon quest appear as unlockables, but we’ll get into that later) but unless you knew it you would never notice. Square Enix must be commended for their successful efforts at reproducing the Nintendo magic of presentation as they have executed it perfectly. Menus are simple and effective and the game is bright and inviting, just how a Mario game should be. On the other hand however, its nothing we havn’t seen before as it does feel quite a bit like you are navigating through another Mario Party or Mario Kart, but hey-if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Players begin by selecting which of the four sports they’d like to play, each with their own menu containing Exhibition and Tournament modes as well as a very clear and well done Tutorial section that works to be quite helpful. The Tournament brackets are very nicely presented, looking like a Mario Party board, with the leader of each sports team walking to each match. For com vs com matches, there is an animated fight between the two with the victor advancing to the next round as the other walks away in shame. Its a small touch, but its a nice one that keeps things more interesting that simple brackets. Before the starting of a tournament, there is a small cutscene with a basic storyline behind it, and upon completion of 3 tournaments in the sport you will see another one as well as collecting trophies and such. They are nothing outstanding, but its nice to see some cut scenes in a Mario game as they are rare, and they are a treat to watch. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending of the Star Cup is pretty awesome! Unfortunately there are no replay options which many find a standard in sports games these days. Memories of epic replays with 360 degree camera angles and slow motion replays from Mario Tennis 64 were awesome, why can’t we have stuff like that here? In general, like most Mario games, the presentation is very well done, simple, to the point, attractive and very effective, even if it isn’t anything too fresh.
Luigi always looked up to his older brother, even from the strangest places…
The gameplay of Mario Sports Mix is very varied depending on which sport you play. Most games have very similar controls, but each has a little twist to them. In general your mostly shaking the wiimote to preform various action such as taking a shot at a goal or defending against a shot and hitting a to pass. What really separates each sport from a typical sports game however is the ability to use items throughout a match. When players walk on a panel with a question mark they will get either get a coin or a random item. Items can be used to damage opponents or some how gain a temporal upper hand and coins add extra points to your score, except in dodgeball which add extra power to your attacks. Items arn’t as varied or numerous as they are in Mario Kart which is a shame, but the ones that are there do their job well. A stand out of the game is the special meter, with it building as you play. Upon filling the meter players can preform a special ability which is unique to each character. These moves are especially fun to do can can dramatically turn a game around. Basketball is easily the best of the bunch, as it never gets old and is always a blast to play. However, a few of the other sports arn’t as fun, and it sometimes feels like the basketball section of the game just carries the others-mostly hockey and volleyball. Volleyball is still alot of fun, it just unfortunately feels very repetitive after about 20 minuets as there isn’t really much to do in it. It still is fun, just in short bursts rather than playing it constantly. Hockey is a little to frantic, while the controls are nice the camera is cruel, as it doesn’t even follow the puck (or coin in this games case). Players will constantly be asking “where is my character?” and with everything flying around so quickly it can easily overwhelm you, but if the camera would simply just follow the puck/coin, it would surely be alot more enjoyable. Thankfully, dodgeball is also alot of fun, and a close contender against basketball. Action is swift, chaotic and fun, and the ability to get a team member back in after they have been ‘outed’ really helps to keep players on edge. Ontop of all this there is a party mode with four mini games each based respectively on each sport. sadly, most of these arn’t very great but still are forth checking out, and feel like rejected Mario Party mini games. If there were more variety of mini games to choose from it’d be more forgiving, but only four which dont even come close to competing with the game itself isn’t much of a reason to play.
Oh didn’t you hear? Not only is Yoshi a dinosaur with a giant tongue who can drive go karts and play sports, but he is also a Super Sayian!
Characters are split into four categories: Speedy, All-Rounder, Powerful and Technical, and they are all done evenly so its a fair mix. While there is a variety of characters to choose from, the selection of characters isn’t as wide as many other Mario Sport games. There is, however, four unlockable Square Enix characters which is a nice surprise, and you can play as your Mii from the get go which is always fun to do. The only problem through, is that you have to unlock each character four times-once for each sport, which can be highly frustrating. Stages are a bright highlight of the game, and really save the game for the most part from feeling too repetitive in some really creative ways. Most but not all courts appear in multiple sports, which can lead to some very interesting transfers. For example in DK Dock for volleyball each half of the court will sway horizontally making landing the ball in the court harder, while in basketball a similar twist will occur with the hoops often swaying away from players making slam dunking difficult. Daisy Garden is another fine example, with players shooting the ball in basketball into Petey Piranha’s mouth instead of a hoop when his mouth is open, while in dodgeball players can feed the ball to him and he may spit it out an opponent. Most courts have interesting twists about them that make them stand out, freshening the game in creative little ways that make the simple gameplay feel less repetitive and more fun. Oddly the better stages need to be unlocked, and you begin with some of the games later stages, so you are encouraged to keep playing to unlock levels. It feels very rewarding and really adds to the multiplayer aspect of the game, and since you can enter tournaments as multiplayer, it really makes things fun. On the other hand though, it would’ve been nice to have some of the more complex stages available at first, as it would grab the player into the game more.
