Mario Sports Superstars Review-Par for the Course
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Release Date: March 24th
Thank You Nintendo of America for Providing a Review Copy of this Game
2017 is the year of the Nintendo Switch to a lot of people, but the Nintendo 3DS still has a strong line up of games coming to it this year. One of those games are coming directly from Nintendo in the form of Mario Sports Superstars, a collection of five sports games: Baseball, Soccer, Golf, Tennis and Horse Racing. So how does this game stack up to other Mario sports games? Some of the games in here do fair better than others, but let’s take some time to talk about each one in detail.
The tennis game is probably one of the more simple ones of the set to play. The game is really similar to Mario Tennis Open, if not just a watered down arcade version of that game.
The game play is really simple; you can spend the entire game returning your opponent’s ball by simply pressing the X button, but that won’t win you any games. There are a various amount of combo and powered abilities you can do by pressing the right button combinations, or tapping the lower screen at the right time. There are also times where symbols would appear on the court, and if you pressed the button combination it displayed at the right time, you could return the ball for a more powerful, and sometimes unhittable, serve. The problem with this however is that I oftentimes found my opponent having more opportunities to perform these returns over me. Most of my losses in the single player campaign came from simply being unable to hit a star move from the opponent.
While the glowing icons on the court are not need to perform those moves, I often felt it was the only way to ever achieve them. Whenever I tried powering up a hit with the button combos my fingers would often hit the wrong buttons; this may be more of a flaw with the 3DS itself and how close some of the face buttons are together. I also had a hard time maneuvering the touch controls as well because of how awkward moving the circle pad and trying to tap the correct return serve. Although despite these flaws, the tennis game was really fun and enjoyable for what it was.
The baseball mini game is the one I was looking forward to the most, as I have not truly enjoyed any form of baseball game from Nintendo since “Mario All Star Baseball.” Needless to say, while I didn’t come away disappointed with the baseball mini game, I didn’t exactly come away all too thrilled, either. The baseball mini game plays more or less like an arcade style game; each inning, you will the ball and then have a turn at bat. When pitching, it’s your job to figure out which style of pitching is right for you and time your throws so the marker on the screen matches up in the safe zone.
While the strategy for pitching isn’t too deep, it was always nice to try and mix up my opponent as I tried different techniques. That said, it wasn’t often that I found myself making good pitches that led to quick and easy, “three out” innings. You also have star pitches which are far more powerful; that being said, if the does batter hit it, it will be an equally powerful hit. So it is seen as high risk high reward. Sadly, it seems with my luck, whenever I pitched one to try and close an inning the CPU (nine times out of ten) managed to hit it.
The batting part of the game is very simple. Hit the ball when it’s in the yellow square, and don’t swing if you think the ball is going outside of the strike zone. And that’s pretty much it. You sometimes need to call the AI’s bluffs when it comes to pitching a ball or a strike, but once you’re able to read pitches it becomes a breeze. Also just like with pitching, you have special swings which allows your character to perform a more powerful swing. While your team only has a captain and a team captain, any of the lower teammates have the ability to use these moves. These moves can easily turn the game in your favor, with many of them leading to home runs. That being said the only major flaw this game has is out fielding.
Unlike previous Mario Baseball games, you are unable to control your outfield; instead, you have to position the best people in the outfield, and order them to go in or go out depending who is at bat. It just feels like this takes away a lot of control from the player as you have to rely on the AI to make the right choice on who is going to run after the ball. I am no stranger to seeing a player further away make his way to the ball where it landed. There is also a bit of a problem with what determines if a ball is out or not. There were many times where a ball clearly landed right in front of an outfielder that they should not have caught, but the game registers it as a out. While it’s not a deal breaker it did become rather annoying.
The horse racing game is probably the one I had the most fun with. The rules are set up similar to that of Mario Kart, and the person who has the most points across the cup is the winner. While the game may seem a bit complicated at first it gets quite simple as you go along. You speed up your horse by pressing the A button; keep in mind, though, that doing this will eat away at your stamina gauge, and in order to fill that back up you have to gather carrot orbs that are on the field. You can also get star orbs which allows you to build up your special gauge which allows your horse to sprint faster, and have its speeds not affected by obstacles. Overall the horse racing is very enjoyable, and has a lot of potential, I just wish that this mini game was just a bit more fleshed out.
Of all the games, golf is probably the more complex game on here. There are a lot of variables you need to always keep an eye on such as the wind, your stroke power, and which iron you use. But don’t be discouraged! Once you understand all of these factors, the game becomes pretty simple, and quite relaxing at times too.
The game also has the least reliance on RNG which makes it less of a headache, but some of the natural factors of golf such as the wind may still cause some headaches. So it’s always good to plan accordingly before each shot. Once I got the hang of everything, I found the golf to be extremely enjoyable, and a bit addicting at times as well.
The soccer game is very simple. You control a player on the field depending on where the camera is at, and you have to decide on your moves accordingly. This did get a bit disorienting at times, as sometimes it became really hard to pass the ball because I had no idea if the AI would line up in time with my kick or if the ball would get stolen. Like the other games, this one also relies a bit heavily on star power moves, as most of the time when they are performed it can become an easy goal.
Through the use of Amiibo cards you can train different characters and play special mini games with them in training. While this adds nothing major to the game, it’s still an enjoyable little add-on to have a personal training buddy.
For completing the cups in the different sports, you get coins which can be used to open special “baseball cards.” Outside of collecting them, they don’t really serve much purpose outside of a nice little reward for completing the cups.
For the most part, the online in the game is pretty clear. There was no noticeable lag when I played the game online. There is also a ranking system that goes up and down depending on if you win or lose. (Thankfully,) each sport has its own rank, so you can rank up which ever sport you are better at. (I, myself, am abysmal at soccer.) The only one issue the online really poses is that if you and your opponent have the same team captain or co-captain, there is no alternate skin for them. So this becomes a hassle in games like soccer, as if both of you are on the same side of the field, it becomes really hard to tell who is who.
“Mario Sports Superstars” is a very competent sports collection for the Nintendo 3DS. It is great for quick pick-up-and-play; whether in single player or multiplayer, each of the five games are run in their own right. The only issue I can truly find with this game is that each of the games could have been fleshed out more, or offered better rewards for grinding through the single player content. Nevertheless, I can recommend this game for anyone looking for a good sports collection to play on the 3DS. But, if you are only a fan of one of these sports, your best bet is to just find the Mario game that is dedicated to them.
+Solid gameplay for all games
+A solid amount of content
-Too much of a reliance on Star Power