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Quartet of Cuteness- Mario Sports Mix Review



The prowess of the Mushroom Kingdom’s populace has rarely come into question. From Mario’s ability to trample an unruly Goomba to Yoshi’s talent for flutter-kicking across a wide gap, Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigefumi Hino’s creations have been consistently agile. Yet, it wasn’t until developer Camelot Software Planning moved the beloved characters to golf greens and tennis courts, that Team Mario demonstrated an aptitude beyond high jumping. With a career that includes forays in baseball, basketball, kart racing, as well as Summer and Winter Olympic games, the one-time plumber has successfully capitalized on his latent athleticism. 

Following the trend of transferring development duties to external studios, coding for Mario Sports Mix was handled by the capable hands at Square-Enix (responsible for 2006’s Mario Hoops 3 on 3 for the DS). However, beyond the inclusion of moogles, cactuars, and blue slimes, the title contains all the graphical charm and control finesse exhibited by a first-party Nintendo title. While the title forgoes the depth typically devoted to single-sport disks, each of the Sports Mix‘s recreations giftedly balance approachability with playability, mirroring the assurance displayed by 2006’s Wii Sports.

Of the four diversions on the disk, Basketball and Hockey are the stand-outs. The former is elevated by absorbing shot blocking, alley-oops, and dunks, while the later included charged shots and fights to get matches lively. Volleyball is a respectable interpretation of the sport, although it would have benefited from an increased shot selection. Dodgeball is the weakest game of the lot, as steps were made to artificially extend each match. Both the leisurely velocity of the ball and the incorporation of life bars (beaned players lose a bit of health) strips away the zealous tempo of the sport. While players can play more straightforward interpretations of each pastime, the title’s whimsical power-ups can be captivating. From bingo-like volleyball courts to coins scattering around the beach-side court, these variations present intriguing game-changing prospects. While the game’s character-specific abilities, from Luigi’s paranormal vacuum cleaning to Mario’s ability to throw a flaming dodgeball may be overpowering, most pay careful homage to Nintendo canon.

Each recreation relies on a set of fundamental commands shared among each recreation, while offering a few sport-specific commands. For example, in basketball players swing their Wiimote skyward to initiate a jump then rapidly bring it down to complete their shot. When on the hockey rink, a quick horizontal fling of the wrist will release a slapshot. These examples assume gamers are using the Wiimote and Nunchuck control scheme; Mario Sports Mix also accommodates a single horizontally-held Wiimote for players who have a sub-controller shortage or simply want to play with a modicum of waggle.  

Expectedly, Mario Sports Mix offers the requisite exhibition matches and tournaments for solitary players. Competitions are composed much like Mario Kart‘s contests, with gamers vying for Mushroom, Flower and Star Cups-  unlocking arenas and characters with key victories. Yet, once all the collectables have been garnered, the game’s subdued challenge level offers little incentive to persevere. The problem is the game’s artificial intelligence, which is a predictable pushover on all but the highest difficulty setting. Although casual games might enjoy the lenient opposition, hardened sport gamers will wish for a mercy rule in the Nintendo leagues, during a turbulent trouncing.

Fortunately, capable competition can be found with Sport Mix‘s online component. While gamers wishing to compete with specific players will have to initiate a friend code connection, those seeking to jump right  into a competition can be matched with random participants. Although lag can be a reoccurring problem when playing net-based, high-speed action titles on Nintendo’s console, contests ran fluidly and were nearly indistinguishable from a couch-based co-op session.

From the game’s vibrant colored and creatively designed venues to the large, well animated characters (Miis are also supported) Mario Sports Mix’s visuals are a treat. Coupled with a fluid framerate, reasonable load times, and consistently responsive controls, the game’s reveals the typical sparkle that Nintendo enthusiasts have come to expect from top-tier games. Small touches, such playing hockey with a coin instead of a puck, or giving a cloud-riding Lakitu face-off and jump ball responsibilities certainly adds to the game’s appeal. Although the game’s music is dependably inoffensive, each characters’ limited amount of voice samples repeat a bit too often.

From the moment Mario Sports Mix was revealed, the game’s ambitions were evident: the title was poised to offer a collection of well-polished, pick up-and play, athletic-oriented events which could be enjoyed by participants of all ages and skill levels. Undoubtedly, the disc realizes those ambitions, warranting a full-priced purchase, especially for those interested in local or online rivalry.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

50 comments

  1. Last Man Standing

    Sound really fun. Sounds like there really no clunkers in the bunch, like Golf was for Wii Sports.