Koopa Troopa Beach is a simple yet fun court to play on, with green shells constantly washing up on shore to be used as weapons.
One of the biggest downfalls of this title however is it’s difficulty level. It is most likely one of the most easiest games I’ve ever played in my life, and sadly Im not over exaggerating by much. On the easy difficulty level, you can score a few points, put down the controller and not play the rest of the game in some sports and still have a chance of winning at times. On this difficulty level the game feels like a chore like your just doing task after task for next to no reason. Sadly, normal isn’t much of a step up. On hard things get alot more fun, and after you’ve learnt the controls well, I recommend playing on this difficulty level as the game is alot more fun this way. There is also an expert difficulty to choose as well, but you really do have to be an expert to compete on that level, so the difficulty levels variety does feel a little bit unblanced. However the game’s AI is not the focus of the game-the multiplayer is. This game was manufactured with four friends sitting around a couch playing together. On single player, there will be times where the game feels like it sucks, but when its player vs player, all hell breaks loose. Everyone will be laughing and yelling and having a great time-that same experience you get when playing other classic Nintendo party games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers. The multiplayer is outrageously fun with teamwork being very helpful. Multiplayer really makes the game for the most part and is a delight to play. There is also a really good multiplayer for this title which is seldom in a wii game, and is definitely worth checking out.
‘Out-ed’ players in dodgeball can still attack players. If they successfully hit someone, they get back in the game!
Graphics and Audio
The graphics are bright colourful and full of charm, just as a Mario game should be and are beautiful by all standards. On the other hand though, it’s doesn’t look like the developers have made any attempt at improving the graphics from previous titles-it looks just like every other Mario game. This isn’t a bad thing however as Nintendo fans will know that the franchise’s cute and simple graphical design always looks great-just don’t expect anything new or different in this game. The stages though are very detailed and even more wonderful looking, a very impressive view. The soundtrack isn’t as memorable as most of Mario’s gaming moments, but it does have a couple of stand out tracks. They do set the mood well, but don’t expect to be singing along all the time.
Basketball is easily the highlight of Mario Sports Mix for one simple reason: It’s pretty damn fun to play!
Mario Sports Mix has alot of features which could’ve easily been expanded upon, which is a shame because if it was just a little bit deeper it could’ve made the game so much more fun. However all the faults of the game are very minor ones, and the pros definitely outweigh the cons. If your the type of player who is into realistic sport games or playing games alone, I do not recommend this title. But if you love party games and playing with friends and family, this title is definitely worth a buy, or at least a rent. Don’t get it twisted though-this is an awesome multiplayer party game. In fact, if it was on PS3 or Xbox 360 it’d easily be one of the best of the genre for the console and a must buy. However, Mario has a reputation to live up too when it comes to multiplayers, parties and sports and this one just doesn’t live up to the extremly high, almost unfair standards the loveable plumber has set for himself. Hopefully Mario Sports Mix is just the beginning of a new franchise as this title has shown so much potential, it just needs to fix up a few things. It is still a very good multiplayer game, especially during Dodgeball and Basketball that will surely entertain you and your mates for a while, and will easily provide a few good laughs, which is what all video games should be aiming for: a bloody good time!
- It’s a him! Mario!
- Easy, simple, pick up and play gameplay with a well done tutorial
- Great presentation
- Awesome multiplayer
- Decent online multiplayer
- Cool items
- Special moves
- Epic stages/courts
- Play as your Mii!
- Unlockable Square Enix characters
- Unbalanced difficulty
- Some sports arn’t as great as others
- Disappointing party mode/mini games
- No replay options
- Can feel repetitive at times
- Soundtrack is good, but not as classic as a Mario game should be.
- Unlocking characters four times each for each sport can be a chore.