Mario Sports Superstars Review
When Nintendo launched the Mario Sports Remix on the Wii a number of years ago, I was super skeptical and assumed a mash-up of sports in a single game – ala the Winter and Sumer Olympic Game titles – would be a fairly short experience, with little replayability outside of parties with friends and family. I was (thankfully) wrong with that assertion, as it became one of the games my wife and I played the most over the months that followed. I went into Mario Sports Superstars with a better attitude, but can’t help but feel a bit let down. While the Mario charm remains, and many will find a lot to enjoy here, it just wasn’t for me.
Content is There
Mario Sports Superstars is a collection of 5 sports on one card: Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Horse Racing, and Soccer. What I think Nintendo did a great job of doing here is making it incredibly easy to pick your favorite sport and jump into a game, very quickly. Regardless of which game you decide to play, the simplicity of the gameplay makes it very accessible, while maintaining a slight Mario charm that will be familiar to Nintendo fans. Oddly, the charm isn’t as over-the-top as other Mario party style games, which might be a bonus for some, while a disappointment for others.
The reality is, this is a great collection of sports mini games if you don’t want to be bothered to grab their alternative, stand alone titles. The golf modes are basically lifted from the well reviewed 3DS title, Mario Golf: World Tour, while much of what goes on in the Tennis mode is directly lifted from the Mario Tennis 3DS game. This isn’t bad, but if you own those titles and are use to those mechanics, the dumbed down and re-used assets and game play mechanics will leave you wanting to play their standalone companions.
Without a recent baseball or soccer title, these modes feel a bit more fresh than the previously mentioned two. Unless you still have a Wii kicking around, the likelihood of you being able to easily play a game of Mario Strikers or Mario Baseball is pretty slim, and the offerings here are more than enough to wet the appetites of baseball and soccer fans. Let’s be straight with this: these are not fleshed out, full fledged soccer and baseball games. They are universally accessible, which means the learning curve is very small, and difficulty only ramps up when you compete against harder and harder AI opponents, which will eventually make you feel like matches are unfair, as opposed to you the player just being outmatched.
Horse Racing is entirely new to the Mario Kingdom world, and while I was most skeptical of this mode, I did find it rather enjoying. As with all 5 sports modes, you can play through a number of cups – ala Mario Kart, Mario Tennis – and unlock a variety of new and exciting things within the game. With all the game, Horse Racing has some semblance of realism as you play, with the champion utilizing drafting techniques to slowly move to the front of the pack, combined with key uses of dashes and star power. It’s the most fresh game in the title, and one that Nintendo delivered on fairly well.
Realism is Not To Far Away
When you think about Mario party style games, you don’t expect a healthy dose of realism in how they play out. However, I found that when playing Soccer and Horse Racing, the attention to detail actually made the matches and races much more entertaining. Soccer was a traditional 11-on-11 format that you would find in a regular soccer match, and has some fairly realistic game play mechanics – free kicks, for example, are way more accurate to real life than you would ever believe. The same type of realism carries over to the Horse Racing game, which I touched on previously. These aspects make soccer and horse racing the premier activities in the collection.
Nintendo had previously only released amiibo cards under the Animal Crossing franchise banner, but are branching out with amiibo cards for this sports title. A key feature of all Mario Sports games has been the ability to level up players far enough to obtain a “star status.” One of the unfortunate aspects of Mario Sports Superstars is that you don’t level up characters across all the games, but rather, individually within each sport. While this does make sense if you think about it logically – just because Mario has star status as a soccer player, doesn’t mean he’s any good at baseball! – it’s a bit of a pain. Enter amiibo Cards.
Amiibo cards come in blind packs, so you’ll never know what you are getting. Every character within the game has a card for each sport – therefore, each character has 5 different cards. When scanned into the game, these characters will provide you with a star status for use within that mini game. This is a pretty great way to get around having to level up every character – especially when you want to play a quick match with someone else who has the game (no download play unfortunately) – but it’s still a costly measure.
Mario Sports Superstars is a tough game to assign a score too. As a huge fan of all Mario sports titles, I do find these games as a dumbed down version of the titles that inspired this collection. Since I own all those titles, there isn’t a big reason for me to play with this one much longer, outside of completing all the Horse Racing cups. That being said, if you don’t have all these previous titles, or if you want to have a collection on one card while on the go, picking up Mario Sports Superstars is a no brainer.