Review | Mario Sports Mix
Slam dunking Toads
Format: Wii | Genre: Sports | Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo | Release date: 4/02/2011| Price: £34.99
Greg Giddens kidnaps some ‘friends’ and plays countless matches in four frantic and exciting sports in MARIO SPORTS MIX.
THERE’S SOMETHING undeniably charming about Mario Sports Mix. Perhaps it’s the bright, welcoming colour palette or the Mushroom Kingdom itself; almost glowing in colour, warmth and cute characters. Or perhaps it’s witnessing Yoshi get pissed off to an incredible degree. Enough in fact to strike a puck straight down the ice from the other end of the Hockey rink to score, or even watching the unfathomable slam dunk from a Toad or Toadette. Whichever insane action, ridiculous matchup or devastating sporting defeat that you witness, charm is never in short supply.
Mario Sports Mix profits from this charm greatly. The whole experience raises a smile with its aesthetic and arcade mechanics. The sports ain’t bad either. Basketball, Ice Hockey, Dodgeball and Volleyball are all available to you. And whilst each has their obvious rule differences, the style of play is consistent. Simple controls allow you to pass, shoot and tackle with quick button presses or flicks of the wrist. Whilst special combination moves involving your entire team, and even super moves, allow for constant shifts in the momentum of a game which can drastically alter the scoreboard. The result is a frantic but fun experience with minimal frustration. In fact it’s one of the least competitive sporting games you’re likely to play. It’s a lot less about making great passes and scoring incredible goals, and a lot more about enjoying the spectacle of Bowser and Mario teaming up with your Mii against an equally unlikely team, and just having a blast.
Additional mechanics cement the arcade feel. Environment objects such as trains speeding through the pitch, turntables spinning you round and water moving the platforms, make each stadium dynamic and interesting. As well as power-up collectibles such as shells to chuck at the opposition, shrinking mushrooms, and better yet, coins. The coins you collect are added to your score the next time you score a point, meaning a deficit of 10 can easily be turned around with one more goal. Coming back from a sizeable deficit to beat an opponent is one hell of an experience, let me tell you. The look on your opponent’s face as you turn to them and grin is just magic. Each game can’t help but be incredibly dynamic and it results in crazy fun with a high emphasis on the crazy.
You can choose either Mii characters or from a roster of Mario characters with the odd Square characters – once unlocked – to start in your team. Then it’s off to the stadium of your choosing, from a decent selection, to wage sporting war against the AI or friends. Up to four players can play locally with two teams or up to two players locally can go online against two other players for online matches – in a similar setup to Halo. With another player or two Mario Sports Mix is laugh out loud fun, and the ability to play online with another player locally is an excellent option that I can’t stress how much I want to see in other games. Unfortunately the singleplayer aspect suffers to capture the same magic.
Whether you play tournament mode or one-off exhibition matches, in any of the games, the AI will fail to put up a fight on normal. Raise the difficulty and sure, the challenge increases but there’s nothing fulfilling about the matchup and you’ll find victory far often than they do. It’s very much geared-up for multiplayer and the excitement and enjoyment simply isn’t there on your own. There are a few mini games you can play in addition to the sports that can pass some time but replay is severely limited without multiplayer.
Mario Sports mix is, for the most part, a hit. The arcade sports package is varied, fun and dynamic but it’s almost entirely dependent on the multiplayer element. Find a willing friend or two and prepare for fun and laughs but if you’re more of a lone wolf then this is one to avoid.