Mario Sports Mix Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by CarbonX13, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. CarbonX13

    CarbonX13 GBAtemp 台灣人

    Aug 27, 2010
    Vancouver, B.C.
    <div align='center'><!--sizeo:7--><span style="font-size:36pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->Mario Sports Mix Review<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec--></div>
    <b><div align='center'>By: CarbonX13</div></b>
    <div align='center'><img src="" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    <b>Developer:</b> Square Enix
    <b>Publisher:</b> Nintendo
    <b>ESRB Rating:</b> E for Everyone (CERO Rating: A)
    <b>Release Date:</b> November 25th, 2010 (Japan)
    <b>Platform:</b> Wii

    The date was June 15, 2010 in the city of Los Angeles, California, USA. The time was early in the day, the time for the Nintendo's annual E3 press conference. Not much was expected from the Big N, seeing that previous years' conferences were rather lackluster, and did not carry anything that particularly interested gamers and fans alike. There were dashes of 'awesome', like Super Mario Galaxy 2, the MotionPlus accessory; but that didn't lift the overall mood that left the media saying 'boring...'. That changed on June 15th, 2010. The moment Reggie Fils-Aime walked out onto center stage, you could already feel that this man meant all business, and that Nintendo was about to hold the best E3 conference they've had since the reveal of the Wii. Led by Nintendo's key executives, the company came out firing with an absolute overload of content. Zelda gameplay was here! Kirby is returning to the Wii! Donkey Kong Country makes a return! Epic Mickey looks like a 3rd-party game that won't suck! The Nintendo 3DS!

    And then, there was Mario Sports Mix. A game that was quickly revealed with a trailer and then shuffled along for content that was much more worth a bang. In the aftermath of the conference, Mario Sports Mix was kind of set aside by the media, whom focused on covering Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and the other pieces of software and hardware that made the Nintendo conference that amazing. It's now November 2010. The gorgeous Kirby title was released a month ago, and Donkey Kong had arrived less than a week ago. Epic Mickey was leaked by the Wii scene. Oh, and Wii Party came out as well. And then there's Mario Sports Mix, the game that got next to no media attention since its reveal. It came out in Japan a couple days ago. But is the game any good? Or was shuffling Mario aside this time really another way of concealing a rather lackluster bust?

    Mario Sports Mix is no different than other Mario sports titles. You've got your simple, pick-up-and-play matches, your array of power-ups to punish your opponents with, and a small mix of mini-games. The only thing that separates Sports Mix from the past is that, well, there are four sports instead of one (and no, Mario and Sonic at the Olympics series doesn't count in the above statement). Sports Mix offers you four different sports: basketball, hockey, volleyball, and dodgeball. Not your typical line-up for a sports title, but that's another effort into establishing a fun Mario spin-off for fans to love. But the main question is, did they succeed?

    <div align='center'><img src="" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    <div align='center'><!--sizeo:1--><span style="font-size:8pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->Volleyball is easily the most well-made and balanced sport in the game. They probably could've just taken this sport and released it as a quality WiiWare title.<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec--></div>

    For the most part, the game runs really well, and the gameplay itself works just like any other Mario sports title. From the main menu, you select your sport (there's no central hub to walk around in this game), and choose between a Quick Match, or a Campaign mode. Each of the four sports offers a 2-vs-2 or a 3-vs-3 match. They both work well, though if you do play alone I'd stick to 3-vs-3 for a more competitive atmosphere. Quick match is just what you'd expect. Choose your players, choose your opponents, select the stage, and BAM you're in the game. The default character roster is pretty typical for a Mario sports game. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, Wario, Waluigi, Bowser, Bowser Jr., Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and a Toad. It doesn't get any more generic than this. Each character has his/her own attributes in Power, Speed, and Technical skill. Power players will offer faster shots, but usually lag behind the pack. Speed type players will move faster than everyone else, but usually lack power. Technical players have better aim and shot taking abilities, but may lack in power, speed, or even both. Personally, I think that technical characters are the weaker player type in the game, but that may just be my play style. Issues arise because of the imbalance between player types. Bowser Jr., for example, has both speed and power, making him extremely dominant on the court because he can get to where you need to quicker and provide the defensive power you will need against the heavyweight pure 'power' players. His offensive abilities usually result in shots that are extremely fast (due to power), some which the AI will not be able to prevent. This imbalance allows you to rig your team in a way to completely destroy the opposing team. The CPU, in contrary, love to utilize a Speed-Technical character at the highest difficulty, resulting in you getting humiliated because of the accuracy of their shots, and how frequently and easily they can pull it off. Mastering of a speed-technical player is a good idea if you want to beat the game in sports like hockey.

