In 1996, Squaresoft and Nintendo came together to create Super Mario RPG. After a somewhat rough relationship and 10 years later, they've reunited and came up with a new kind of game. Not only for Mario, but for Squar-Enix (previously Squaresoft in '96) themselves: Mario Hoops 3 on 3.
Most of the Mario sports titles revolve around less mainstream sports, such as tennis and golf. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 focuses on basketball, which is more mainstream. And it's not made by Camelot, who makes most of the other sports titles. Instead, Square-Enix has decided to try a game with sports and take a little break from developing their non-stop RPG games. Mario and the gang now play basketball in a whole new way.
Part of that new way is the touch screen, of course. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 offers a new style of playing basketball with the stylus, and it's really quite easy to understand. The truly remarkable thing about it is that there's a lot of different controls which do many things, but they are all very easy to understand. The only problem is that the touch screen sometimes gets confused and will mix up what it's supposed to do, but that doesn't happen often.
And that's just the touch screen. There's more to the game play than just that. The basketball itself is completely different than normal basketball. Instead of having 2 pointers and 3 pointers, a player can have anywhere from 20 points in 140 points, which is different. Players will collect coins on moving panels on the court, and each coins represents a point. To help get points, each character has his or her special move, which when executed, cannot be blocked. It's more than just the touch screen which changes basketball.
Visually, the game looks grate with all of the 3D characters, but that's kind of what's to be expected with Square-Enix. There's some nice looking levels as well, and the special effects look really cool. Audio wise, the game listens well. The music in the game is nice, with some old school Mario songs and some new tracks. What's unique about the music is that some of the songs have actual vocals, even though most are just repeating. Still though, it's Square-Enix, so the music is always good!
A nice feature of Mario Hoops 3 on 3 is the fact that there are mini games which actually improve skills. Developing skills lets the game last a lot longer because some of them can actually be very hard for some. Same thing with the teams in the tournaments - the last few teams can be very difficult. All of it allows for a lot of play during the game without it getting boring fast, because it's no guarantee you're going to win. The difficulty of the game was really a surprise, but a pleasant one nonetheless - all the other Mario sports titles are just too easy.
Mario Hoops 3 on 3 is a nice game, one of the better Mario sports titles. Square-Enix decided to take on a different project and did a lot of right things.
Overall Score: 9.0/10