Nintendo’s sports titles featuring Mario and the gang are held in high regard by fans. In particular the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf series of the N64 and GameCube. Now for the Wii, Nintendo give us four games on one single disc; Ice Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball and Dodgeball. Is it a case of the fantastic four or will the game simply be balls?
Considering this is Nintendo’s first major release of the year for the Wii, I must say that I am not looking forward to the remainder of the year if this is the quality that is churned out. In a rather shameless waste of the Mario Sports brand, this game fails miserably to compare to its last generation cousins. The main problem is that the four sports are all pretty much identical and executed with so much simplicity, it’s insulting. The controls are identical, with the same buttons used to block/shoot/run in each sport, so every game feels the same. The whole experience feels somewhat rushed and cheap. NBA Jam only used a couple of buttons to play which worked amazingly, but somehow Sports Mix can’t pull it off.
The worst thing about the game is that it is way too easy. On my first game of Ice Hockey, I beat the computer without them even taking a shot at my goal. The AI seems to be all over the place, with the computer characters fumbling about not even making an effort to attack or defend. It’s as if the developers conveyed their efforts on the game through the characters. The game becomes boring very quickly through lack of challenge, which makes unlocking new game modes and characters totally dull. That leads me on to the next point, when you have unlocked a secret character, which are pretty pants anyway, you cannot use them in the other 3 sports, and you must unlock each character 4 times. No thanks!
On the plus side, the multiplayer is quite a good laugh. If you have decent human opposition to give you a challenge it can be fun, but nowhere near as good as the previous games in the series. There are a few different game modes which bring some difference into the games, but they offer little to the package. This game would work best as a minigame collection and made available on Wiiware for a quarter of the price. The best game is Volleyball as you have much more control over your characters and the AI seems to be slightly more intelligent here. Dodgeball was the sport I looked forward to playing most, but is so bad it’s not worth your time. The Basketball is poor; it reminded me of the DS game Mario Basketball, which was bad to begin with.
The Graphics are actually very good. There is not a vast improvement over say Mario Tennis on the GameCube, but it is a decent looking game. The usual chunky characters, bright colours and familiar locations do their job well. The sounds are the usual happy go lucky Nintendo tunes which raise a smile and then annoy after 10 minutes.
Mario Sports Mix feels like a rushed package to fill an ailing Wii release schedule. The games are boring to play with no challenge at all. Buy a GameCube and get Mario Tennis or buy the N64 original on Virtual Console. You will have more fun for a fraction of the price and will save yourself from sending Nintendo hate mail.
Boring, no challenge & overly simple
Good graphics, but GameCube -esque
Nintendo tunes, we all know and love, for a while.