Mario Sports Mix Review

By Dana Vinson - Posted Feb 24, 2011

Mario Sports Mix should be a fun wrapper for the sports of Basketball, Hockey, Volleyball, and Dodgeball. Instead, it's a boring rehash of wiggleware that leaves you feeling like you've done all of this before.

The Pros
  • It's A Meeee! A Mario!
  • Can get competitive with friends
  • Good tutorials
The Cons
  • Bare bones gameplay
  • Bare bones features
  • Quickly gets boring
  • No MotionPlus Support

Mario Sports Mix Review:

Mario and his loveable tribe of classic Nintendo buddies star in Mario Sports Mix, an over-the-top take on the sports of Volleyball, Basketball, Hockey and Dodgeball. While everyone has a lot of tricks up their sleeves, Mario Sports Mix leaves a lot to be desired, mainly interesting gameplay of any sort.

Is This Really It? Seriously?

When you boot up Mario Sports Mix, you have the chance to pick from any of the four sports. Each sport then has an Exhibition Mode where you play one game, or Tournament Mode, where you play multiple matches against different opponents.

Regardless of which mode you choose (and to be honest, regardless of which sport), the game play is pretty straight forward: use the nunchuck to move forward and back, and then wiggle the WiiMote to do anything. Occasionally, you'll press the A button. Occasionally, you'll press the B button. Occasionally, the game will recognize what you're trying to do. Occasionally, you'll have fun.

What I'm trying to get at here is that Mario Sports Mix is overly simplistic, even for something that's aimed at kids. While the game does offer a series of power-ups (and, in remaining true to the Nintendo universe they come in the form of banana peels and shells), there is a distinct lack of action on the player's part. One, there aren't a ton of moves for you to execute to begin with and two, executing doesn't always mean your results will show up on the screen. Despite the idea of the controls being very simple, you won't feel completely in control a lot of the time because gestures overlap each other. Some sports fair better than others. The gestures for dodgeball are sequenced in a way that you almost always do what you intended to do, but hockey and basketball are a different story.

It leaves me wondering why the game didn't incorporate MotionPlus, which might have alleviated some of the constant wiggling and frustration. The game does allow you to use an alternate control scheme with the Wii Mote turned on its side, but that takes away the whole "motion control" idea, which is even less fun. However, one bright spot is that the controls are pretty standard across all of the sports, which makes for a boring, but uniform experience. 

This is an advertisement - This story continues below

The Toadstool Stands Alone

One notch in Mario Sport Mix's lipstick case is the game's level of polish. The tutorials are straightforward and easy to follow, plus MSM looks great, even if the gameplay isn't stellar. There are fun little add-ons like being able to play with your Mii, personalized animations for every character, and if you are checking just a little too much during a hockey game, you'll find yourself in the middle of a very adorable scuffle on the ice. These pieces of flair do amp up the atmosphere, but they do little to compensate for the repetitiveness of the actual game.

The polish ends, however, when you start to dig deeper into the game's features, or rather, lack there of. As I explained before, you get the choice of four sports, each with two different modes ... and that's pretty much it. There is no practice mode, but that's ok because there is also no stat tracking in the game, even at the most basic level; however, if you win a few games, you can unlock new characters to play with. That's something. 

The only other features in the game are local 4-player co-op, online multiplayer for each sport, and something called Party Mode. Party Mode is comprised of four mini-games that have absolutely nothing to do with the sports themselves. Party mode feels tacked on, and there's really no reason to touch it, as the mini-games feel repetitive after the first play through.

Mini-Games. Maximum Length.

The lack of features makes me think that this game was, at best, designed for very quick pick up and play sessions, which would be totally fine if the games were short. They are not.

Games tend to drag on, with the AI doing most of the work if you are playing by yourself. It feels like each game should be shorter, but they just keep going. Even playing Exhibition Mode seems to take too much time. This may be more of a trapped feeling rather than actual minutes ticking by, but regardless it feels like you're doing too many repetitive things for too long.

This never-ending feeling softens, of course, if you're playing with other people. At least then, you get the benefit of being able to yell obscenities at your friends when they score a goal on your Shy Guy. Mario Sports Mix offers just enough so that when friends are involved, you will get some enjoyment out of it; however, it doesn't come close to touching the multiplayer fun of Mario Kart or Mario Party.

The Princess is in Another Castle...Doing Something Less Boring

Most people find Mario loveable, and this game isn't so offensively bad that it will destroy that warm and fuzzy feeling. With the Wii's maturity as a game console, one would hope that Nintendo would move past slapping his face on a half-cocked title, but unfortunately, that's not the case.

It's a shame too, because it feels like there is unexplored potential here. Maybe with the addition of MotionPlus, or some very basic features, or just a few more modes, the game would have been easy to recommend. As it stands now though, Mario Sports Mix can provide some fun moments, but overall, lacks the zazz that normally comes with a Mario title.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?