Reviewed by Jimmy | 10.23.06
What do Airships, Chocobos and Moogles have in common with Plumbers, Apes, and Winged Turtles? Nothing really, except the recently released Mario Hoops 3-on-3. In a dynamic roundabout developer Square Enix from Final Fantasy fame has made a sports game! If it wasn't bizarre enough, they are innovating with the Nintendo DS for a 3 on 3 showdown of basketball. If you're as curious as I was continue reading for Extreme Gamers review of Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for the Nintendo DS.
Nintendo is really on a mission to rewrite the principles of how we game with their "Touch Generation" approach. Along with the upcoming release of the Wii, Mario and the Nintendo DS is taking on classic sports games with this new philosophy. Square Enix takes the lead by recruiting Mario's gang for a good old game of b-ball. Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is the name of the game, and swinging the stylus is how you play.
From the get go, I wasn't expecting too much from Mario Hoops, and I'm sure a lot other gamers where thinking the same thing, "Not another Mario Sports Game". Well, I should have known better, because Mario Hoops surpassed all my expectations. Square Enix really came through milking the touch screen technology for all its worth. Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is the most stylus heavy game I have played to date, and that's a good thing.
Using the touch screen and stylus is really the way to go and it adds a level of fun you couldn't get from using standard controls. Instead of relying on the button controls the stylus focused gameplay has the gamer swiping every which way hoping to score a few points. Every motion besides moving your character is represented in particular swipes with the stylus. You dribble by repeated dotting the touch screen, and shoot by making a line up and so on. If you're new to the DS don't be discouraged because the controls are easy to grasp after you run through the tutorial. It's innovations like Mario Hoops that keep the DS selling by the millions, keeping Mario one slam dunk ahead of the competition.
The main game mode in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is the tournament play which has you moving through a succession of games progressing upwards in Tournaments. Each game only takes about three minutes which are divided between two short halves. This makes Mario Hoops the perfect game to pick up and play, get a few rounds in and then catch your bus. Winning tournaments unlocks costumes and new balls customizing the action. The goal is to move up the ladder to the fourth and final tournament, the Rainbow Tourney, but I think the real goal is to have fun.
Scoring is presented with an unusual twist. You score a set amount by shooting in a basket of 20 points, but you also can boost up your point value by grabbing coins around the court. Coins are located in question mark boxes which you have to dribble on. It's really not uncommon to see game scores reaching the hundreds. The main strategy is to get the ball, collected coins then dunk, if you're on the defense then its get the ball and collect fallen coins. Scoring in Mario Hoops is a lot of fun and it was a great twist that fits this games personality perfectly.
The other modes in Mario Hoops are a short lived and only consist of Exhibitions, Multiplayer Match-Up and, are exhibition, multiplayer Match Up and Challenges. Exhibition and Multiplayer is pretty standard, and the Challenges follows suit. In the challenges you can do 'Special Shots' that require you to do some fancy stylus work like spelling out "M" for Mario special fireball shot. You also can practice the techniques used in the game or the 'Dribble Challenge' which has to dribbling on squares to collect coins while avoiding turtle shells. These mini-games and exhibition matches leave little to imagination, but for what its worth they provide some enjoyment.
Another reason Mario fans will like Mario Hoops is for the characters. There are ten characters to start with, Mario and Luigi, Princess Peach and Princess Daisy, Wario and Waluigi, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong and Bowser Jr and the green Dinosaur Yoshi. You can also unlock special character through the tournament mode which includes a few Final Fantasy guest appearances. The list of unlockable Nintendo characters starts with Bowser, and then the more uncommon Fly Guy, Dixie Kong, Birdo, Boo, and Koopa Paratroopa. For Final Fantasy we won't see Vincent, or Cloud, but we have the White and Black Mages, a Ninja, Cactuar (cactus guy) and a loveable Moogle.
The presentation of Mario Hoops falls along the normal lines for Nintendo DS games. The art has the typical think lined cartoon look and the sound comes together with all the proper blips and bleeps. There really isn't much to complain about because nothing was expected. The only area where Mario Hoops 3-on-3 falters is the lack of Wi-Fi support and the lack of mini-games. Besides those two factors Mario Hoops is a total success and a good showing for Square Enix's second Nintendo themed game.
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is a fun take on basketball which proudly makes use of the Nintendo DS's best feature, the touch screen. If you're a fan of Mario and you want a quick and easy fun game, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is your slam dunk. I had a lot of fun while reviewing Mario Hoops and I strongly recommend checking it out.
Gameplay: 7.5, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 8. Final: 8 / 10
Inventive and Fun Controls, Final Fantasy Characters, Good Production
Lackluster Mini-Games, No Wi-Fi Support
- Control the action with the stylus
- Special jams and super shots blow away your opponent
- Tons of unique courts and special basketballs
- Play wirelessly against a friend