    Campaign mode starts you off with the cheesy cutscenes that establish a little storyline tie-in common in Mario spin-offs. This time around, a strange comet crashes into the Mushroom Kingdom, right by Peach's castle. The Toads work to dig up the remains of a comet, to discover four crystals. Inside the crystals are an image of a certain sport. The citizens of Mushroom Kingdom decide to throw tournaments in the four different sports, and it goes on from there. From that point on, you're just going to be playing through the tournament brackets and make your way to win the trophy at the end of the pathway. It's quick, easy, and not particularly entertaining. The Mushroom cup difficulty has some of the dumbest AI opponents I have ever seen. If you cannot win by over 20 points in either hockey or basketball, or go straight sets in dodgeball and volleyball against your opponents here, you're either not trying, or you just downright terrible at this game. They're that easy. Flower and Star difficulties provide a bit of a challenge, but as long as you got the controls down pat, you really shouldn't have much difficulty with the CPU here. The stages that you play in are unlocked by default until the Finals of each bracket, where it is an entirely new map that you would've never played on before. Maps get increasingly dynamic as you progress, each utilizing certain environmental effects to throw players off, or benefit them in a certain way. The DK basketball map in the Mushroom Cup, for example, has the court shift back and forth at one point during the match, taking the court closer to one hoop than the other, while leaving a gaping hole on the other end. A Luigi Mansion level in the Flower difficulty has the court turn completely dark and one point, and you won't be able to see the ball or players not standing in lighted sections. Campaign mode also has the usage of items in-game (like Koopa shells, mushrooms, etc.) which I did not find in the quick matches, but it's probably my lack of knowledge of reading Hiragana and Katakana. It should also be noted that the only way to unlock content is through the campaign modes of each individual sport, which starts you off in the Mushroom Cup, and you work your way through the tournament brackets up to higher rankings. The big problem though, is that the CPU is not very hard to beat even in the Star Cup. You shouldn't have any issues passing a tournament within 45 minutes.

    The core gameplay is what matters the most, and how well you execute tactics can play a difference between win and loss in this game. Items are in the game to be collected by "?" buttons that appear on the court throughout a match. These range from a single coin, which gives you one extra point upon scoring, to Koopa shells, to Starman, and even mini-mushrooms from New Super Mario Bros. As you successfully score points or block shots, you will rack up a star meter which, once filled, will allow players to unleash a star power by pressing A and B. These moves are, in general, harder to defend against mainly due to the special effects, but that doesn't mean they're impossible to counter. With some practice, most star-power shots can be blocked and countered without much trouble. The issues of the game are not in the core gameplay, though, but lie within the certain sports that you get to play. Each have their own flaws, and their own strengths, and in some cases, the spectrum can be a bit larger than what you'd expect. But the controls do remain pretty much the same throughout.

    <div align='center'><img src="" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    <div align='center'><!--sizeo:1--><span style="font-size:8pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->Yoshi goes for a dunk in basketball with Bowser on defense. You can dodge a block by pulling off a lay-up in this situation.<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec--></div>

    Let's move to the first sport: basketball. This is probably the best designed sport out of Sport Mix. You simply move around the court, and have an option to take 3-point shots, two-point shots, slam dunks, and more. Core gameplay may be comparable to the Mario Basketball 3 vs 3 title on the Nintendo DS. These are relatively easy to make because the controls just require you to swing up and then down on the Wii remote to perform a shot. On the defense side, you can simply press A next to the person with the ball to push them and take their ball. It doesn't always work, and you'll have to get it at a certain angle to take the ball away. Swing up on the remote to block a shot, and swing up and then down to jump up in the air and punch an airborne opponent to prevent a slam dunk. The basic gameplay mechanics and the general simplicity of the game make basketball the most generic, yet one of the more entertaining sports in this game. Speed players are a must-have for basketball, and power players are probably less favourable due to their general lack of speed (minus Bowser Jr.). The only issue I've had with basketball is that you have to manually switch to another player after you pass to him/her. Usually, sports games automate process when playing with an insufficient amount of players, but that's not the case with Sports Mix. It takes a while to adapt to, and it gets worse because on the defensive side as well, as the game simply alternates between players in an order, and doesn't actually switch to the player that is closest to the ball. I've had multiple occasions where I had switched to the wrong person on defense that in turn allowed the opponents to score on what was a sure blocked shot.

