REVIEW – Mario Sports Superstars

Warm weather is finally coming, which is the perfect time for Mario and Co. to get athletic and play some sports outdoors. Mario Sports Superstars however doesn’t focus on one sport, rather five different sports. Kick the ball around in Football, hit a home run in Baseball, get a rally going in Tennis, score a hole in one in Golf, and race your trusty steeds in Horse Racing.

Does Mario Sports Superstars take home the gold trophy, or is it worse than a doping controversy? Find out in our review, after the break!

Mario Sports Superstars
Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Developed by Camelot Software Planning and Bandai Namco Studios
Published by Nintendo
Released: 10th March 2017 (Europe) 24th March 2017 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Screenshots/Art Courtesy of Nintendo

Mario Sports Superstars boasts a decent variety of sports in this small package, five to be exact. Each one plays pretty well to be honest, the gameplay never seems too confusing, the controls are fairly simple, and playing the sports can be a bit of fun for short periods of time, especially when you have some friends to play with, both locally or online.

I’m usually not a huge fan of sports games, but those based on franchises like Mario do get me fairly excited. I love Mario Power Tennis on the GameCube, and Mario Strikers Charged for the Wii was pretty fun too. Initially, a Mario Sports game that contain five sports would seem fairly exciting, but I can’t help but feel the sports’ implementation was rushed.

Most of the sports feel very shallow when compared to previous games, and very little strategy is involved for the most part. Football places you in a 11 vs 11 game. The controls are really simple, the basic controls are passing with X or B, and shooting with A.

In Baseball, when batting, you literally just have to press A or B at the right time to hit the ball. Pitching is a little deeper, where you have to choose where to aim, choose what sort of ball you will throw, and then press A at the right time to throw the ball in the right place.

Golf is essentially a watered down version of Mario Golf World Tour. You can either use the face buttons to control the game, or you can use the convenient touch controls. Golf is slightly more sophisticated in which you have to aim where to hit the ball (you’ll see a rough estimate of where the ball will land when hit perfectly), choose the power of your shot with the different types of clubs, as well as take into account the wind and rain. Also, if you turn on Manual Stroke, you have to manually aim when taking your stroke, which is pretty cool.

Tennis is an exact clone, though a little watered down, of Mario Tennis Ultra Smash. Each ABXY button represents a different type of shot. Sometimes you require a little strategy to try and throw off your opponent, but that’s pretty much it.

Horse Racing is one of the more interesting selections, most likely because there has not already been a full Mario at the Stables game yet. While racing you have to keep pressing B to spur your horse, doing so will gradually deplete your horse’s stamina, so you will want to collect carrots which are around the course to replenish the meter. Collecting the Star icons will charge your Star Rush meter, unleashing this will allow you to use a big burst of speed. You can also jump with A to jump over obstacles. You can even do a double jumps of sorts to get items which are a bit higher up.

The game mentions that sometimes getting first means that you should stay with the other racers rather than get a far ahead as possible. This is because your stamina meter will regenerate automatically more quickly when you are near other racers. This strategy can be very useful once the CPU gets more difficult.

It is clear that the Horse Racing sport had the most effort put into the entire game, so much Camelot could easily turn it into its own stand alone title. Not only are there races to compete in over a range of beautiful courses, but you can also visit your own stable and take care of your own horses. You can pet, brush, feed, and walk your horse. Certain horses like being pet in certain places more than other horses, and some horses like certain types of feed more than others.

Taking care of your horse will increase its mood and bond with you, making it slightly better in races. When walking your horse around the stable, sometimes you may find a crate which contains an accessory for your horse, which is just for aesthetics. You can run your horse freely around the race courses to train, as well as get some more rare items.

Finally, there is one extra mode you can unlock called Road to Superstar. This mode, which is unlocked exclusively by Amiibo Cards, is essentially a breakout clone. You use paddles, which take the shape of Amiibo cards, to deflect various different balls to break obstacles and defeat enemies. Completing this mode will eventually unlock Superstar versions of characters, which have higher stats than usual. You can also unlock these characters by using their respective Amiibo Cards.

If anything, Mario Sports Superstars is primarily a sports game than a Mario game. There are no gimmicks in any of the sports, aside from boosts in horse racing, and powers shots in the other sports. This can be very disappointing for people like me, who like a bit of quirkiness in a sports game, though those who do prefer a more core sports game with a thin coat of Mario paint, then this may be more enjoyable. It’s especially more enjoyable when playing with other people locally and online.

Overall Mario Sports Superstars isn’t really a terrible game, it has enough content to keep you entertained for short bursts, more so with other players, but it feels like a very watered down sports game. Hardly any of the sports have any extra features we know and love from previous Mario Sports games. Horse Racing was definitely a highlight, and felt like it had the most substance out of the five sports, and Road to Superstar is a pretty fun mode, but unfortunately it’s locked behind Amiibo Cards.

If you are looking for a more quirky sports game, I would stick to the likes of Mario Power Tennis (which was ported to the Wii), but if you want a more core sports game, then maybe it is worth to consider purchasing Mario Sports Superstars.

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