It seems like a sure fire success; a compilation of Mario sports titles in one portable package, right? Let’s see if Nintendo pull it off.
In this package are 5 sports. We have football/soccer, baseball, tennis, horse riding and golf. Some of these are well trodden ground for the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom, though some not so much.
The Five Sports
Noticeably tennis and golf have had multiple dedicated titles Mario so a lot is expected. As such this duo feel bang on, as good as the older titles mechanically. They retain that satisfying gameplay that has been honed over time. In terms of gameplay no more or less than you would expect.
The Strikers games proved Mario is a footie fan while Sluggers showed he can pick up a baseball bat. Horse racing was featured in the latest Olympic title but was just a small minigame, this represents the first proper effort with the sport.
The football feels satisfyingly arcadey and nippy. In a way that modern, more realistic, footie titles simply aren’t anymore. I’m rather fond of that style. Not deep by a long shot, but great to pick up and play. A nice bit of instant enjoyment.
While baseball and horse racing prove to be interesting diversions they certainly don’t have that replayability of the others.
Baseball feels sluggish. Obviously turn based but with an autopilot feeling to much of it the urgency feels stripped away. Pitching is neat with a bit of nuance but not enough to elevate the game. Certainly one for baseball fans only.
As for horseracing it is strangely well made but not all that compelling. The expected equine racing action but with a few extra touches. We have stamina and boost gauges which fill by nabbing pickups strewn on the course. Then a herd mechanic where you gain speed by being close to competitors. The herd mechanic feels similar to the bumping on zero g sections in Mario Kart 8 but feels like unnecessary rubber banding. Finally there is a deceptively involved horse bonding minigame which is full of pet your horse nonsense amongst other things. You may take a look at the bonding minigame once but no more, it feels largely superfluous. The horseracing proves to be neat enough for a quick look but not much else.
Put simply this game is all about the tennis, golf and football. Their core gameplay is solid and very replayable, but unfortunately only has a small amount of depth. They aren’t void of advanced techniques but these tactics prove unsubstantial, instead leaving a feeling that you can master them without a huge amount of effort. Basically these sports work for short pick up and play blasts not prolonged play. This is fine being a portable title though it’s just hard to shake the feeling that with just a little more nuance this package would be far more worthwhile.
The major concern is just how thin on content the game is. Featuring only two hidden characters, a small amount of arenas, no story mode or meaningful challenge mode you will burn through the content fast. Essentially there are just tournament, exhibition and multiplayer modes (which doesn’t include single cart download play unfortunately). Sure there is an amiibo card feature allowing you to play Arkonoid bizarrely enough to level up stats but it serves more as an interesting curio you might play once or twice only. Indeed it could just be a way to sell the admittedly smart looking collectable cards.