The use of power shots in Tennis is particularly enjoyable and the difficulty curve feels spot on. During matches when the ball is returned, there appears on the court an area within which if the player hits the ball with a specific button combination the return shot will swerve and cause the opposing player considerable difficulty. It is not impossible to return these shots, but it certainly is difficult. As with 'football,' Tennis is divided into exhibition and tournament play, but because of the slightly more leisurely pace and short games the idea that this could provide some quick 'pick up and play' fun is more realistic.
Golf is similarly enjoyable in short bursts, but the lack of the modes of play available in both games rather limits replayability. Once each tournament has been won there is little incentive to go back.
I was rather surprised to find that baseball was one of the better games in the package, despite being based on a sport that I find to be monumentally dull. Choosing which types of ball to play when throwing and trying to catch out the batter is very enjoyable and the feeling of striking a home run almost made me forget about 'football.'
'Horse Racing' is hardly Mario Kart
, but coming first does require some strategic thinking as the player's horse receives a boost when surrounded by other horses, this leads to a mad dash towards the finish line by the end of each race.
Visually, each game is competent with only Golf really standing out as being anything more than average at this stage of the 3DS' life.
Unfortunately each game is also accompanied by a truly awful soundtrack. Again, 'Football' is particularly at fault here and after hearing the same terrible music on the loop for five minutes (the shortest possible game) I was more than ready to switch the sound off entirely. I have seen it argued that the music fits with the overall theme of the game and that Nintendo often embraces more 'cheesy' styles. Whilst most games set in the Mushroom Kingdom often feature music that is relentlessly upbeat, the tunes are usually at least catchy. The music in Mario Sports Superstars
could never be accused of being that.
Overall, although I have been rather negative, there are some elements of Mario Sports Superstars
that are very fun. Golf, Tennis and even Baseball are worth spending time with and are perfect for a quick game now and again. All of the games featured are stripped-down facsimiles of sports videogames. There is nothing wrong with simplifying games to make them more accessible and suitable for 'pick up and play,' however the true mobile greats are those that encourage the player to keep playing, to put off going back to work just for another go.
The game is more enjoyable online, but there do appear to be problems with balance (particularly with 'football') that may limit the number of people that want to play online. By exploiting the technical problems with the game I was able to win one game 13-3, which I can't imagine was very much fun for the opposing player. The Mario Sports
games usually offer a good, less serious alternative to the more traditional sports games available. However, they have generally been very solid games with a great deal of depth and the incentive to go back.
Mario Sports Superstars
, although fun in places doesn't quite offer enough to warrant repeated play. Having said that, I do hope that Nintendo has another go at the genre. The games do have a lot of potential. Unfortunately, in this case, it is rather unfulfilled.
+ Tennis and Golf are perfect for the format.
+ Baseball is surprisingly engaging.
+ Visually solid.
- Difficulty spikes.
SPOnG Score: 6/10