Mario in Sports…
One thing that it’s tough to argue with is that Nintendo does its core characters well. You can question how they have handled console releases (the last couple generations) and you can question the way they handle indie titles and third party titles. When it comes to Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, etc, they usually hit the mark. Another thing that they have done extremely well (in my opinion) is take the Mario cast of characters and put them in a sports game. I’ve always been fond of Mario games and sports games. Why not put them together?
There have been many off-shoot Mario games, far too many to list here. Mario Party is extremely fun to play with a group of people. Mario Kart is a favorite of many. Dr. Mario, all of the Yoshi games, again too many to list. How many folks remember the Mario and Sonic Olympic games? I admittedly have never played either of those games but Nintendo certainly tried to milk that branding cow for all that its worth. Then the main 4 sports spinoffs: golf, tennis, soccer, and baseball. I have played all of them, some more than others. The two that I put the most time into were the Game Boy Advance iterations of golf and tennis – Mario Golf: Advance Tour and Mario Tennis: Power Tour. The reason for this was probably spending about an hour and a half commute each day back and forth between my parent’s houses. I wouldn’t consider them my favorite per say but definitely the most played due to the circumstances at the time.
The thing that I liked the most in the games were the RPG elements in improving your characters and then all of the Mario sports games with character acquisition. Playing through a season or through a certain exhibition to defeat a team/opponent to earn the access to another Mario character feels pretty satisfying. It adds something to the level of motivation of normal sports games which is just to win. In addition to earning characters in the various games you can also unlock new venues and new equipment that is tailored to the Mario Universe; for example, the most premiere court to unlock in Power Tour was a court at Princess Peach’s castle.
In addition to having the aesthetic of a Mario game, each game also has the addition of arcade like game play within the given sport. You may have a signature shot or ability for each character which is unlike anything that one could do in real life which gave you that reminder that you were still in the Mario universe. While I enjoy a hardcore sports simulation it is also really fun to just throw all of that out of the window and play the Mario sports every once and a while. If they reboot these titles on the Wii U, it may just be enough for me to purchase the console. Until then, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Nintendo makes that happen.
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