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Mario Hoops 3-on-3 – DS

Mario Hoops 3-on-3 – DS

mh1Platform: Nintendo DS

Developer: Square Enix

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): September 11, 2006

Genre: Sports

Nerd Rating: 5.5/10

In honor of Mario‘s 30th anniversary, I will be playing an interesting product, surprisingly developed by the prolific Square Enix. The second Mario game to be developed by Square Enix (the first being Super Mario RPG), it is a unique DS title that many of you probably haven’t played.

While the idea may seem a bit odd, remember that at this point there had been Mario baseball, soccer, and tennis games. It was only logical a game like this would come along eventually. All of those Mario sports games were a lot of fun, right? So then, how does this one hold up?

The sad answer is, not all that well. The game works how you would figure that it would. Mario and his buddies team up in three player teams to conquer the courts, passing, shooting, and dunking along the way.

The game is simple. though some things really don’t work all that well in my opinion. First of all, the touch screen dribbling. I was never a huge fan of the touch screen controls of the DS, though I always make sure to give the devil its due when they do work well. This game, however, is not a good example of that, as dribbling using the touch pad is pretty frustrating to anyone who plays sports games.



The dribbling is clumsy and imprecise as a result, and it’s really irritating in action. I can’t complain about it too much since there is an option to turn on the buttons, but since this is the default way to play the game, it strikes me as baffling, regardless. Shooting, and doing much of anything with the touch screen will be pretty lame, so I definitely recommend switching over to the button layout for the controls.

Once you change the controls over, you have a pretty standard basketball experience. Stealing, shooting, blocking. It’s all there, but with a Mario skin over it. While I definitely didn’t have as much fun with this as I did, say, Mario Tennis, I will say that it’s a functional experience that plays how you’d expect and sometimes rises above those expectations. One praise I’ll give it is its roster. The game has every character you could really want from the Mario Universe, plus some Final Fantasy characters like the adorable Moogle!

It added some sort of goal to the game in unlocking all of these characters, so at the very least I could say that much was going for the game. Each character expectantly has their own special shots and skills, and all of them look and play out pretty nicely in all honesty. Building your team is a bit fun and strategic as you can combine different character’s elements with each other on a team, though there isn’t as much depth as I would have liked.

The game looks great! And plays....okay....

The game looks great! And plays….okay….

The soundtrack isn’t much to admire either. Although apparently the soundtrack was released separately for purchase, the same song basically looped in my experience. The sounds itself in the game aren’t really bad at all though, as it functions as you’d expect with no flaws. The characters sound like the characters, the music isn’t ear splitting, and the sound effects are about as good as you can ask for.

The presentation itself isn’t bad either, with the graphics looking as crisp and clean as any other Square Enix game out there. Looking better than a lot of original DS games, the look and feel of this game is definitely something that its competitors don’t have. Not to say other Mario sports titles looked bad at all, just that this one looks a lot more crisp. Other than these saving features, there’s not a whole lot of praise to say about this game.

There are a few modes other than the typical tourney and freeplay modes at least, so that adds something to the overall experience. There is a mode called “coin hunter” that greatly resembles Mario Kart‘s battle mode in using items to reduce your opponent’s coin counts.  This mode was simple, but definitely can be fun when it comes to playing something other than the main game. Another mini game is dribble race, one where you’ll be dribbling somewhere in a sort of time trial.


Mario, balling, shot calling, and another third thing that rhymes.

This one is a bit more dull than count hunter, and even the regular game mode. Overall, I feel like there should be something more to the game, because although the gameplay is functional and can be entertaining, the basketball will get boring to even dedicated basketball and Mario gamers.  The unlockable characters (particularly the Final Fantasy ones,) can only keep you going on for so long.

While not awful, this game plays only as well as it should and does nothing more to entice players. While resembling what you would associate with a Mario basketball game, this DS title doesn’t really do anything special, especially when considering the weird fact that Nintendo brought Square Enix on board for this one.

While I can’t say I had a horrible time with this one, I can’t recommend this unless you find it in your bargain bin. It’s worth a try, but ultimately, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 can’t stack up to far superior Mario sports titles or other casual basketball experiences. A nerd rating of 5.5 for a mediocre Mario experience that looks a lot more interesting than it plays.

Written by JMSutherland

J.M. is a traditionalistic writer with a love of video games and storytelling. Born and bred in the heart of Southern Arizona, J.M. grew up on stories around campfires and old cowboy tales. He was also brought up on PlayStation and Nintendo and has high regard for video games as not only gameplay driven experiences, but as the most effective storytelling medium to boot. A study in all things gaming, J.M. considers himself a “video game historian,” knowing everything there is to know about the industry and the history of said industry as well.

When he’s not writing reviews and gaming, J.M. enjoys comics, classic movies, pro wrestling, and generally being a cynical, critical mind. He is also a published poet and lover of fiction writing, so you may find him crafting novels, short stories, and poetry as well.

If any readers have any questions for J.M. please direct them at:


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One Comment

  1. I didn’t know about changing the button layout, but that sounds like a MUCH better way to play this game. Because of the strange touch screen controls, I never have spent much time with this one, but I’ll have to give it a shot. Then we’ll be “Nerd Bacon: Home of 2 Mario Hoops 3-on-3 Reviews!”


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