    Hockey, while a fast paced game in real life, lacks the same feel in Sports Mix. The game is clunky and feels like it lacks polish. Basic components are present in the forms of passing, shooting, and hitting, but it doesn't go anywhere beyond that really. The net is absolutely enormous (no joke), making goals extremely easy to score on the lower difficulties. The only way to pull of fancy moves is by 'charging' your shot, which takes a while to do, and requires you to be out in the open. What's even worse is that some of the maps don't even have a goalie, and all you need to do is skate behind the barrier blocking the net (which honestly isn't hard to do) and fire at a wide-open cage. Hockey is my penultimate favourite type in the game, not only because of the lack of polish, but also how badly designed the game is. Switching between characters is a hassle, even worse than basketball as a matter of fact, and the general lack of character balance is disappointing. Power characters are really the only way to go here on the defense, because they're the only characters that are able to land hits on the opponents easily, and their shots are most likely to go in on the easier difficulties (and campaign mode). Slapshots from Bowser and Donkey Kong can easily be scored from halfway down the ice, because the goalie seems to be asleep when you're not actually in the offensive zone. I had no trouble beating the opponents 23-1 in the first match, though given it <i>was</i> on easy difficulty, with Bowser scoring all but one of the goals. The ideal combination would be to have one speed-technical character, like Peach, throw in Bowser Jr., and then fit in a power character while you're at it. You'll be able to swiftly move the puck around and dominate the game like this, especially on higher difficulties. Hockey does have its funny part, where fights seem to occur randomly in the game. You can attempt to initiate one by skating over to a character and madly swinging the remote, but it doesn't always work. You can walk in on a fight initiated by the CPU and waggle your remote constantly to fight over the puck (which in Mario Sports Mix is actually a coin). It's definitely hilarious to see Mario and Peach duke it out in a fist fight partway through the game.

    <div align='center'><img src="" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    <div align='center'><!--sizeo:1--><span style="font-size:8pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->Hockey's somewhat fun, but the imbalance between easy and hard difficulties is just bad. On easy, you win by 20 goals. On hard... good luck even winning.<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec--></div>

    Volleyball was my favourite out of all the sports offered, mainly because the game worked pretty well, and is a delight to play. Controls are very similar to basketball, except you don't have to pass anymore, you just swing your remote to bump it to a nearby player. No aim is required until you go for a spike, then you get a quick target area that can be moved in the split second you're up in the air. The gameplay here is actually really fast paced, which in turn made it a lot more fun to play. Volleyball is also the only game type where I found that I could utilize a certain character type to its certain potential. Speed characters will move around the court faster, better enabling you to gain control of the ball after a spike. Power characters have extremely fast spikes that are hard to return unless you are absolutely within range of where the ball is heading, and technical players have greater control over the aiming of a spike. Peach, for example, has a slow spike, but you can aim it to the farthest left side of the court, and then curve it back to the center/right to confuse your opponents. Had every other game mode been like this, Mario Sports Mix would've been an absolute blast to play through in every department. Even on higher difficulties, the game feels like a balance of challenge and fun at the same time. Your rallies will go on for a while as you try to spike your way to victory.

    And finally, there's dodgeball. There are many forms of dodgeball around the world, but this variation appears to be common in Asian countries. In Canada, I've never played this version of it before. There's only one ball in the entire match, and all but one of the team stands within the boundaries of the court. One player is positioned at the far end of the court, behind the opposing team. The objective is to pass the ball around, usually back and forth between those still 'in the game' and those outside the boundaries, and eventually hit the opposing players to eliminate them from the game. Eliminated players step out of bounds and join in on the far end of the court to continue playing, they're just not 'in the game'. If they score a hit on a player, however, they return in court with minimum HP. Once all the players are eliminated, the match is over. The dodgeball in Mario Sports Mix throws a massive curveball on this mode though. Instead of having one-hit elimination and many rounds within a time limit, which I thought would've been a much better choice, each player has a set health bar. Each hit takes down their health bar, until they are eliminated. This wouldn't be a big problem had it been for the lack of ability to actually hit a player. Catching the ball is extremely easy (just hold A and B), or dodge it by swinging a remote, and shots from even the power players aren't fast enough to evade without difficulty unless you're right up in their face. And your power throws (swing up and then down) are usually off target since you barely have half a second between the initiating jump and the throw to aim. When you do nail them, however, they take off an incredible amount of health, and the result is extremely satisfying; however, these cases are harder to come by than I would've preferred, as the aiming system barely allows for any time to actually pick the direction of your shot. This flaw barely allows you to eliminate players before the time limit is reached, unless you catch the CPU in one of their 'stand there and continue to get hit over and over motives'. Most rounds will result in the team with the most health winning. Lame. The worst part about this is that power players are the only player type you'll need in this game. Throw together a team with Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Wario, and it's a guarantee that you'll win. Dodgeball could've used some real nice tweaking here, because it's hardly enjoyable at all.

