If you don’t know already, Mario Sports Mix is a soon to be released title that compiles a handful of sports and your favorite Mario characters. It was developed by Square Enix, and, interestingly enough, it’s the same company that brought you Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for Nintendo DS in 2006. This time, however, they are not only working with basketball, but along with hockey, dodgeball and volleyball. It’s almost like getting four games in one. Almost. You’ll understand why I say ‘almost’ if you read on.
During my entire time playing Mario Sports Mix, I used a Wii remote and nunchuck setup. There were other controller options, but this is what I stuck with. The first sport I want to talk about is hockey. Before the game started, you have to choose if you want to play a 2 vs. 2 game, or a 3 vs. 3 game. After that, then you can choose your character(s). When playing hockey, here are some of the main controls for the game: you waggle to shoot when you’re on offense, and you waggle to steal/check when you’re on defense. To pass the puck, you press A, and the C button allows you to change players if the other player is being controlled by a computer. Now here is where the game gets a bit counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t passing the puck automatically switch you over to control the previously computer controlled team mate? I found myself having to press the A button then C button, because, obviously, I would like to take control of the action. Other than that, the game is fast-paced and offers some competitive fun; especially when playing against friends.
By the way, the issue of passing the ball/puck runs rampant throughout the whole game. Passing and switching team mates should be the some button. Heck, when ever your team has the ball, it should automatically be you controlling the action. However, it is the same case for each sport: the C button is to switch players, and you are stuck on that player until you decide to press it. And that moves me on over nicely to my other gripe about Mario Sports Mix. Each sport plays almost identical (with the exception of dodgeball) to the other. The only changes are, of course, the sport and the look of it, but other than that, they’re pretty much the same game. In basketball, you waggle to shoot and waggle to block. In volleyball, you waggle to setup/spike and waggle to block. I liked playing Mario Sports Mix, because it is indeed a fun game. But once you’ve played one sport, it feels like you’ve played them all. Dodgeball is the only one that is truly unique, and plays very differently. There is much more strategy involved, because you get to fake people out, catch the ball with good timing, and make proper use of the environment.
Mario Sports Mix also has power-ups that appear randomly throughout each of the sports, and they do spice up the fun factor a bit. Throwing green Koopa shells to stun your opponent is always satisfying. There are also special moves that are built up over time. The specials are cool, but they do get a bit repetitive. It’s repetitive, because a character’s special is the same throughout all the sports. Waluigi’s special, for example, gives the player four tries to deal some damage. So, in hockey, Waluigi gets a chance to make four shots. In volleyball, Waluigi gets a chance to make four spikes. It’s the same animations, with the same effects, and again, it’s repetitive and comes off as lazy.
There you have it. Those are my impressions of the game with the couple of hours I got to play with it. Surely, I haven’t seen nearly enough of the game, but look out for the review around the launch of the game when it arrives February 7, 2011.