Mario Slam Basketball
Getting basketball to play realistically in a virtual environment, it’s been tried many times before. The minority has actually succeeded in this goal. Think about 2K Sports’ NBA 2K’s or the NBA Street (although not very realistic) series by EA Big, every game being worth playing. Unfortunately there are also less successful games out there, NBA Live for example which keeps on downgrading itself with every new release. With all these games supporting the same idea, Nintendo wanted to take basketball onto another level. Will Mario Slam Basketball be one of the better games or will it rather be part of the suckage-group?
Like I mentioned earlier, this is no ordinary basketball game, but it’s one in authentic Mario style. You’ll be able to play with Donkey Kong, Luigi, Peach, Wario, Mario, Yoshi, … Just name it! They’re all available to play a totally wacko game of b-ball on courts all over the Mushroom Kingdom. The matches are formed by two teams consisting of three players each. The fact you’re playing three on three games isn’t all that out of the ordinary, it’s the way in which you earn your points and how you defend your basket.
First of all, scoring. If you’re playing by the original basketball rules, you earn two points when you get the ball through the ring (unless you’re behind the three-point line, then you’ll earn three). In Mario Slam Basketball you earn coins instead of points. When you dunk you’ll earn something around 10 coins, with a shot you may earn about 30, … However, you can raise the coins you earn with one shot or dunk by collecting more coins before you head for the rim. On the court floor you’ll find the traditional question mark blocks (yes, those blocks you find in every Mario game) and when you dribble over them, you’ll earn some extra bucks. The more blocks you dribble on, the more coins you’ll earn. When you find you’ve collected enough gold, you can head towards the hole and put your bal through it. When done so, you cash in all the money you’ve earned up till then and they’re added to your total.
Okay, so now we know how to gain some points, but how do we prevent the opposition from doing so. Simple, just steal the ball by punching your opponent or throwing objects like shields or bananas (which you find in the ?-blocks) at him. However, if they would have the chance to throw the ball at the goal, you can always try to block the shot.
All these things can be done by using the D-pad, Stylus and Touch Screen. The D-pad is used to make your character run around, the Stylus and Touch Screen let you execute all other moves. Shots, dunks, punching, jumping, throwing, … Even dribbling speeds can be chosen by you. With the pen you choose where you dribble and how fast you do it. When you tap the upper-right corner of the TS, the ball will bounce in front of your player on the right hand side. In this way, you can prevent the opponent from stealing the ball by keeping it away from him. The same can be done while you’re charging your shot. Move the ball around so they can’t smash it from your hands. The controls are elaborate, yet simple to learn. Ideal for this kind of game!
Next to this normal game mode, there’s also a challenge mode. Here you have to collect 100 coins by dribbling on the ?-blocks (so no making goals) and as soon as you’ve gained the money, rush towards the finish line.
On graphics and sound fields, there is no problem at all. You can compare it to Mario Kart DS. Relatively good images (looking at the genre and style you’re playing in, it are cartoons after all) and the same goes for the sound, bouncing balls, squeaking shoes, … All typical basketball sounds are there. Nothing more to say about it actually.
Conclusion: a relatively innovating game when we’re talking controls and the form of basketball. The question is ‘Will it keep on being interesting although it has a rather repetitive gameplay?’. The game is very easy to learn which makes it a great game for kids somewhere around the age of 7 tot 10 years old. All in all it remains a fun game, mainly cause of the controls.