Nintendo has done a fantastic job finding partners to bring characters from the Mario universe to the wide world of sports. It teamed with Camelot Software Planning for the excellent Mario Golf and Mario Tennis games. It teamed with Namco and Next Level Games for the entertaining Mario Baseball and Mario Strikers titles, respectively.
For its next trick, the company has partnered with RPG giant Square-Enix to make Mario’s hoop dreams a reality. In the vein of previous Mario sports titles, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is an arcade-sports romp that mixes the rich world of Mario, a few familiar faces from Square and exaggerated basketball action. From what we’ve seen so far, the game is fun, but not quite as good as previous Mario sports efforts.
The gameplay in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is a mélange of street hoops and Mario-flavored (not literally you deviants) level design. You control three characters in a high-octane game of basketball. Although regular baskets count for 20 points, their score can be enhanced by having your players bounce the ball on question-mark blocks to collect coins. The more coins you get, the more the basket is worth. You can lose coins by having the ball stolen or blocked. The coin system adds a nice dimension to standard basketball play by making you think about scoring, ball and coin handling, and clock management. It’s entirely possible to win or lose a game in the last few seconds by making or allowing a 100-plus point shot.