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Mario Hoops 3 on 3 DS Review

Mario Hoops is hard to review. Nintendo and Square-Enix put so much production and money into the game, that it is very distracting when trying to review the game on its own merits. This game screams big-budget! It's the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie...only it's a video game on Nintendo DS. When I first picked up Mario Hoops, played through the tutorial, and started playing I was blown away by the graphics, presentation and even the unique gameplay. It is very impressive in the first couple hours, but as I went on to the second tournament and then the third, I realized that this was the most ridiculously easy game I had ever played. I just lost my first match yesterday and am now being challenged in the Hard Mode Star the 7th tournament. It has made the game a little more interesting and a little more annoying. The controls, which I had no problems with in the early easy part of the game when I was just dunking nonstop on my competitors, have become problematic. I have tried passing several times to a player on a fast break and have instead jumped up for a mid-court jump-shot...very frustrating. At the same time, I like the increased defense of the computer controlled players. It should be noted that this is not a basketball game...well not really. Though you shoot, slamdunk and dribble, the game is basically a scramble to ? blocks to rack up coins before you attempt to score and put these coins in your bank. It doesn't feel like a basketball game because the strategy is not about protecting the hoop, since letting a character dunk on you only nets 20 pts., but instead about chasing aroudn ? blocks for items and to prevent the offensive player from collecting coins to add to his potential basket (20 pt. dunk + 100 coins = 120 pts!). It's different, and while I was playing the super easy tournaments I was yearning for the ability to have my brother and friends join in for some multiplayer, which I am sure would be a ton of fun. No Nintendo wifi connection! It's a glaring issue and I can't believe that the developers didn't offer this feature. They poor salts in our wounds too, since you don't have any hoops download play only lame mini-games. They really should've delayed the game to include wifi online play like they did for Metroid Prime would have added a lot of value and fun to the game. That pretty much sums up the game...while fun and amazingly well produced, Mario Hoops lack the extra shine and features that would've made it really great and would've forgiven it for its control and other small gameplay issues. With only local multiplayer and a limited 1player experience, this game's flaws become less forgivable and more frustrating.

Gameplay: 7/10
Pros: Unique take on basketball, the control and placement of dribbling the ball is really cool, multiplayer would be a blast
Cons: The control for passing/shooting can be frustrating, the first 5 tournaments are ludicrously easy

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: Best 3D graphics on DS hands down
Cons: ?

Sound: 9/10
Pros: Clear quality voicework, amazing sounds, catchy theme song
Cons: Each charater only says a couple things and it can get very repetitive

Lasting Appeal: 5/10
Pros: Mini-games included, multiple tournaments, multiplayer game is fun
Cons: Limited multiplayer support, mini-games are lame, single player is too easy and the only incentive to keep playing is becuase you want to unlock new characters and can't play with a friend or online

Average: 77.5%
Tilt (+/-): - 7.5% I
t is just inexcusable that some of the features weren't included in this game, it only makes it worse that the game has such high production values. All the more reason to take the time and spend the money.

Verdict: 70%

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