Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rank Up! Mario Sports on Wii

Mario Sports Mix slam-dunked its way onto the Wii last month, so now's the perfect time for Rank Up! Rank Up! is the every now and then feature where we list a series of games from worst to best. It's a simple concept that's been very popular here on SPC. Today we're taking a look at Mario's sport outings on the Wii. There's been many, but which ones reign supreme? Let's find out, but first let's see which games we'll be putting under the metaphorical microscope.

Mario Sports Mix (Wii)
Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Mario Super Sluggers (Wii)

Mario Strikers Charged (Wii)

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii)

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (Wii)

Ever since the Game and Watch days, Mario has spread his wings and dabbled in other jobs and sports. On the Nintendo Entertainment System, he teed it up on the green in Golf, while it was on the Super Nintendo where seemingly his most popular sports entry was given birth in the form of Super Mario Kart. That series would go on to be one of most popular Mario sports series in history. From then til now, Mario has participated in nearly every sport under the sun sans North American football.

7) New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (Wii)

The New Play Control! line of games was to fill the holes in Nintendo's own release schedule. What better way to do this than port Gamecube games to the Wii with special Wii remote controls? Seems flawless. Unfortunately, the controls in NPC Mario Power Tennis were anything but. In fact, they were fundamentally broken. The game did not register whether you were hitting with topspin or backspin, and the game would randomly lob the ball up into the air. After playing this game for less than a hour, I was embittered and quickly sent the game back to Blockbuster. A perfect chance to show off what motion controls can do, and Nintendo absolutely botched it.

6) Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii)

When it was announced that Mario and Sonic would be in the same game together, millions spun their rumor mills guessing what type of game it would be. Would it be a 3D platformer in the ilk of Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure? When it was revealed that their first game would be a mini-game collection, the hype died down considerably-- but not the sales, mind you. Regardless, most mini-games required you to waggle the Wii remote to speed up your character which by now, waggle was no longer a fun concept. We did it in Wii Sports boxing, we did it to control Link's sword in Twilight Princess, and most of us had had enough. Even with all of the fan-service in the game, nothing could stop this title from being the below-average game it was.

5) Mario Super Sluggers (Wii)

Taking Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom out to the ballgame, Mario Super Sluggers was the sequel to Mario Superstar Baseball on the Gamecube. In this sequel, the single-player mode consisted of an adventure-like mission mode where saving the day awarded you with new items and new teammates for your roster. The fundamentals itself added motion controls to swing at the ball. Holding the Wii remote back charged your swing while for pitchers, it charged their throw. With multiple stadiums to play on including the gimmick-free Mario Stadium, the topsy turvy Daisy Cruiser, and the frozen floors of Peach Castle, America's favorite pastime was well-represented in Mario Super Sluggers.

4) Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)

One could label this as a glorified mini-game collection, and they'd be correct in that assessment. However, each sport unlike this game's predecessor did not rely heavily on waggle to play. Instead you twisted and turned the Wii remote and nunchuk to carve through the snow as you skied downhill, participated in one of many dream events which had you racing through Mario Kart Wii's Mario Circuit track or speed skating in Eggman's Base, and unlocked character costumes for your Wii in the in-game shop. There were many events to partake in from real to dream, and the variety of control made each event feel different from the last no matter if you were interested in speeding through the bobsled course or the slalom course.

3) Mario Sports Mix (Wii)

From multiple mini-games to four sports in one, Mario Sports Mix was an enjoyable romp through all four sports: basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, and hockey. Each sport had its own set of three cups to participate in to earn the mythical star cup trophy in each sport. Doing so enabled you to take on Behemoth from the Final Fantasy series in a two-on-one battle for supremacy. Each sport had just enough depth that repeated playings wouldn't get boring. The arenas were filled with eye candy as well from Waluigi Pinball's giant steel pinballs looming around the stage to Luigi's Mansion's ghosts turning off the lights during play. Mario Sports Mix ranks third on this impressive list of Wii Mario sports titles.

2) Mario Strikers Charged (Wii)

We go from a game with four sports with a game with just soccer as its focus in Mario Strikers Charged. In Europe, this was the first online game for Wii allowing players to take on one another across the nation or across the world. There were multiple captains and secondary teammates to choose from--from the eccentric Boo to the hammer-spamming Hammer Bro. You could even score up to five goals at once using a super shot which randomly shot five balls at your opponent's goalie who had to use the Wii remote to point at the screen and swiftly deflect said shots. One of the better anti-simulation soccer experiences, Mario Strikers Charged is an excellent edition to Mario's sports legacy.

1) Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

At last we've reached the number one spot where Mario Kart Wii zoomed into first place. Filled to the brim with content, Mario Kart Wii features a multitude of unlockable characters, weekly online racing challenges, online play with up to eleven other racers from around the world, sixteen new races, and sixteen retro races from past Mario Kart games. If you can get past the cheap AI who constantly seem to abuse items in later difficulties, you're in for a wild ride. Yes, you'll be cursing out the computer or human opponents when a lightning bolts stops all of your momentum while you're careening over a pit, but for all the cheap moments you'll experience, there's a lot of fun ones to be had as well.


Rank Up! is out for the time being. Until next time where we rank a series of games, we'll be seeing you! Do you have a franchise you'd like to see get the Rank Up! treatment? Let me know in the comments section.

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