System: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Square Enix
He has appeared in over two hundred video games to date, has taken on professions
from doctor to professional boxing referee, and his combined sales total from all
his games is over 210 million units. He is, of course, the one and only Mario, and it
seems as though his talents never end. From defeating over-sized apes in the original
Donkey Kong to taking the gold trophy in intense cart races, he is a master of
everything that comes his way.
He even raps.
But while his talents may be many, and his games aplenty, the quality of the titles
in which he appears can range from brilliant to mediocre, often with no telling. For
instance, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is hailed as being one of the greatest games of
all time, while its predecessor, Super Mario 64 suffers from outdated graphics
and a controller with a useless analog stick, rendering it nearly unplayable by today’s
You rotten piece of sh—- Wait, that’s a Gamecube controller?
For years, fans of the red-capped plumber/construction worker/referee/warrior/racer/
pilot/doctor/football player/space marine have gradually grown tired of the plethora of
Mario sports games that seem to come out over and over and over again, and yet each
time they play one of those games, the response is sort of the same: Hey, this is
actually kind of fun.
You see, unlike franchises such as Call of Duty or Guitar Hero, the folks
behind Mario are very good at putting out a sh*t-ton of games without making them
increasingly boring with each release. Even so, the sheer volume of games Nintendo is
putting out that are branded with the Mario logo is getting a little ridiculous, and it really
makes it seem like they’re milking the cash cow just because they can. Fortunately
for us, however, Nintendo has finally realized that (and/or gotten bored of putting out
so many sports games) and hired Final Fantasy developer Square Enix to
create the end-all for Mario sports games. I imagine the conversation between the two
developers went something like this:
Nintendo: Hey Square.
Square: Hey Nintendo.
Nintendo: Could you make us another Mario spo–
Nintendo: Come on, just one more.
Not sure what happened from there that made them change their mind, but the point is
that Nintendo has finally said “Enough is enough. Take every sport Mario hasn’t been
in and put them together in one game. Sort of like a mix of sports with Mario in each of
Gee, I wonder how they got the name.
Now that the game is finally released following its reveal at E3 2010, reviewers and
Mario fans alike have got their hands on it and are more than prepared to rip it to shreds
as just another Mario cash in. I imagine their response to playing it for the first time was
sort of the same as mine:
“Oh. Hey. This is actually kinda fun.”
I suppose I shouldn’t have been all that surprised; thinking back on previous Mario
sports games, I think I’ve enjoyed all of them, but I guess all of the internetz and their
negativity had gotten to me. You see, Mario Sports Mix does not have just one
sport like previous titles, it has FOUR.
Which is kinda like three, only one more than three.
The games from which you can choose are hockey, basketball, dodgeball and
volleyball, and I am very, very happy to inform all of you that this is indeed a two button
game, meaning it is played with the Wiimote held sideways (my favorite!). Of course you
can use the Wii Remote and the Nunchuck together, but as far as I’m concerned, the
ideal way to play in order to keep it simple and straightforward is with the Wiimote only.
Now, for those of you that have played Mario Kart- and let’s be honest: who hasn’t?-
you know that there are two essential modes to play in: Single races, and grand prix.
Mario Sports Mix follows essentially the same formula, with the choice between
playing an exhibition match of any of the sports and doing a tournament, which,
similar to Mario Kart, has “cups” and areas in which to play. Once you beat a
tournament of a specific area, you unlock a new area, new character, or new difficulty,
and these things can be used in exhibition mode on your own or with friends.
Now, considering that most of you who are reading this article have no friends, the next
section of this review isn’t particularly important.
What do you mean I have no friends?
I’m just kidding, of course. What’s the fun of casual games if you have no friends to
play them with!? Luckily for all of you cool cats, you all have a lot of friends, and that’s
perfect considering how fun the multiplayer in Mario Sports Mix is!
Like most games, there are two ways to play the multiplayer in Mario Sports Mix: Local
and online. They work essentially as expected, with the ability to play any of the four
sports with up to four players locally or online, but what I didn’t expect from the online
play in this title was how remarkably entertaining it would be. Every time I play it I find
myself yelling at the TV and feeling very tense as the final moments of the game inch
towards me, and each game I’ve played has been remarkably close, staying tied until
nearly the last second.
Except in dodgeball. Dodgeball is my kryptonite, only instead of killing me it just leaves
me with large circular bruises.
The local multiplayer is probably better, but to be totally honest I haven’t played it
just yet, despite being incredibly excited to get friends together tomorrow night and
kick some major koopa shell in basketball. I know from past experiences with local
multiplayer in Mario sports titles that it will be a great deal of fun, and if it turns out to be
anything other, I will immediately rescind this article and post a very long apology letter
to anyone who purchased the game on my recommendation. (Update: I’ve spent all of today/yesterday playing the local multiplayer. It really is a blast.)