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Mario Sports Mix

The Wii box art for Mario Sports Mix, for the Wii.

Mario Sports Mix is a game that was released in late 2010, another game in the Mario series and one of its relatively few sports titles. This game was actually developed by Square Enix (oh, so that's why they put in Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest characters...), as was its (basic) predecessor, Mario Hoops 3-on-3. The game consists of four main sports as well as a mini-game collection, and it also supports WFC gameplay.

I saw this game in one of my NG Kids magazines, and after seeing it on TV and looking it up online, I knew I just had to get it, and I'm actually pretty satisfied with my decision (which is why I'm doing it for my 40th review!). The biggest issue with this game is that it didn't bring a ton of new material to the table as far as the actual sports go. Is that valid?

Yes. In fact, that definitely is a big problem with the game, the fact that it was a little overly-standard. The clincher is that the game is still good, despite its rather average content.

I won't keep you in any more suspense - the four sports they have to offer are Basketball, Dodgeball, Hockey, and Volleyball. I suppose the best way to do this is to cover it in the same way Ouroburos (from Game Ideas Wiki) did: cover the four sports and mini-games one at a time.

Dodgeball is by far the best sport, because it's really the most exciting and, well, just different! I'm sure we all know about Dodgeball in schools: how its a completely grueling experience for the less-athletic (apparently). However, this is a very different version of the sport from that. In this game, there is a single ball that can be passed between teammates and which is constantly being thrown to either side of the court in order to successfully hit the other players. This ball can be powered up with everything from items to Super Moves. I enjoy this sport the most because I'm a strategy nut, and love games that are to be played tactically. If you're one of those people, play this game, because the items work well, the setup is brilliant, and it's a good adaptation of the game.

Basketball is really just a run-of-the-mill type game, not very impressive. You use the analog stick to move around the court, dodge, and try to steal the ball and throw it into the other basket. The game is really pretty bland, because it's just too easy. Stealing the ball takes no effort, and from there, the characters are so slow that you just run over and put the ball in the basket - no special effort to pull a slam dunk. The power-ups in this game work well, but again, too easy! You basically just apply it and you always score. This game was well-interpreted, but not nearly exciting enough.

Hockey is hockey, essentially. You chase after the puck (coin) and then you try to beat it out of whoever has it or protect whoever has it (depending on whether that person is on your team, most of the time). There are goalies in this game, but they're not very skilled or into the game, more like plain obstacles. This game was faster and slightly more challenging, all improvements, but the game wasn't quite as energetic as it could have been. Still, it's one of the better ones.

Volleyball works mainly like a normal game of volleyball, where you hit it over to the other side of the net in a co-ordinated fashion, and then respond to whatever the other team does. This game is good because it has the best stages, like DK Dock, where the two halves keep separating and drifting around (boy, will someone call in the Department of Housing?). However, the big problem I have is the fact that you have to bounce the ball back and forth a bit to get it over to the other side. This kind of made it feel unrealistic and predictable; I wish there was a prompt or function to let you decide whether you could rally the ball with your team first. That would add a nice tactical element. Nevertheless, this game has the most pizzaz out of them, and it's medium-good.

So what about the mini-games? Lots of people are critical about them, but I actually enjoy them. I'll cover them one by one:

The first is Bob-Omb Dodge, a Dodgeball-based game where you have to avoid getting hit by Bombs as long as possible, and last the longest (or have the most health). This game is nicely challenging and involves good reflexes, so I kept coming back to it.

The second is Harmony Hustle, where you and three others have to hit color-coded volleyballs properly to play a selected tune. You can increase the score by picking up coins, and reduce it by missing or hitting hazards. I like this game for its difficulty, co-ordination, and most of all the catchy music, so it's a fun one.

The third is Smash Skate, where you skate around a stage and try to knock off other players, while avoiding it yourself. This game is active and fun, and provides the good feeling of clubbing an opponent into a hazard, and who doesn't love that? I found no real issue with this game, and I recommend it.

The fourth is Feed Petey, where you have to snag different fruits from vines and throw them into Petey Pirhana's mouth to earn points, but you can be hit or you could miss the shot. This game worked well, but I think it was a little too unreasonable the way you had to jump to get fruit. So, this game is OK if you like the Basketball.

The Tournament Mode of the game also features multiple paths to take, which you can use to play fancy and altered forms of regular games to earn things. I just really wish that they could have applied some of these options to the regular play, as it would have added so much more zing to everything. Still, it's spontaneous and enjoyable, so I reccommend the tournaments.

So in the end, here's my opinion: NIntendo did a good job with this game. In fact, I think it's well worth the price of a buy if you rent it and like it. However, there are plenty of issues that should be fixed in a potential sequel to this game, though in all, I really just think they should make everything a bit more intriguing and engaging. Apart from that, the game is indeed well done, and you'll have fun playing it alone or with friends, so if you like it, buy it.

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