  2. Are there sliders to adjust the difficulty of the game?

    How many unlockables (just no spoilers, in case theres a surprise one) are there?

    Good review

  3. This was getting below 70 on Metacritic. Why do you think reviews didn’t like it?

  4. If it’s S/E, there’s just got to be some FF characters, right?

  5. Same score as 1Up. Some scrooges are giving it a 2/5, which seems very harsh. I bet they didn’t like the last NBA Jam either.

  6. Hopefully, this will sell like mad so we can get a real update to Mario Golf. Thats was one of my most played N64 games.

  7. Cool, but there’s already a lot of multi-sports titles (Deca Sports series) on the Wii. We’ll see in Mario can push this one.

  8. Wait, there’s a Special Cup right?

  9. If it’s on the same level as Super Mario Strikers. I’m picking this up.

  10. I saw a video and this game has the worst goalie AI ever. If that was a real player in the peewee leagues he be pulled and scolded.

  11. Pull Mario and co. out of this and it would have got a C. Trust me.

  12. I can wait until I can get it on sale.

    BTW Deagle- Did you play Mario Hoops, it was a mess. Really bad version of B-Ball.

  13. I’m liking it so far. Dodgeball isn’t as bad as you make it sound. Some games can be over quickly. My complain is volleyball, which is kind of boring.

  14. Great review, Deagle!

  15. So the Mario crew doesn’t believe it wearing helmets when playing hockey? Way to set a good example for the kids, guys!

  16. You can still play Toadstool Tour, which is even better, IMO.

  17. Amazon should be delivering this to us today. Sounds like it will be quite fun.

  18. Mike’s Sports Mix?

    I bet it wouldn’t sell half as many copies either.

  19. I always love Super Dodge Ball for the NES. Is it anything like that game?

  20. Lately, Nintendo’s games have been pretty good. Ive been loving DK and Kirby.

  21. Pretty good review. I’m glad the netcode is up to snuff.

  22. Has there EVER been a good version of volleyball? I hated Temco take on it, and the old Sega game wasn’t much better.

  23. Sounds like a perfect rental for me. Maybe I’ll get hooked.

  24. Good review and timely too. How long did it take to unlock everything in the game?

  25. Like the review said, this was everything I expected. Nothing more nothing less.

  26. Nope, just three cups for each sport, and minigames, but they aren’t much.

  27. So if the Nintendo characters ahev special abilities what do the Mii’s have?

  28. Are there team bonus for playing as DK and Diddy/Mario and Luigi?

  29. I’ll probably pick up a copy in the next few days.

  30. wait, I read hockey had no fighting? WTF?

  31. There is fighting. Its even in one of the pictures here.

  32. Picked up my copy yesterday. I’m happy with it so far.

  33. Can two local players can on two other online players?

  34. I’ll be getting this week. It’s on like Kranky Kong then.

  35. So far I’m really enjoying it. Thanks for the review.

  36. Pretty good review, Deagle. You made me want to try this out and about 10 minutes I had no interest in the game.

    Still I can see volleyball being a bore.

  37. Seems like its pretty fun, I just might have to Gamefly it.

  38. I bought it today, and I think it’s only OK. I can’t see myself playing this for more than a week or two, even with other people.

    The sports are too simple and the power-up really can turn a game upside down. (Like Mario Party)

  39. Way off topic but I am intrigued by your name.

  40. It’s the car I’m hoping to own one day. At the moment I’m stuck with a 2008 Toyota Camry 😉

  41. LTTP, I know, but I needed to say that the best part of this game is the group of pictures that they sent to the press, because it let me make this: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4120/5448744277_d263557b80_m.jpg (I am the most mature person you know)

  42. Ha. that jives with Game Informers 4.5 review.

  43. Wait, they gave the game a 4/5 out of 10?!?!

  44. Waffles For Supper

    Deagle put you up to that didn’t he?

  45. Wouldn’t Yoshi poop green? He eats a lot of melons and green turtle shells?

  46. I eat Skittles, but I don’t poop rainbows.

  47. Only slight off topic

    On St. Pattie Day my friend didn’t know his green beer was colored with a whole containers full of green dye (we didn’t tell him his mouth and tongue and teeth) looked green all night.

    A day later, he calls me up asking if he should see a doctor, because his crap was LIME green. LOL.

  48. This discussion is devolving fast. And I love it!

  49. Blame NOLA! HAHA.

  50. This is a very helpful post, i hope this really helps me to complete my project.