Mario Hoops 3 on 3 (Nintendo DS) Second Opinion Review

By Phil Beveridge 09.08.2006

Mario has himself dabbled in many sporting activities, starting with Golf and Tennis on the Nintendo 64, and more recently Football and Baseball. But can is first sports title for the DS, Mario Hoops 3 on 3, developed by the world-renowned Square Enix, live up to the other classic titles? Read this import review by Phil Beveridge (Phil :: CSF) to find out...

Like all good Nintendo DS games, Mario Hoops 3 on 3 makes full use of the touch screen, using it as the main method of controlling how your character handles the ball. Combined with using the D-pad to control movement, this plays smoothly and is easy to pick up, even if someone has never played a basketball game before (like me). Tapping the touch screen dribbles the ball while moving, giving you full control of where the ball is, handy for preventing any oncoming defenders. Any shots are made with a stroke of a stylus in a direction - use this to pass the ball to another one of your team mates, take a shot for the hoop, or do an upwards stroke near the hoop to dunk it into the basket. Defending is all about strokes with the stylus as well, using them to jump, attack, and even pick up and fire weapons such as the classic green shells. Although the controls can be versatile, you'll end up cursing at the screen when the console doesn't pick up one of your strokes, the downside of the technology.

Screenshot for Mario Hoops 3 on 3 on Nintendo DS

The main game consists of the tournament mode, which tests you against other teams in a variety of different and varied courts from around the Mushroom Kingdom. Win 3 matches, and you've won the trophy! In actual play, the controls feel fluid (like they should), but my DS Lite does seem to be uncomfortable... after 3 games, I have to put it down and give my hand a rest. The matches are much like classic Mario Kart (if that makes sense), and is based on a coin system. Dribble on a '?' sign laying on the ground or attack the opposition to build up coins in your bank, then when you score, the number of coins you have (plus another twenty for the shot) are added to your score. This makes the gameplay more varied than just shoot-steal-shoot-steal-shoot, and you have to actually think before making a shot. Also included are all the classic Mario Kart weapons, such as banana skins, lightning, and even blue homing shells making gameplay fun and frantic.

Screenshot for Mario Hoops 3 on 3 on Nintendo DS

The incentive of the Tournament mode is to unlock new characters for your team, including a selection from the final fantasy series of games, provided by the guys over at Square Enix, who also developed the game. Picking your team is essential to progress - some people such as Wario are more powerful, which is great for defending, but they're slow as hell. It's best to get a well rounded team, and to pass the ball often. When defending, you can use the L-button to switch between characters, giving you full control (If you're left-handed, the controls can be switched to the other side of the console in the options menu). In addition, each character has a special move, powered by tapping certain areas on the screen. For example, with Mario you need to tap out the 5 points of the letter 'M' over and over. Although fiddly and time consuming, this helps gain a guaranteed shot and earns more coins for your team, as well as a graphically-fantastic display.

Screenshot for Mario Hoops 3 on 3 on Nintendo DS

The graphics in this game are fully 3D, and look great (as we've come to expect from Square Enix over the past few years). The game makes full use of the graphical capabilities of the DS, and provides no slowdown even with six characters and a host of weapons flying round the screen. Is this a taster of what to expect with Final Fantasy III? There's no slowdown during the wireless multiplayer either, one of the features that people will be buying the game for. Up to four players can play together, creating great multiplayer possibilities. Or if you don't have anyone else with a DS available, pit yourself against a CPU opponent easily for a quick game of three on three. Another thing to notice is the sound, which included all the Mario universe noises you know, as well as some snazzy Japanese singing on the main menu.

Overall, I think this is a great game, even if you don't like basketball. But like any other DS game, I'd recommend playing it in short bursts; otherwise you'd end up doing the same thing over and over again - not that it's not fun, it can just be a little tiresome. But that aside, the graphics can't be faulted, and the control system is new and unique.

Screenshot for Mario Hoops 3 on 3 on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A new and refreshing sports game - this is not one to be overlooked. Even if you don't like basketball, I would still recommend this to anyone who is looking for an exciting and thrilling new DS game. This game should be out in the UK by about October/November, so not a long wait!

Also known as

Mario Hoops 3 on 3


Square Enix







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (21 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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