I'm a huge fan of the Mario sports titles, particularly Mario Golf and Mario Tennis. I even enjoyed Mario Baseball more than most. I was excited to see Mario Sports Mix at Nintendo's E3 2010 press conference. The video Nintendo showed had Mario and pals playing basketball volleyball, hockey, and dodgeball. At Nintendo's booth only basketball and volleyball were playable. What I played at the booth was definitely fun, but I'm not yet convinced that this game has the staying power of Mario's golf and tennis outings.
Basketball was similar to EA's upcoming NBA Jam for Wii with the mechanics of Mario Hoops for DS thrown in. The nunchuk is used for controlling the character's movement while a flick of the Wiimote is used to shoot or block. There are coins and power-ups for you to collect. The latter can drastically change the flow of the game in the classic Mario Kart way. I can see basketball being fun for four players or for a quick gaming fix, but it doesn't look like something I'd play by myself for hours.
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Volleyball was the more interesting of the two and required more Wiimote flicking. I've played a lot of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball and Beach Spikers, so I felt right at home here. Again, power-ups and coins change up the basic gameplay. The character differences (speed, power, range, etc.) seemed a bit more pronounced in volleyball, but this version is very early and I'm guessing a lot will change.
I'm really curious to see dodgeball and hockey. A clip was shown of Mario and the gang playing hockey on the sand -- a concept I'm still struggling to wrap my head around.
While I'm not getting the feel of depth or longevity that Mario Golf and Mario Tennis had, Mario Sports Mix has a Mario Party vibe to it. The gameplay is super easy to get into and it should be great for parties. Hopefully there's some additional depth that wasn't apparent in this early version of the game.
Developed by Square Enix, Mario Sports Mix is due out exclusively on Wii in 2011.
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