The sports on offer are Soccer / Football, Baseball, Tennis, Golf, and Horse Racing – with sporting veteran Camelot teaming up with Bandai Namco to share development duties and fine tune each experience. We’ve seen each of these before in some form or another – though horse racing was previously just a simplified Olympic Equestrian event – with Tennis and Golf in particular having quite a back catalogue already. While having them all in one place is undoubtedly convenient, balancing all of these different sports together leads to the whole package feeling a little charmless, and this is apparent right from the opening menu’s clean yet sterile approach to presentation.
There’s a very direct style to everything, with a sharp, modern design breaking the game up into its different main events. Without a story mode or career mode to follow, you’re free to jump into whatever sport you like, and there’s definitely an effort to make each a compelling and accessible experience. Every event features a quick tutorial upon start-up, and a lengthier “how to” guide with some practice sessions to top things off. For the most part the games have been stripped of power-ups, items and special arcade-style modes, focusing instead on a purer kind of gameplay based around a set of straightforward core mechanics. It’s extremely easy to jump straight in to any event and give it a try as a result, but again it does leave some distinctly Mario-esque fun out of the equation.
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Dealing with each sport in turn, Soccer is one of the more surprising entries and features a full line-up of 11 players on each team. You’re able to choose your formation and customize your squad to a certain extent, as well as taking full control of corners, throw-ins and goal kicks. It’s a far-cry from Mario Strikers Charged, reigning in the madness for a pretty solid simulation of the real thing, with a decent amount of options to play around with. The only real novelty is the ability to power up the ball over time, allowing for your star captain or sub-captain to perform a special shot at the goal. Bowser knocks out a suitably fiery kick for example, while Peach opts for a more agile leap. There’s even an option to turn this extra feature off if you really want to keep things grounded. Just don’t think too much about how Boo manages to kick the ball in the first place…