Mario Sports Mix [Review]

Mario has starred in dozens of great titles over the years. This isn't one of them.

Mario Sports Mix

Twenty-three to zero.  That was the final score of a game of hockey I played on Flower Cup.  This type of thing is not at all uncommon in Mario Sports Mix; but rather, it is a perfect illustration of how insultingly easy the game is.  While the complete lack of difficulty is the most glaring flaw, it is hardly the only issue dragging Sports Mix down.  Players can choose between hockey, basketball, volleyball and dodge ball; but a better option is avoiding all four of them.

It is a dark time for the Mushroom Kingdom, as a meteor has come crashing down from space.  Don’t fret though, it’s not actually that tragic for anyone other than those forced to play this game.  In any case, the meteor in question apparently originated from sort of distant sports galaxy.  It splits open upon impact and reveals a hockey puck (a hockey coin to be precise) and some balls for use in the aforementioned sports.  This surprise happening allows players the chance to take control of Mushroom Kingdom and Final Fantasy characters in either 2 versus 2 or 3 versus 3 matches.

You’ll quickly discover that the familiar cast of Mario icons have lost a step since their days on the golf course and tennis court.  As mentioned earlier, Mario Sports Mix is completely lacking in any sort of challenge.  Gamers are forced to play through each cup (Mushroom, Flower and Star) in every sport before they can unlock the ability to play on the next cup.  This formula has been utilized successfully in a myriad of other Mario spin-offs, but the inability of the AI to compete totally ruins the blueprint here.  In hockey and basketball, players can (and will) build up obscene leads in the first half on a regular basis.  You can then spend the second half doing absolutely nothing and still come away victorious.

The AI players are so inept, that will run/skate around in random directions and make little to no attempt to score.  After slogging your way through three cup tournaments across the four sports, you will finally unlock a harder difficulty.  Players will still win handily on this mode, but now they’ll have to actually make an effort to do so.  Mario Sports Mix is obviously targeted at younger gamers, but I sincerely question whether or not even they will find a challenge here.

Mario Sports Mix

Volleyball and dodge ball prove to be slightly more challenging, but not enough to make the game fun to play.  Dodge ball plods along as players get knocked out and then jump back into the action when they score points from the box.  Volleyball requires the player to score more times than anyone would be interested in doing.  The result is that both games move at a snail’s pace.  While hockey and basketball play out better, they still feel like incredibly watered down versions of their respective sports.

Wildly overpowered special moves, items and score modifiers try to spice things up but can’t quite do the trick.  The special moves pretty much account to hitting a win button.  They are so overpowering and simple to utilize that the game might as well just dispatch with the animations and award you an automatic goal each time you call upon them.  In games like Mario Kart, items were used to provide a cheap way for players or AI characters to quickly close the gap.  They weren’t entirely far, but they were always fun and kept things challenging.  Here, they serve as minor annoyances that are quickly brushed aside.  The worst offender is probably the coins that alter how many points can be scored at once.  This leads to incredibly lopsided games, even when facing off against another human opponent.

Neither the soundtrack nor the graphics offer any redeeming values to offset the monotony of the sports.  The fact that Nintendo and Square have given us countless pieces of inspired music over the past few decades makes it that much harder to put up with this lackluster score.  None of the in-game tracks stand out.  Reusing and remixing old tunes would have been a far better approach.

Mario Sports Mix

Graphically, the game looks about as you would expect a Mario game to look.  There’s plenty of familiar locales on display along with the character designs you’ve come to know and love over the years.  The game is hardly impressive from a technical standpoint however.  Although it may look decent on the surface, everything becomes increasingly pixelated upon closer inspection.  Ultimately though, it does look better than most other party games on the Wii.

Mario Sports Mix fails to excel at anything it does.  There are plenty of superior sports titles, Mario spin-offs and party games to choose from on the system.  Sports Mix is far too simplistic in design and difficulty to engage gamers; you will have seen basically everything it has to offer after a handful of matches.  The only positive to come out of this game is that it opens up the possibility of Final Fantasy characters making it into the next iteration of Smash Bros.  Do yourself a favor and sit this one out on the bench.

Nick Santangelo
Nick Santangelo
Nick Santangelo

MASH Veteran

Nick has been a gamer since the 8-bit days and a member of the MTB editorial team since January of 2011. He is not to be interrupted while questing his way through an RPG or desperately clinging to hope against all reason that his Philly sports teams will win any given game he may be watching. Seriously folks, reading this acknowledges that you relieve MTB of any and all legal liability for his actions.

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