Written by: Patrick Orquia
Developer: Nintendo (with Bandai Namco Studios and Camelot Software Planning)
Genre: Action, Sports
No. of Players: 6
Release Date: 24th Mar 2017 (NA)/10th Mar 2017 (EU)/11th Mar 2017 (AUS)/30th Mar 2017 (JP)
Price: $39.99 (NA 3DS eShop/retail)
Platform: 3DS systems
Mario Sports Superstars is the newest entry to the Mario sports series. This game does not feature just one sport, but five: soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, and horse racing. So pretty much, something for everybody, unless you like basketball or any other sports. I have not played any of the previous sports titles featuring Mario and his pals, but for me, this game is good.
Since this game features five sports games in one, it is to be expected that not one of these are as fleshed out the previous standalone games, except for, surprisingly, horse racing (more on that later). Despite this, each game offers enough sports fun for any player regardless of their gaming skills. Each of the sports games are played with the usual standard set of rules, with tutorials for controls and basic mechanics shown the first time you play them. You can jump right into a quick game (Exhibition mode (Stroke Play mode for tennis and Free Race for Horse Racing)), where the player can change the settings, like the number of sets for tennis or the number of innings for baseball. There is also a single player tournament mode, where the player can play 3 straight games to win the tournament against AI players and in doing so, unlock other tournaments with higher difficulties. Two additional tournament difficulties are available to be unlocked for each sport.
Speaking of horse racing, the inclusion of the sport to this game raised some eyebrows when it was first announced. Instead of the more popular basketball, we get this sport. The only other game that I remember that features a horse racing mini-game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and I liked that one. The basics from that horse racing mini-game were the same used as with the one on Mario Sports Superstars, but expanded. Like what I said earlier, it is the most fleshed out of all the sports in the game. Here, you can choose from a wide variety of horses with varying stats, colors, built, and specialty. Aside from the usual single player Free Race and Tournament modes and the multiplayer mode, there is also the Stable mode, wherein you can choose a horse and modify it to suit your needs. You can feed your horse, change its accessories, clean it, and take it for a walk across the field, where you can find new accessories, food items, and other collectibles. Taking good care of your horse makes its mood better and its bond to you stronger, which equate to a better performance during races. Basically, this sport is like a bit of Mario Kart meets Nintendogs. And it’s awesome, and easily the best part of Mario Sports Superstars.
In addition to these sports games, a player can also use amiibo cards to tweak individual characters in the game via the “Road to Superstar” mode, an extra mini-game that is similar to a brick breaker arcade game. If you do well on this mini-game, you will be able to upgrade the stats of your favorite characters. This is not really necessary to fully enjoy the game, as each of the sports can be beaten even at the hardest difficulty. It could take time depending on your skills and interest for the sport that you choose to play, but you can win them all even without using amiibo cards.
The game also has an in-game coin system. You win coins when you win on the games that you play, and these coins can be used to buy collectible cards. These collectible cards are not the same as the amiibo cards, and are just collected for the sake of collecting them, apparently. If you want to 100% complete the game, you may want to give this a go, but it’s not really necessary
Overall, Mario Sports Superstars is a very good sports game despite it being short and not as fleshed out as the previous Mario sports games released in other consoles. Despite that, it is fun to play, with a great potential for a multiplayer online gaming community once the number of players increase. If this title came out in the early part of the lifetime of 3DS, it could have gotten a better place in the list of the best games for the console, but since everyone is now gradually upgrading to Switch, which will eventually be the successor for the console in a year or two, a lot of people might just overlook this game without giving it a chance. I still do hope that it sells well, and if this will be the last Mario sports game to be released on 3DS, this game is a fitting farewell.
- Good visuals, with the usual character designs looking as good as ever
- Good use of stereoscopic 3D
- Very good soundtrack
- Horse racing is surprisingly good and the most fleshed out sports game of the five
- The online multiplayer mode has the potential be really good once the number of owners of this game increases
- The games, with the exception of horse racing, do not provide much dedicated gameplay compared the previous Mario sports games
- The games could have been more challenging; only a few difficulty modes are available for each of the sports games, though some games like baseball and golf do offer manual modes that add a bit more challenge
- AI is good but could be much better
SCORE: 3.5/5 sport stars