For almost his entire career, everyone's favourite chubby plumber has proven that he's an athletic all-star. Now that he and his gang of Nintendo chums released a collection of five sports for 3DS, does he still have enough prowess as an athlete?
Sure, Mario Sports Superstars released almost two months ago but I only recently had the opportunity to play through it. In essence, it's a compilation of five sports: soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, and horse racing. I know what you're thinking; why would they make a collection of five games that would otherwise be released separately? Although I don't know the answer, I can easily say that it's one heck of a great deal to get four well-established Mario sports games and a brand new horse racing mode in one package. Obviously, you don't get as much content per sport as you would in the previously released full games (with the exception of Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash which was disappointingly bare-bones) and the sports themselves are generally simplified but what's included here still remains nothing short of impressive.
As you try out the included sports, you'll quickly be reminded just why the Mario universe is successful as the visuals and sound are oozing with charm. The variety of characters are wonderfully animated as they compete and they're still lovely to watch even when you see them strolling off the field at a soccer intermission. Also, the 3D is superbly implemented which adds an even deeper level of immersion. Overall, it's easy to get lost in the familiar and colourful world that Mario Sports Superstars presents.
Thankfully, the sports themselves are enjoyable to play. I must admit, soccer isn't the best mode here but its simplistic take on the sport can be fun. It reminded me of Mega Man Soccer as it features similar basic gameplay. On the other hand, Baseball is a blast. Both pitching and batting is handled intuitively and you can choose to have the field players act automatically or manually which helps streamline the gameplay. Tennis is as enjoyable as ever and I especially appreciated the shortcuts for more advanced moves on the touchscreen. Golf is also a ton of fun although there are only four courses to master so it may get a little repetitive after a while.
List of characters in Mario Sports Superstars
- Baby Mario
- Baby Luigi
- Diddy Kong
- Bowser Jr.
- Donkey Kong
Finally, horse racing is the most novel featured sport. At its core, it's a basic racer where you collect carrots and stars in order to gain enough endurance and boost power to help you pass your opponents. There's also a system where horses gain energy from being close to each other so if you get too far ahead then you might not maintain the position for long. The controls merely involve steering, dashing, jumping (and double-jumping), braking, and unleashing the Star Dash boost ability.
It might seem simple but there's also a horse management system in place. Basically, you can enter the stable to form a relationship with your horse by petting, brushing, and feeding it as well as equipping accessories onto it and taking it out for a stroll (where you can collect items). Considering the horses are downright adorable, all of this additional content is great fun to play around with.
When it comes to content, each sport can be played solo, with friends via Local Play, and online. The single player portion consists of championship, exhibition, and ring challenge mini-game modes per sport. You can also scan amiibo cards which allows you to train sport-specific characters via a Breakout-style mini-game called Road to Superstar. There are virtual cards, too, that you can unlock with in-game currency or by scanning amiibo. Unfortunately, this is the only way in which amiibo statues can be used. Clearly, Nintendo wants players to buy their new Mario Sports Superstars amiibo cards but not allowing fans to train their statues is disappointing.
Solo content aside, Mario Sports Superstars shines brightest while playing it with others. I personally didn't get to try the Local Play mode because none of my friends own a copy of the game. Honestly, this kind of annoyed me. Mario Party Star Rush got it right as it allowed players to download a free version of the game in order to play it with friends who own a copy. Why they didn't include such a feature here is beyond me. Anyway, I did get to play plenty of online matches and they went surprisingly smoothly with the exception of a few players dropping out mid-game. For the record, my favourite sport to play online is tennis. I don't know why but I could spend hours playing it against strangers from around the globe even though I usually end up losing pretty badly.
Mario Sports Superstars is bursting at the seams with a varied collection of enjoyable content. If you're a fan of Mario's sports games then this is one compilation that you'll likely find yourself enjoying for years to come.
- + Five unique sports that you can enjoy either solo, online, or via Local Play
- + Classic charming presentation
- + Impressive amount of extras to explore
- - The sports are generally simplified and don't feature many bells and whistles
- - Very limited use of amiibo statues
- - No Download Play functionality