Wii

North America

Mario Sports Mix

by Pedro Hernandez - February 14, 2011, 10:28 am PST
Total comments: 10

7

Does this game get an MVP award or time in the penalty box?

Mario is no stranger to the world of sports. From kart racing to tennis and beyond, Mario and friends have shown great finesse at these athletic events. Despite this, there are still some sports they have yet to tackle, such as dodgeball and volleyball. Square Enix seeks out to remedy this with Mario Sports Mix, a compilation title featuring two new sports for Mario to dip his feet on, as well as two familiar to the plucky plumber. Some fun can be had, but the overall mix is filled with disappointing results.

Mario Sports Mix is the spiritual successor to Mario Hoops 3-on-3, also developed by Square Enix. That title is known for its innovative use of touch screen controls, but Mario Sports Mix does away with the control technicalities, adding in three additional sports and online play.

Mario fires up an attack in hockey.

Even if the game features four different events, all of them present the same core gameplay mechanics. The controls, largely the same for each game, make use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, as well as the Wii Remote on its side as an alternative.
You can choose to play all events as 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 with the only real difference being that there are more characters on-screen. If you collect coins during any of the events when you score the coins you have collected will be added to your total score. You can also use power ups on your opponents, as well as unleash character-exclusive attacks that are colorful and expected of a Mario sports game. 

This unfortunately results in one of the game’s major weaknesses. All four events, despite their difference in rules and how gameplay goes, use the same engine as well as controls, making them play too similarly to each other. Pace of gameplay can also be a bother. Both basketball and hockey play very fast and smooth, while volleyball and dodgeball play the slowest. There are no additional rules you can tweak to your liking, such as gameplay length, turning items off, etc. Finally, difficulty is also a notable issue in Mario Sports Mix. Even in its challenging settings, the AI opponents barely put up a fight as powerful attacks can be used a lot  in order to get ahead in the game.

Dodgeball, minus the sting and pain.

The content in Mario Sports Mix is of uneven quality as well. All four events feature the same gameplay modes: Exhibition and Tournament Mode. The main perk behind Tournament Mode is that you can unlock new courts and characters. The problem here is that you must unlock the characters  and courts for all four events individually, meaning that you will be playing the same matches over and over until all characters are available in all four games.  It results in a very tedious method of content unlocking.

There are also some mini-games that provide some brief diversions, with an emphasis on brief. There are four of them, one based on each of the sports in the game. You feed Petey Piranha fruit in a game of basketball, as well as use your hockey puck to knock the other players out. They are fun, but lack longevity.

Fortunately, the game does offer solid multiplayer modes. All four events can be played with up to four other players, and you can participate in online matches as well. Online can either be played with a friend using friend codes or random matches. Mario Sports Mix shines in this area as events become more fun and exciting with the presence of human players. As is common in most Mario sports games, multiplayer is where the game’s value lies in.

This being a Square Enix game, the game shines in terms of presentation. The characters resemble their past appearances in other Mario sports titles, but are very detailed and feature nice texture-shading. The courts are easily the best thing about the overall graphical presentation, thanks to some very imaginative designs that pay tribute to both Mario and Final Fantasy titles. The animation and frame rate are very smooth, and even when a character is doing a powerful attack, it hardly presents any  on-screen slowdown.

Either dodge the ball or fall into the fiery lava.

Music is also a solid element in the title. The original compositions throw in classic Mario sound effects for a very nostalgic feel, and with Mario Sports Mix featuring Final Fantasy characters, some classic Final Fantasy themes are featured as well. As expected, the character voice samples are repetitive, but do add some character to the game.

Overall, Mario Sports Mix is a decent title that serves well as a rental. The game mechanics are solid, and there is fun to be had in the multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, all four events feature the same mechanics, creating a feeling of redundancy while playing. The lack of additional modes and endearing mini-games also aid in making Mario Sports Mix a fun try but not a lifetime investment.

Summary

Pros
  • Beautiful courts
  • Fun multiplayer modes
  • Great visual and audio presentation
  • Polished gameplay mechanics
Cons
  • Characters and courts must be unlocked several times
  • Gameplay feels redundant
  • Lack of additional game modes
  • Too easy

Talkback

TJ SpykeFebruary 14, 2011

I want a Mario Football game (not soccer, for those of you who call soccer that). It's the only major sport Nintendo hasn't used him for.

Since I would be playing the game by myself, that is another reason I will wait to find this game at a cheap price.

DasmosFebruary 15, 2011

lol i wouldn't call "football" a "major" sport if it's only really enjoyed in one country. how's that going to be able to sell internationally?

