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    Review By WhiteX
NDS: Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (J)
Review by WhiteX
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Date: 2006-07-29
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Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (J)

One of the many Mario sports game, on this one you get a trio of characters from
the Mario Bros. franchise and go play some Basketball against other three with all
the crazy stuff you´d expect from a Mario game, a lot of unlockables and an all new
control interface.

Presentation/graphics 10

There´s nothing more beautiful than this game on the DS to this date, period.

All characters are perfectly rendered and animated, they have different walks, voices and special shots, all with very nice special effects, the courts are thematic, colorful and detailed, with different types of hoops, hazards and backgrounds also a little intro is played before the start of the games.

Music/sound effects 8

Nice and catchy tunes with a different set of voice clips for each character make of Mario Hoops 3 on 3 a good
and varied sound experience, the sound effects are fitting and appropriate, not getting in the way of the fun.

Gameplay 5

Here´s where the cookie crumbles, the thing is that MH:3x3 plays with a Dpad/touchscreen combo that is not
the easiest to grasp more so to lefties like me that have to play with the ABXY buttons, it uses the Dpad to move the player around and touchscreen inputs to command whatever it does with the ball, for an instance, if you draw a line from the bottom to the top, the character will shoot the ball towards the basket, if you draw a line to a team mate, you will pass it the ball, the recognition of the commands is good but sometimes your team mate will be in a position where you will end up shooting to score instead of passing, also the perspective gets in the way on the defense when you try to block a dunk and you are farther than you think from your enemy.

The scoring is made through a combination of collected coins and successfull converted shots, you will get one point for each coin, that you get by bouncing the ball into question blocks in the ground, and 20, 30 or 40 points for normal, 3 point and specials respectively, the question blocks move around the court so it is important to tap the screen left or right to change hand and match the way the block is going, also if you hold the stylus still, your player will aim for a better shot.

Other point worth mentioning is the lack of good AI, your companions are worthless, more often than not you will see them getting a stray ball bounced on their heads and they do not have the courage to pick it up and if they do, I only saw it once, your perspective will remain on the player you were even still with the defensive moves, you will only get control of the ball if you switch players, you never see them stealing a ball, blocking or jumping alongside an adversary.

Your enemies start up just the same, stupid as it can get, it will be no surprise to have scores like 1000 x 0 in the first cup but from one cup to another...I don´t know, i guess they got a ball with the talent of the NBA players because they will sweep the floor with your face, they will become as flawless shooters as vicious defenders, you won´t stand a chance.

That gets in the way of the fun because in the later cups you will forget about coin collecting and aiming focus, let alone specials that take patterns of ten tappings on the touchscreen for Mario as an example, you will try to get in the zone with two passes or less and shoot as fast as you can.

DS factor 8

There´s a configuration to use the buttons but you lose half of the gameplay with it, the game is all played with the touchscreen, that shows an overview of the court as well.

Learning curve 4

Quite steep, you will get some three bursts of gameplay to learn to play it after the extensive tutorial and still the Final Fantasy team will laugh at you corpse on your nightmares.

Lasting appeal/game modes 8

If you can put up to the gameplay, you have the tournaments, the instant action, lots of characters and courts to unlock and the skill challenges.

Import friendly 8 (this will only appear on games marked as "J" from now on)

Very much, aside from the menus, the entire game plays in english, even the voices.

Final considerations

A nice idea, a solid engine and a faulty gameplay make Mario Hoops 3 on 3 a game that you will most definetely wait to reach our shores instead of importing and even when the english version comes out you better rent it first.

(Now with a little help)


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