Mario Sports Superstars (Nintendo 3DS) Review



Mario is no stranger to the arts of sport. Taking a stab at all forms of play including baseball, extreme soccer and even having slick dance moves at one point; the plumber and his friends are known for their sporting adventures. But what happens when a few of these sports are contained within one spot for pick up and play fun?

Mario Sports Superstars from Nintendo, Bandai-Namco Games and Camelot compiles three classic sports and two new ones for Mario & friends to partake in. Does this mixture of sports score a home run or get a strike out?


Design & Sports

Mario Sports Superstars is spread across five unique sports, all playing quite differently from one another. Tennis and Golf mirror how they past Mario Tennis/Golf games to a tie with core mechanics and game-feel while Baseball somewhat mirrors Mario Super Sluggers from years ago. Two new sports included into the mix are Horse Racing and Soccer. These mixture of sports have the same basic games modes; a tournament where you play X amount of rounds until you win, single-matches/races, a unique feature (Tennis has some minor mini games to better your aim for example) and online support.

It sounds a bit bare-bones and…it is. Very similar to the recent Wii U game Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, each game here has the basic modes and only a handful of courses/maps to play on. However, what makes the seeming lack of content justifiable…is that fact five sports are here instead of one. This makes the few amount of modes understandable and pushes you to try all the sports out.

Not a huge fan of baseball? Give soccer a shot! Want to have a small tennis match while waiting for a bus? Go right ahead! This pick-and-chose approach to the sports allows for small bursts of play, making each sport easy to access with little issue. You even have the ability to save during tournaments if you like, ensuring you never lose major progress.

Unlockables aren’t that huge, as you unlock collectible cards through the coins you earn and each mode has two unlockable characters. Sadly, they aren’t that major and you have to unlock them for every sport. One final aspect to touch on the design is the interface, which feels very slick and stylish. Sure it’s a bit on the plain side, but there is effort put into making each menu pleasing to look at.

The overall design and line-up of sports is strong, ensuring you will have something to play even if you only can play for a short while.


Gameplay

 The core gameplay of Mario Sports Superstars is split into five halves, each one playing very different from one another.

  • Tennis: Classic One on One (or doubles) matches where you use special shots (which glow under parts of the court your characters can run over) to get the upper hand in the match. They heavily mirror the mechanics and gameplay from ‘Mario Tennis Open’ and ‘Mario Tennis Ultra Smash’.
  • Golf: Classic golf gameplay from the latest Mario Golf game, but with less courses and modes to play with.
  • Baseball: Mario hits the field again with baseball after many years of being rusty at the bat. Core gameplay mirrors ‘Mario Sluggers’ games from the GameCube and Wii, but with no motion controls. You can set up your custom teams and have different options for when you are at bat.
  • Horse Racing: The most ‘in-depth’ new gameplay. You race on horse back using a combination of jumping, dashing and boosting while collecting carrots/stars on the race course. Tracks are designed similar to a basic Mario Kart track but there is no wacky items; just racing with horses. You can also help grow your horse through grooming and taking care of it. This can help you even find extra coins and decorations you can place on your custom horse.
  • Soccer: Mario and friends kick the ball in a trademark soccer. Very simple mechanics but it’s simple nature allows it to work very well. Like Horse Racing, it’s not ‘wacky’ like other Mario sports games (it’s not like the Mario Strikers games for example) but it’s still fun.

Every sport feels fun to play, with each one having mechanics deep enough to offer high replay value if you decide to take games online or play with friends locally. The most impressive part is how simple is to switch between the different sports, making bouncing from one sport to another very easy.

Sadly the game lacks the Mario ‘Charm’ you see from games like Mario Power Tennis or Mario Strikers; the games are very ‘generic’ renditions of sports. But what makes it work here is the wealth of games to play. That alone helps relieve the repetition of playing one game over and over again.


Presentation

Mario games are always known for being colorful and full of life, so Mario Sports Superstars thankfully upholds this expectation. The different sports all have great menu designs and even if the gameplay isn’t wacky, the animations for the characters are clearly ‘Mario.’ From the little fist pump Mario makes when he wins a session in Tennis or to when Waluigi poses when he wins a game of Golf, the characters personalities are on full display.

Character models are detailed, though you could tell if you played other Mario Sports games (mainly the 3DS versions) that animations/models were pulled from those games here. They still look great though. Music is one area that shines brightly, as the soundtrack is fantastic stuff. Being filled with high energy and being varied across all the different games, you will want to crank up the volume while playing.

Frame rate is rock-solid outside of some minor slowdown during replays in the Golf game, so every game feels great. Overall very polished and well-rounded presentation.


Design/Sports – 4 out of 5 / Gameplay – 4 out of 5 / Presentation – 4 out of 5

Mario Sports Superstars is a very interesting project, as it’s a lot better then it has the right to be. For a game that feels cobbled together of past Mario Sports titles, it feels very polished. From it’s wealth of games too high production values, we have a collection of sports perfect for pick up and play gaming. While not setting the world on fire or even the best sports game with Mario’s name on the box, this sports collection shines brightly among the large 3DS game library

Overall: 4 out of 5

This game was reviewed on a Nintendo 2DS using a review copy provided by Nintendo of America.

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