TJ SpykeFebruary 15, 2011

First, it is a major sport, more so than any of the sports in this game (when is the last time a hockey game, volleyball match, or basketball game was watched by more than 100 million people?. Dodgeball isn't even a televised sport.). Football is also popular in Canada, and there is a growing fanbase in the UK. Besides, I know tons of people who couldn't care less about tennis but bought the Mario Tennis games. So I know that even in countries where football might not be as popular as it should be, it would still sell well because of Mario.

Ian SaneFebruary 15, 2011

Does Electronic Arts give a shit about selling Madden internationally?  Football is huge in the US and Canada.  Tons of games are released each year specifically with the North American market in mind.  Mario Football would be a big hit.  If NCL didn't like that because it wouldn't sell in Japan, then they're idiots.

And all of these Japanese companies have no problem releasing Japan-only titles that have no appeal at all in North America and Europe.  But going the other way is no good?  That's ridiculous, especially since the North American market is BIGGER.

mustbeburtFebruary 15, 2011

Pedro - you briefly mentioned the online component of the game.  Did you go online with it?  How was the actual service?  Does it compare to something like Mario Kart Wii?  Was it easy to find people to play with?  Was there any lag?

RABicleFebruary 16, 2011

Spyke, Volleyball and Basketball are amoung the most popular sports in the world. I don't know what the official number of registered players totals are but I'm pretty sure it goes something like
Association Football
Volleyball
Cricket
Basketball
Field Hockey

Grid Iron is a long way down the list, it would be more popular than Rugby League, Australian Rules or Gaelic football but less than Futsal and Rugby Union.

TJ SpykeFebruary 16, 2011

You are crazy if you think volleyball is more popular, I honestly would like to see anything that backs that up. Same with field hockey, that would be extremely low on the ranking (hell, I bet bowling is more popular). I notice you neglected to mention baseball too.

DasmosFebruary 16, 2011

Quote from: TJ

You are crazy if you think volleyball is more popular, I honestly would like to see anything that backs that up. Same with field hockey, that would be extremely low on the ranking (hell, I bet bowling is more popular). I notice you neglected to mention baseball too.

Search for "most popular sports" or something very similar and almost every site or list backs that up.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterFebruary 16, 2011

Quote from: mustbeburt

Pedro - you briefly mentioned the online component of the game.  Did you go online with it?  How was the actual service?  Does it compare to something like Mario Kart Wii?  Was it easy to find people to play with?  Was there any lag?

From my experience with it, it was pretty good. I found matches fairly quick and I barely experienced any lag. Of course this was a few days after launch I don't know how it is now, but it works well.

Ian SaneFebruary 16, 2011

The thing with a sport being the "most popular" is that it means jack shit unless the sport is a money maker.  I often hear that soccer is the most played sport with North American youth.  Yet who in the US or Canada gives two shits about soccer?  The popularity it has as a kids sport has no effect on its popularity and financial success in those countries.  Of course volleyball is a popular sport.  Every high school has a volleyball team.  But who watches volleyball on TV outside of the Olympics?  Who buys season tickets for volleyball teams?  Who dedicates a good chunk of their lives obsessing over a volleyball team?

In North America baseball, football, hockey and basketball are the only team sports that matter.  There is big money with those sports.  The players are millionaires and celebrities.  When the local team wins a championship the city holds a parade and the team visits the White House.  For single sports clearly tennis and golf are a big deal because of the TV coverage and the money involved.  MMA is huge and boxing used to be.  Auto racing is huge.

Outside of North America soccer is clearly a major sport.  Not because every kid plays soccer but because the top teams in Europe are wealthy.  There are big TV contracts for the top leagues.  The top players make millions of dollars.  We're talking about the financial incentive to make a videogame here.  A sport is "big" if it makes big money.

The popularity of a sport in a single country makes a difference too.  Field hockey is more popular than ice hockey?  Bullshit.  Not in the way it matters.  In Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic and Slovakia ice hockey is without a doubt the biggest sport and it's one of the big four in the US.  Even if there are more field hockey players in the world, it is not the clear number one sport anywhere of significance.  Thus ice hockey matters more because it a bigger part of a handful of specific cultures.

American kids dream of scoring Superbowl winning touchdowns.  They idolize the stars of the NFL.  Hich school and college football are a huge part of American culture.  Mario Football is a licence to print money in the most important market in the world.  Mario Futsal would not even be close.  Anything that matters in America matters PERIOD even if no other country gives a shit.  No one outside the US gives a shit about the NCAA yet they make money from NCAA football and basketball games.

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Mario Sports Mix Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Square Enix
Players1 - 4
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Sports Mix
Release Feb 07, 2011
PublisherNintendo

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