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Mario Sports Mix (Wii) Review

Review for Mario Sports Mix on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Mushroom Kingdom is an odd place isn't it? Putting aside that it is home to a plumber who does very little in the way of plumbing, that you can merrily stomp turtles with gay abandon, that there are warp whistles, evil funghi, a princess with a worryingly light security detail and bricks that spout currency when you punch them, the inhabitants of this fine land enjoy an inordinate amount of sports. Characters that have previously been mortal foes are happy to set aside their differences in the name of baseball, soccer and the odd round of golf, leaving the stresses of eight worlds of warfare behind for a spot of tennis. Sportsmanship in 'the MK' is extremely important, it would seem.

Enter Mario Sports Mix, a collection of four activities that have previously missed out on fully fledged Nintendoed-up releases on home consoles: basketball, dodgeball, volleyball and hockey. "What a bargain!" is the first thought that comes to mind when holding it in your hands at the local game store. "Four complete sports experiences in the vein of Mario Tennis et al, for the cost of just one!" And on the surface, that's what you're getting. These aren't mini-games by any stretch of the imagination - though there are also a handful of those included in the package - these are fully fledged Mario universe versions of the globally recognised sports, each with three tournaments, several levels of difficulty and a healthy selection of your favourite characters to participate in them with.

Screenshot for Mario Sports Mix on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Of course it isn't quite as simple as that. If it was, I wouldn't have used that "I'm speaking as a consumer" voice earlier, would I? The reason you're getting a number of titles on one disc is simply that individually they wouldn't pack as much clout. Who buys a dodgeball game post-Kunio-kun? Where's the mass market appeal of a volleyball title without digitised boobies? Even basketball and hockey aren't as popular amongst the game playing public as they once were, a lesson that EA Sports and 2K have learned the hard way. Yet even if they were still commercially viable in the sports game market, these renditions of them feel just a little too shallow to pack up and ship out on their own.

This issue mainly stems from their pick-up-and-play nature; they're very quick to learn, yet they're also all very easy to master. This ease of access is initially very welcome though, everything is learned rapidly and the controls feel natural, to the point that within no time you'll be discovering effects of button combinations you didn't know existed. Using the standard Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, holding A will set up tag team shots, slam dunking / throwing / thwacking is assigned to a cheeky waggle, swapping characters is on C and the analogue stick lends a precision to movement missing from the evergreen Wii Sports. In no time you'll be moving around the themed arenas with grace, confidant in your actions, leaving all other thoughts to strategy.

Screenshot for Mario Sports Mix on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Which is where Mario Sports Mix fumbles the ball. The AI is laughably poor and completely predictable throughout; from the first tournament to the last on normal difficulty, you'll be unlucky if your opponents ever put up any resistance, relying on their tried and tested methods of play. In basketball for example, it wasn't until tournament three where the opposing team presented almost any challenge, and even then victories were clear cut. Things get interesting as environmental obstacles get placed in your way, hockey goals blocked by cones that must be removed from play by a well placed shot and followed up with a quick snap to the back of the net, or fountains intermittently raising and lowering themselves in volleyball to keep you on your toes. These also go to add a lot of variation that isn't usually found in your average sports game - all just part of the charm of a modern Nintendo sports title.

Screenshot for Mario Sports Mix on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

This issue of intelligence is of course circumvented when you take the title online. The net code is clearly refined, connections I experienced were solid throughout, even when multiple players on one console challenged my squad of finely tuned mushroom munching athletes and, as with fighting games, it's only when you're up against a human opponent that your skills are truly tested. Mario Sports Mix seems fairly well balanced and two evenly matched teams makes for a far more tense, enjoyable experience than the single player. If you intend to make the game a regular shared experience, you can probably add a point or two to the score you'll find at the end of this review.

That old Nintendo charm is still present and correct, textures are clean and bright, animations range from the slick to the plain adorable and though it's sonically a little uninspired, there are a few decent interpretations of the toadstool oeuvre. Nestled amongst the Mario magic is also a little Chocobo charm, as a number of Square-Enix characters pop up throughout. Though one questions why one should be rewarded for success at the Mushroom Tournament with a playable Moogle character - characters you'll have to unlock for each sport individually - they fit well amongst Luigi and the gang.

Screenshot for Mario Sports Mix on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Earns its Nintendo Seal of Quality, but never takes its base mechanics as far as you might like.

Graphics

Have you played a Mario sports title before? It looks like that.

Sound

Inoffensive takes on the classics, you won't be rushing out to buy the soundtrack though.

Value

You'll want to keep it around for multiplayer sessions and the occasional online match up, but expect the disc confined to the shelf in under two weeks if you're going solo.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Mario Sports Mix is a solid title but by no means is it astounding. It lacks the focus or complexity of a Toadstool Tournament or Power Tennis, opting instead for a more casual focused crowd that want a bit more than Wii Sports Resort can offer. Fun? Yes. Lasting fun? Not so much.

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05.02.2011

4

10278

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Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

4

Online enabled

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?
Kayriss (guest) 05.02.2011 15:38#1

Every review says this game's pretty boring single played, but I've played the japanese version alone and I would spend hours after work playing the game for weeks untill my copy broke.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Wow, surprised to see it getting a 7/10...bored the hell out of Mason and I when we tried it at the Eurogamer Expo. Far too basic to be real fun.

Camelot's Mario sport titles are still the best in my books.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I liked its simplicity to an extent, but you're right, it is VERY basic. The multiplayer gave it a lot more legs though and is absolutely where the real meat of the game is.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think what happened is that both Mike and I were so negative about the game from the time we spent with it, that my opinion has been well and truly tainted.

Shame, because I enjoyed Mario Basket 3-on-3 for DS.

Cheers for the review Smilie Gives people a very fair idea of what to expect, which is going to prove useful since I can see this emulating the success it's had in Japan so far over here in Europe and the US.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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