FYIG recently got the chance to play Mario Sports Superstars on the 3DS. Find out what we thought about the latest Mario sports game right here!
I remember my first foray into Mario’s vast amount of sports titles. It was Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 and it was a lot more fun than I ever expected it to be. My friend and I played that game quite a bit when it came out in 2000.Oddly enough, I haven’t played a single sports title since then (unless you count Mario & Sonic games in there). It’s one of those things where I do enjoy those games, they’ve just never seemed to really catch my eye. It was different with Mario Sports Superstars. This game encompassed all the notable sports the Mario has ever participated in and put them in one nice little package on the 3DS. The question is, does that make it worth the price?
There are 5 sports included in Mario Sports Superstars: Soccer, Baseball, Tennis, Golf, and Horse Racing. Yes, Horse Racing does seem a bit out of place among all of those other sports. We’ve seen all these sports before and there’s nothing brand-new here other than the Horse Racing. It’s convenient to finally have all of these sports in one game and not have to worry about buying multiple games if you happen to like multiple sports. Everything is right here in one tidy package.
The game breaks everything up into the 5 main sports in a modern-style menu. There’s no story or career mode to play through so you’re free to jump into whatever sport you’d like. A lot of effort has been made to make each sport as accessible as possible with quick tutorials before starting each sport. There’s even a how-to guide for players who want to learn the more advanced techniques. There’s a lot less emphasis on power-ups and special moves in this game than in past Mario sports titles. It leans more towards a simulation experience than an arcade experience and yet still sits somewhere in between.
Soccer features a full lineup of 11 players on each side. You’re able to choose what type of formation your team takes the field in and customize your squad. You can pick 2 main characters and fill your team with a set of secondary characters like Toads. This is a lot tamer than Mario Strikers Charged and is more of a straight up soccer experience. The only real arcade feature is the ability to power-up the ball for a special shot over time. You’re able to turn this feature off if you want to. Personally, I would have liked and honestly expected a lot more stuff like that than just a special shot. I enjoyed playing soccer, but it did feel very bare bones.
Both Golf and Tennis fail to add anything significant and can safely be called a step back from previous stand alone titles. There are only 4 courses with 9 holes each in Golf and the interface has been taken straight from Mario Golf: World Tour. In fact, the whole game mode is just a stripped-down version of that game. Tennis is much the same. You’re able to play singles or doubles and there is the ability for lobs and star shots, but that’s about it. You’re getting the standard sports and not much more here.
Baseball is easily the worst of the bunch here. You can choose your entire team, but you’ll spend more time watching the action than actually playing it. You’ll basically be alternating between pitcher and batter and pressing “A” a lot. You can choose whether to hit or pitch left, middle, or right. You can also choose to hit for contact or power and choose what types of pitches they throw. It’s just mindlessly boring from start to finish. This sport could have been done much better with a little more control given to the player.
The one sport I expected to be phoned in may actually be one of the most fleshed out offerings on the game card. Horse Racing involves choosing from a variety of horses and racing across 12 different tracks. Horse Racing has a very strategic element to it. There’s a herd mechanic that rewards you with a faster stamina recharge if you remain closer to the other horses. There are star dashes and even alternate obstacle-filled routes to use if you’d like a challenge. The races can be long and it gets a little boring after a while, but I thought it was a lot better than I expected it to be.
As an added bonus to Horse Racing, you can also visit your own stable. This portion allows you to customize, feed, and groom your horse. You can even take your horse on walks to gain new accessories or check out the tracks without the pressure of the race. It’s a nice addition and makes this sport the most well-rounded of the bunch.
Any of the 5 sports in Mario Sports Superstars can be played exhibition-style or as part of a championship which unlocks new stadiums/courses. The AI starts out pretty easy but gets a bit tougher as you move up through the ranks. I never had too much trouble to where it was frustrating so I felt like it was a pretty good difficulty curve.
Mario Sports Superstars includes 16 playable characters right away with 2 unlockable characters. If you use one of the Mario Sports Series amiibo cards, the corresponding character will have their star character unlocked in the game for that particular sport. If you don’t like using those cards, you can grind it out the old fashioned way in Tournament Mode. If that wasn’t enough, there are also superstar characters to unlock by using an amiibo card in the Road to Superstar Mode which is a take on the classic brick breaker arcade game. I didn’t get to try this out, but it’s a pretty cool way of making your characters the best they can possibly be. There are regular cards that can be purchased with in-game currency as well, but these seem to serve as more of a novelty than anything.
Multiplayer is a makes the game a lot more fun than just playing it solo. Each sport allows for a different number of players. Baseball is 2-player, Soccer, Golf, and Tennis allow for 4-players, and Horse Racing allows up to 6. Both local and online multiplayer is supported. Online ranking is determined by skill points which start at 2000 and increase/decrease depending on how you perform. It’s the same type of thing you’ve seen in recent Mario Kart titles.
Mario Sports Superstars is a good package of sports games, but it lacks some of the charm that made these standalone titles so appealing. I enjoyed my time with this game, but I can’t help but feel that they didn’t take any risks with this package. The fact is, the sports only stay entertaining for so long before you have to put the game down for a while. I’d recommend this title for people who’d like a more straight-forward experience. It’s definitely missing a bit of the identity of earlier Mario sports titles and that will turn some fans off. If you can get past that, there’s a lot of fun to be had here and a good amount of variety in sports for the price.
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Nintendo for review purposes*