Mario Sports Superstars Review
When Mario and friends aren’t engaged in some Mushroom Kingdom version of the Taken movies, they often find themselves releasing their pent up aggression in some fiercely competitive sports. Now they’re back at it again in Mario Sports Superstars – a collection of five sports (plus one pretty neat amiibo bonus game) exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. Are these just half-assed mini-versions packaged together for a quick cash grab or is there enough depth to keep Mario Sports fans happy?
Mario Sports Superstars consists of five different sports; soccer, baseball, tennis, golf and horse-riding. Mario Sports connoisseurs will already know that four of those sports have already seen full-fledged releases in the past – including Mario Tennis Open and Mario Golf World Tour (both released for 3DS). Each sport features a single player and multiplayer mode. There are two single player modes per sport; Tournament and Exhibition (or Stroke Play in golf and Free Race in Horse Racing). Horse racing features a bonus mode, but we’ll discuss that later. Tournament mode has three different “Cups” each subsequently more difficult and features a tournament style elimination (winner moves on). If you lose during a Tournament, you’re given an opportunity to retry at that tier – no need to start all over. You’ll also be able to save between rounds if you need a break or want to play a different sport. Each sport allows you to choose from 18 characters (two of which are unlockable).
“Mario Golf has always been my favourite Mario sports franchise, so I was definitely pleased that it retained all the qualities that’s made it so great in the past.”
Now let’s take a look at each of the sports, starting with tennis and golf. Both were developed by Camelot (who have been developing Nintendo’s Mario Golf and Mario Tennis franchises for quite a long time). Both feature the exact same gameplay as their 3DS predecessors and I didn’t notice much improvement visually. Mario Golf has always been my favourite Mario sports franchise, so I was definitely pleased that it retained all the qualities that’s made it so great in the past. The downside however is the lack of content available. Whereas other sports, you can play on the same field or court over and over – in golf, you definitely need some variety in courses. In Mario Sports Superstars, there are only three golf courses, each with only nine holes! Tennis features the same frantic pace you’ve come to expect from the Mario Tennis franchise, complete with power ups activated by inputting the right button combination on the right spot to thwart your opponent.
In both soccer and baseball, you’ll first pick your two primary characters, then you’ll pick your teammates (Toads, Koopas, Spikes, etc). In soccer, you’ll also pick a Goalkeeper (Boom Boom or Pom Pom). Being able to pick your team was a very cool touch. Soccer was pretty fun in Mario Sports Superstars. On offense, you can pass or shoot, and on defense you can slide to steal away the ball. If you trip your opponent, they’ll get a free shot. Your two primary characters each have a “special” shot that they can use once the soccer ball starts to flash. While soccer was enjoyable for what it was, it would have been way better had Nintendo given us more of a Mario Strikers Charged style game! Baseball plays as you’d expect a baseball game to play, and the level of depth that went into pitching and batting will definitely be appreciated by players willing to stick with it and practice – but for this guy, I just could not get the hitting down and was continually whooped by the AI, even on the easiest Cup.
Then there is horse racing. I’ll be honest, when I first heard they were including horse racing, I thought “how boring!”. Turns out, I was wrong. While not as addictive or fast paced as something like Mario Kart, horse racing provides a simple, yet fun arcade style racer that fits surprisingly well in this package. Horse racing features a “Stable” option, which allows you to pick a horse (you can own multiple horses) and care for the horse in a Nintendogs type setting. Once you have a horse you like, you’ll be able to compete in races. Each race consists of three laps with speed boosts and obstacles that you’ll need to navigate while racing against other racers. The horses can dash (and you’ll need to find carrot items to replenish their dash), jump and double jump (which sees the rider jump off their horse for hard to reach items). You’ll also collect items that build up your super dash meter, which, when used, will give you an extreme boost of speed for a short period of time.
“Unfortunately, with no download play option, you’ll only be able to play locally with friends who also own the game.”
Each mode features a multiplayer mode, with three offerings; With People Nearby (local match), With Friends Online, and With Players Worldwide. Unfortunately, with no download play option, you’ll only be able to play locally with friends who also own the game – a huge let-down for families hoping to enjoy the game with just one purchase (on that note, the game also saves directly to the game card, so if you share the game with a family member or friend, they’ll be using your save file – another unnecessary disappointment). I was happy with how online worked – the matches were generally pretty quick and there was an option to Blacklist a player if needed.
Mario Sports Superstars also has a very fun amiibo only mini-game. The mini game plays like a Mario variant of the Atari classic “Breakout”. However, there are two glaring issues: 1) you can’t use any amiibo, it must be the special Mario Sports Superstars amiibo cards which are sold separately (the physical version does come with one) and 2) the amiibo cards aren’t saved to the game, so you’ll have to re-scan them every time you play.
Mario Sports Superstars is a fun sampler of five Mario sports games, each with a fairly decent sized single player component and each featuring multiplayer options (locally and online). The amiibo mini-game is fun, but could have been a bit more lenient by allowing scanned cards to remain saved in-game. For me, golf was the highlight of this package, but unless Nintendo intends to offer some additional courses (which I highly doubt they will), it’ll grow tiresome pretty fast. Same can be said about horse racing and the limited amount of tracks it offers (with that said, horse racing was a very pleasant surprise!). However, with so much to do, this package is a no-brainer for anyone who enjoys Mario sports games and needs a quick fix for their upcoming summer vacations!
***A 3DS code was provided by the publisher***
- Great variety of sports
- Local & Online Mulitplayer
- No Download Play
- amiibo mini-game needs special cards