Play basketball on your DS using the stylus. Read on to see how it works.
We finally get a basketball entry in the Mario Sports lineup and I couldn’t be happier. Surprisingly, it’s on the DS and comes from Square Enix. Like many of the other DS games on the show floor this year, you play the game using the stylus.
Controls are relatively simple. The d-pad moves your character around and the L button switches your control to one of your teammates. All other actions are done using gestures on the touch screen. When on offense, tapping rapidly will cause your character to power dribble, or dribble faster and closer to the ground. Fear not. You don’t have to constantly tap the screen whenever you want to go somewhere. Your character will auto-dribble but it will just be easier to have the ball stolen this way. Passes are made by gesturing in the direction of your teammate; tap the screen, slide towards them, and release. Shooting is done using this same motion straight up. When on defense, sliding upwards will cause your player to jump in the air to block a shot or get a rebound. Sliding the stylus left or right will make him quickly sidestep in a defensive position. Sliding downwards will make him go for a steal.
This system works but I can’t help but think “Why?" The only aspect of it that seems advantageous over using standard buttons is passing. When you first pick it up you will want to try and use the buttons, but would that be better? These gesture controls could be very effective once you get used to them. Maybe that is precisely Nintendo’s point.
The game itself feels like an NBA Jam title of old with some Mario fun thrown in. Characters perform crazy dunks. Question blocks are scattered on the floor. When on offense, they will give you either coins or an offensive item (like a super mushroom). When on defense, you will get a defensive item every time. You can drop banana peels in the lane, or throw green turtle shells at the ball handler. If hit, the ball handler loses the ball, and his/her coins are scattered everywhere.
Coins play an extremely important role in the game. If you’ve seen some of the latest screenshots, you will notice how high the scores can get. This is intentional. On every basket, you will score 20 points plus one additional point for every coin you had up to a maximum of 120. Instead of constantly going for a basket, you could instead decide to run around looking for question blocks until you cap your coins. Scoring 120 points in one possession can make for a crazy experience.
Gathering coins is where the power dribbling becomes most valuable. If a question block contains coins, it acts like the multi-coin blocks of the Super Mario games. Power dribbling over a question block can net you more than 10 coins at once.
I had a ton of fun with this title. If you are a basketball fan you will want to try it out.