Mario Sports Superstars is unlike any other sports game that you have played. With energetic arcade action, it promises more than a simple pick ‘n mix of sporting activities in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Here are five reasons why the Nintendo 3DS exclusive could very well be a sporting triumph:
1. It’s The Mario Sports You Know And Love
We have already been able to demonstrate our sporting prowess in Mario Tennis Open and Mario Golf: World Tour on Nintendo 3DS, but Mario Sports Superstars brings together everything that we have come to love about the Mario Sports series.
The 5-in-1 sports game will allow players to take on Mushroom Kingdom challengers in Football, Baseball, Tennis, Golf and Horse Racing, with an 18-strong character roster that each has their own style of play – whether that be Balance, Technique, Speed or Power.
Nintendo has enlisted Camelot Software Planning’s talent for the Tennis and Golf games, drawing on their expertise to deliver a content-packed game that looks to succeed where Mario Sports Mix had stumbled while letting their own sense of fun loose on the other sports that populate the Game Card. That results in Mario Sports Superstars presenting an experience that readily strides across components that are both familiar and refreshing.
2. Making One-Two Passes In Football
We’re still holding out hope for Mario Strikers Charged Football‘s eventual return, but we can take solace in the fact that 11-a-side football in the Mushroom Kingdom arrives on the Nintendo 3DS for the first time in Mario Sports Superstars. And, it’s an absolute blast.
After selecting your captain and assistant captain from the Mushroom Kingdom favourites, you will rally Red Toads, Red Koopa Troopas, Magikoopas, Shy Guys, Blue Penguin Toads, Goombas, Hammer Bros. or Spikes to fill the rest of your squad, with either Boom Boom or Pom Pom in goal.
With the chance to strategise by choosing formation and character positions, your team will then enter the stadium where they will tussle for possession before dash-dribbling the ball up the pitch, bending your shots on goal or, if enough excitement can build, unleashing a near-unstoppable fiery Special Shot.
It’s all frantic fun and while the Mushroom Cup in Tournament mode hasn’t been a particular challenge so far, we’re looking forward to seeing whether the difficulty ramps up as we progress. Seeing Blue Penguin Toads celebrate a goal has never failed to raise a smile, and the game has even left us wondering how Goombas can do throw-ins. Answers on a postcard.
3. Feel The Thrill In Horse Racing
After Pocket Card Jockey proved to be an incredible experience when it saddled up on the Nintendo eShop, Horse Racing is a similarly addictive sport in Mario Sports Superstars.
With players turning, jumping and dashing as they aim to race around tracks faster than their competition, avoiding obstacles that will temporarily hinder the speed of their gallop. Stars and Carrots line each course, the orange root vegetable restoring your horse’s stamina whereas collecting five stars will fill one charge on your Star Gauge.
Some items will lie just out of reach, requiring players to firstly make their horse leap before their Mushroom Kingdom character can then make another jump for extra height. We wouldn’t require trying such death-defying leaps at home, but securing these items can see a race that you are losing soon result in a more positive outcome.
That largely comes after using a blazing-fast Star Dash, with players able to store up to three Star Gauge charges. The Star Dash will last longer depending on how many charges have been filled up, and, when activated, your horse can gallop through grassy areas without slowing down.
When surrounded by other horses, your horse will recover more stamina – something that Nintendo refers to as the Herd Effect. That means that it’s important to keep near other competitors to maintain your speed, before galloping to victory at the final furlong.
Players can also spend time with their horse to create a lasting bond of friendship in Stable mode, improving your horse’s mood which will see it perform better for you in races. With the freedom to customise your equestrian companion, players can look after their horse by petting, dressing, feeding and cleaning it, with the mode sharing many similarities with nintendogs + cats. One surprise came in the chance to ride your horse around a farm, discovering boxes that contain items such as feed, coins or accessories.
4. Breaking Bricks With amiibo Cards In Road to Superstars
There will be a new range of Mario Sports Superstars amiibo cards that accompany the Nintendo 3DS exclusive, with 90 cards to collect – 18 for each character that depict them participating in the five sports. amiibo collectors will have rejoiced at the news, but many will want to know how the cards will interact with the game.
Once scanned in-game, players can unlock the corresponding Star Character for use in the sport matching that on the card. These characters have boosted statistics in comparison to their original counterparts, and the amiibo card will also reward players with a special item to use – whether that be a colourful new tennis racket or stylish golf club.
The amiibo cards will also unlock Road to Superstars, a brick-breaking style mini game. Here, players will break down walls and defeat enemies with items that relate to the sport shown on the amiibo card, steadily making their way to a boss character that, once defeated, will see the character and sport on the amiibo card receiving the Superstar status.
It’s worth the effort, too. Superstar status will once again boost the character’s statistics, beyond even those possible with a Star Character. These Superstar Characters can then be used in any mode related to the sport they have been unlocked in.
5. Competing Online Against Others Around The World
Each sport not only has a single-player Tournament mode but players can compete in Local Play. But, with news that Nintendo Switch will introduce a paid online service, it’s clear that Nintendo has become increasingly serious about wanting to allow players to ignite their rivalries online.
Mario Sports Superstars is no different, with online multiplayer supported across all five sports. Four players can take each other on in Football and Golf, two players can look to strike Home Runs in Baseball, while six players can gallop alongside one another in Horse Racing. Tennis is slightly different for some reason where two random players can face each other, or if playing with friends four players can take to the court.
Matchmaking appears to be simple with players heading to the Multiplayer menu before choosing whether to play “With Friends Online” or “With Players Worldwide,” your skill rating determining who you will face. Nintendo has also come up with a solution to address those that quit early, whether on purpose or unexpectedly. The points for the game up until that point will still affect the player’s rating, which will hopefully alleviate some frustration.
That presents tremendous breadth to the online component, and, while we will need to see what community builds around the Nintendo 3DS exclusive, it’s hard not to be impressed at the effort that has been made for the trusty handheld.
Mario Sports Superstars will release exclusively on Nintendo 3DS in Europe on March 10th, and in North America on March 24th.