Nintendo knows arcade games and does them extremely well. So when I received Mario Sports Mix, I thought: so cool and you can play online. This must be like Mario Strikers Charged, one of the early games for the Wii.
|MARIO SPORTS MIX
Nintendo for Wii
Replay Value: 7.0
Overall Score: 7.5
Pros: Many lovable Nintendo characters, fun arcade sports play, online play (rare on Wii)
Cons: Not enough depth to half the games, games sometime play slowly
Strikers was hilarious and fun. It also was a completely immersive sports game that took the reflexes of a tiger and nerves of steel to win.
By now, all the games in Mario Sports Mix have already been on the system – multiple times in various ways. You’ve seen NBA Jam as the premier arcade basketball game. And you’ve seen NHL Slapshot as the killer arcade hockey game.
So why get Mario Sports Mix?
FOR THE CHARACTERS AND THE POWER UPS
After you download a three-minute upgrade, it’s all about the zany characters: Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Wario and Donkey Kong and eight others. If you’re a true Nintendo fan, there’s nothing like playing as these animated wonders and adding your Mii as you play on their team.
Beyond the wacky personalities, it’s all about power ups. At the opposing team, you can throw slippery bananas, blasting bombs and mushrooms that make you tiny. Pass over a question mark on the floor, and you’ll get a coin that adds points to your score. Using power ups, I added about seven points to a Basketball game when I was behind. And then I came out as a winner.
Plus, as each game progresses, you have enough strength to pull off your power move once or twice. That comes with a powerful but chuckle-worthy animation and an almost indefensible move that results in needed points. Save it for the right time. But don’t wait too long.
BASKETBALL AND HOCKEY RULE
Basketball is really sweet, although the characters sometimes move like they have weights in their shoes. Still, only with the creative minds of Nintendo can you find a basketball arena with a Luigi’s Mansion haunted theme. The court can get dark and ghosts can grab the ball. And your basket? It’s a big, creepy chandelier!
Hockey, too, is superior fun. You can scuffle (Nintendo’s term for a hockey brawl) and get the puck away from someone hugely monstrous, like Bowser. In the western-themed rink, you’ll have a goaltender who also uses a kind of train. His tracks come out to center ice and he’ll throw bananas all over. If you can get close to the net and pass the bananas while he’s out, you can score easily.
VOLLEYBALL AND DODGE BALL, NOT SO MUCH
Volleyball, certainly in the single person mode, feels slow as you play. Much of it is also controlled by the Wii, unless you change the settings. The game’s OK, but not that interesting.
While Volleyball is kind of fun, Dodge Ball is really kind of boring. Dodge Ball is the kind of game you need to play in real life to enjoy. There’s not enough nuance to Dodge Ball. It just doesn’t lend itself to being a great video game – even with unusual power ups.
Online play is relatively easy to enjoy in Mario Sports Mix. It’s a breeze to go online with your broadband connection. You’ll play with folks from around the world – the same way you do with Mario Kart. And you can add your Mii to the games.
But if you want to invite your pal to play online, you have to enter that long string of numbers called the Friend Code. It should be a little easier to get online with your besties. There’s no real keyboard with the Wii, just point and click with the remote. Adding those numbers for multiple people you know is kind of a pain.
START EASY, AND TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
When you begin the games in Mario Sports Mix, try Easy Mode. It’s a great way to hone your chops. Move on to Hard Mode when you’re comfortable with pulling off your many moves. Expert Mode is nearly impossible to win (as it is with most games). Expect to get a royal beat down against the Wii.
The game’s music is iffy. You really don’t want to hear the casual Wii Bowling-type elevator music as you play a tense Hockey or Basketball game. It just slows you down mentally. Sometimes you’ll hear some powerful trumpets of victory, though.
While Mario Sports Mix can be a ton of fun to play, it’s only the Hockey and Basketball games that are truly worthy efforts. With these sports, you’re transported to fun worlds and you stay focused on the game.
My suggestion is to rent the game first. See if you like it enough to plunk down $50 for it.