    Mario Sports Mix also included a surprising Wi-Fi feature in game, something I did not test for this review. I'd assume it's general matches against other players. The minigames included are decent fun, but nothing too special here either. There is also a stat tracking feature that lists a whole bunch of stats for you in each of the four sports.

    So in the end, Mario Sports Mix is your typical Mario sports title, except this one throws in four different sports for you to play. The game types range from mediocre to rather fun, with some having more design flaws than others. The campaign mode is cheesy, but is also the only way you can unlock new content like characters and stages. In general, character balance is an issue that plagues the experience, with power and speed type players usually dominating the sports. Bowser Jr. is probably the most stacked player against lower difficulty players, having both exceptional power and speed. Speed-technical players like Peach are really effective in higher difficulties, though you should refrain from using them unless going against a challenging opponent. Stages are generic in design, but some of the environmental effects bring an interesting touch to the games. Others can ruin the experience, I'm looking at you Luigi Mansion. All in all, the game is enjoyable as a nice mix-up to Mario Kart or New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but its flaws definitely take away from the experience into making this an absolutely fun title. Local multiplayer, up to four players, is definitely more enjoyable than single player.

    <b>Final Verdicts:</b>
    <b>Gameplay: </b> Ranging from <b>6.5</b>/10 to a <b>8</b>/10 - There are differences in the quality between game modes, so giving an average score seemed inaccurate in cases where well-made game types are downgraded while poorly designed game types are conceived as better than they are. Volleyball and basketball are fun, hockey is enjoyable at times, while dodgeball is just bland. Control issues ruin the experiences in the sports that involve passing (all but volleyball).
    <b>Visuals: </b> <b>6.5</b>/10 - Nothing special here. The game doesn't look terrible, but at the same time, nothing that makes you go 'wow'. It's your typical Mario sports game visuals. The stages are in general well designed and interesting. Jagged textures are noticeably present throughout the game.
    <b>Audio: </b> <b>6.5</b>/10 - Once again, nothing special here. Just some sound effects here and there, and the soundtrack is hardly amazing.
    <b>Replay Value: </b> <b>8</b>/10 - Some great fun can be had here, but you'll definitely need friends over. The official website says online allows up to two players per console compete with others online.

    <b>Final Score:</b> <!--sizeo:7--><span style="font-size:36pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->7.5<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->/10

    <b>My Other Reviews:</b>
    <a href="" target="_blank">MONOPOLY Streets</a>

    <!--sizeo:1--><span style="font-size:8pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->Note that this is a review of the Japanese version of the game, and that the reviewer, myself, has no knowledge of any Hiragana or Katakana of the Japanese language. The knowledge of Kanji (since I do read Chinese characters) helped in the translation of the game's text in many cases. Any game modes that were named in the review may not be named similarly during the release of the title overseas in NTSC-U and PAL regions.

    Screenshots in this review were taken from Kotaku.<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    CarbonX13's Review Spectrum
  2. kalantiaw

    kalantiaw Member

    Jan 27, 2010
    Sir, is there a chance they fix these bugs when the game gets released in the U.S? Or is it too late?
  3. CarbonX13

    CarbonX13 GBAtemp 台灣人

    Aug 27, 2010
    Vancouver, B.C.
    The core gameplay will likely not be able to get fixed this late into the development, but some minor issues may be able to be patched up before release.
  4. Vague Rant

    Vague Rant Deceptively cute

    Aug 7, 2008
    Now that this is out in English, and just in case anyone finds this review later, whether or not to auto-switch to the player with the ball/puck is simply a setting. By default, all switching is manual, and CPUs will handle play for your team-mates at all times. But you can set it to behave like any other sports title by switching you to the ball-holder automatically. There's another option to set whether the camera follows you or the ball, depending on your preference.

    I only say all this since the review harps on the poor passing controls, but it's really not an issue if you're playing in English or otherwise able to navigate the Settings screen.