Who do you think of when you imagine high flying, basketball action?
I'll tell you who. An obese Italian plumber.
That's right, Mario has decided to lace up some high tops and play a little roundball. And he's brought the whole crew with him in Nintendo's latest sports romp, Mario 3 on 3 basketball.
Notable here is that Square Enix helped develop this title. This contributes to the nice little bonus of being able to eventually unlock Final Fantasy characters.
Initially, I found myself flummoxed by the stylus control. However, once I began to get the hang of it, the controls really grew on me.... alot. Why?
Deeeee fense. Deeeeee fense.
Playing decent defensive basketball is usually difficult in most games and not fun. However, the stylus control in this game allows for a very natural control of your player's defensive moves. A quick swipe down equals a steal, and dragging the stylus from side to side allows you to strafe and move your hands all over, thus realistically emulating real defensive moves. It's hard to explain, but it feels very intuitive. You'll be able to defend the lane, steal balls, and block shots.
You still have plenty of options on offense, however, but you'll probably just dunk most of the time. That's because, with most characters, shooting from long distance is too much of a risk. That said, however, there are some, such as Princess Peach, that are able to pull the trigger on some long range baskets. Luckily, the dunks are pretty entertaining, especially when a special move is pulled off, which is done by tapping a set pattern on the touch screen.
Also a highlight is the many varied and interesting courts. Many have special features and bizarre traps, just like you'd expect in a Mario game. Also as you'd expect, there is the usual array of Mario Kart influenced items.
The only negatives here are the scant multiplayer. You do get single cart action on multiple DS's, but only in the form of a couple of lame mini-games. Also, there is no wi-fi support, which is a bummer, because this would be a fun title to play against humans. At least there is multi-cart play.... but you'll have to wait until this hits the bargain bin to afford two copies.
The AI is decent, however, and there is enough single player content to make up for the multiplayer gaffes. My grade: B-. Another solid sports effort from our plumber friend.