It’s time to look at a relatively obscure Mario game known as Hoops 3 on 3. Basketball and Football are the two big sports that never got a home console game to themselves and at this point I’m wondering if they ever will. Nintendo has been moving away from sport titles after all and maybe they just didn’t know how to pull it off in a satisfying way. Ah well, at least when I get Sports Mix, I’ll get a taste of what a basketballl game would have been like. Hoops does do a good job on the DS though and is a lot of fun so I’ll take what I can get.
The game really focuses on tournament mode and vs mode. I believe that there may be a mini game mode as well but I didn’t end up trying that one. There are 4 tournaments to play through and each of them have 3 rounds except for the final tournament which is 4 rounds. This is less than most Mario sport games which tend to have 6 tournaments but I suppose it’s because the developers wanted to make sure it didn’t get tedious. 4 tournaments is a fine number I suppose.
The game is definitely meant for those who are right handed as you use the control stick/pad to move and then you use the stylus to shoot or pass. You can also dribble faster by tapping the screen a lot which I did for fun a lot, but never in a way that was particularly useful. It was just a lot of fun to tap away. You are able to use super attacks which can’t miss and can’t be blocked, but I couldn’t figure out how to use it. I chalked it up to cheesy A.I. game mechanics and called it a day. There are a bunch of techniques that I didn’t learn here and I suppose I could have finished the tutorial, but why bother right? I can beat these guys using pure fundamentals!
Each game is 5 minutes long which is divided into two halves. For the first 2 tournaments you will probably want to consider just holding onto the hall and not scoring after you take the lead to make the game go quicker. After all, scoring just prolongs the game so if you have a safe lead then you don’t need to go further. Do make sure that it’s a safe lead though as a normal shot is worth 20 points and any coins that have been accumulated by the enemy are added to the total. You can easily see a 40 point lead get wiped away with a single shot. For my gameplay tip, I would recommend running to the bottom side of the court and just running back and forth. The computers usually can’t catch you and if they get bold and try to undercut you, just head up. This strategy is close to full proof for 50% of the game.
The game definitely went all out when it comes to the visuals and the sound. The graphics are on point and have aged really well for the DS. The character models are sound and a nice amount of effort went to the gameplay elements like the actual basketball and the courts. Everything is very vibrant which is nice to see. Same goes for the soundtrack. It’s fun to hear all of the iconic Mario themes like Bowser’s Airship. We even get a brand new song which talks about how they are all heroes. It’s definitely catchy and I hadn’t been expecting a lyrical song like this one to pop up. I’m certainly glad that it did though as the song gives the game more personality. Then we’ve also got Mario’s sound effects. He talks a little more than usual here like even speaking during the song. Most impressive for the usually silent main character.
As far as the length goes, that is naturally less impressive. The tournaments will take you a little less than 2 hours. This means that the game will live or die on its replay value. You do unlock the tournaments for a second time which you can try clearing on hard mode. I’m sure that would be a reasonably fun challenge. Then the rest of the replay value is in fighting other players in vs mode. Definitely a longer experience back when the DS servers were still functional. Still it will be a fun 2 hours so if you can get the game for a good price then you will be set. 25$ is certainly pushing it though so I’d recommend thinking long and hard about it. I suppose it beats most other 25$ purchases if you look away from the medium though.
Overall Mario Hoops 3 on 3 may be a very short title but it is quite polished. A good amount of effort was put into the game. The basketball gameplay is on point and it could be used exactly how it was here in a new Switch game at some point. I do like how they made longer shots a little more realistic to score as you can shoot a ball from very far away and then jump after it go force the ball in. It wouldn’t have gone in without your intervention so that’s why jumping after it is extremely important. Against a real opponent you will definitely have to huddle since they will have the same idea. In this game you feel powerful on both offense and defense which is important. There are also quite a few advanced gameplay mechanics that will help you out once you take the time to learn them. When you buy the game, prepare yourself for the intense secret final boss!