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Top 10 Mario Sports Games [Best Recommendations]

With the coming of Mario Tennis Aces , everyone is really excited about Mario sports games right now. And why not? Mario Tennis Aces is reminding everyone what they love about the Mario sports games. It’s got a beautiful, vibrant art style that comes inherently with the Mario franchise, looks to strike a balance between super-powered goofiness and a classic sports game, and is bursting with charm (Wario’s tennis gear, anyone?).

So it wouldn’t come as a shock if you were feeling a bit nostalgic for the old Mario sports games. After all, the series has been used more recently as filler in Nintendo’s gaps in their release schedule. But that didn’t use to be the case. Mario sports used to hold their own with Nintendo’s other party game franchises. So, if you’re looking for that certain special combo of Mario fun and sports zaniness, check out what we’re calling the top 10 Mario sports games!


10. Mario Hoops 3-on-3

  • System: DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Square-Enix
  • Release Dates: September 11th, 2006 (US)

Get into what is perhaps the only worthwhile handheld basketball game out there with none other than Mario! You’ll control Mario Hoops 3-on-3 using the touchpad almost exclusively. Use it to speed up your dribbling, draw lines to shoot, or make motions to signify passes and steals. Get as good as you can, work your way through the tournaments, and, who knows? This being a Square-Enix game, you may even encounter a Final Fantasy character or two at the end!

While critics were a bit tentative towards Mario Hoops 3-on-3 due to the controls, we feel this is also what makes the game quite interesting. It’s a bit unpolished, but there’s a neat idea in there, attempting to capture the feeling of playing basketball rather than playing as an omniscient commander like you would in a console sports sim. It’s an engaging experience, and we’d love to see Mario return to the court some day!


9. Mario & Sonic at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

  • System: Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Sega, Nintendo SPD Group 4
  • Release Dates: November 13th, 2013 (US)

Mario, Sonic, and their friends return to the Olympics once again to participate in the Sochi Winter games! In addition to the standard skiing and bobsledding that was found in the previous iteration, you’ll find doubles skating and snowboarding added to the series’ repertoire! Or, if you want to forgo reality, you can try out some of the dream games: Olympic events with special items and powers that you’d expect from Mario and Sonic.

In Mario & Sonic at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, you’ll find a beautiful sports game with tons of content to boot. Even the most negative of reviewers had to at least admit the number of unlockable costumes was seriously impressive. But even if you want to play with your friends, it’s a great Mario sports game. Nabbing the unlockables will just give you extra practice over your friends when it’s party time.


8. Mario Superstar Baseball

  • System: GameCube
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Namco
  • Release Dates: August 29th, 2005 (US)

It’s time for a good old fashioned game of baseball! You’ve got your choice of 6 teams led by Mario, Peach, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Bowser, and Wario, and then it’s game time. Of course, this being a Mario game, there’s a little more than just a simple game of baseball! You can buy power-ups and special moves for your players, like Mario’s fireballs or Wario’s garlic to out maneuver your opponents, or engage in special baseball-themed mini-games.

What really sets Mario Superstar Baseball out among its peers is the single-player content. In addition to the Mini-Game mode, which hosts a whole slew of mini-game tasks for you to complete, there’s a rich challenge mode for you to tackle. Challenge mode comes complete with several different maps to travel around in to complete different missions, adding tons of single-player rich content for the lonely sports gamer to play around with.


7. Mario Sports Mix

  • System: Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Square-Enix, Nintendo SPD Group 4
  • Release Dates: January 27th, 2011

It’s been an odd day in the Mushroom Kingdom. A meteor of some kind has crashed into the gardens, and the local Toads are on the job to investigate. At the scene of the impact, they discover four crystals of red, blue, yellow, and green. These crystals naturally give them the idea to hold a mega sports tournament! There, the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom will play Hockey, Volleyball, Dodgeball, and Basketball for the chance to win each of the crystals.

“Simple” has often been used to describe Mario Sports Mix, but we feel this is actually a point in its favor. The incredibly simple mechanics have been polished to a mirror shine, allowing for some fiendishly strategic sports shenanigans. While they’re all fun, Dodgeball is the real stand-out of the set of games, and we wish Nintendo would make it its own game!


6. Mario Super Sluggers

  • System: Wii, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Bandai-Namco, Now Production
  • Release Dates: August 25th, 2008

Mario and friends just wanted a relaxing vacation in the Baseball Kingdom. But, of course, Bowser has to ruin everything as always. He comes crashing in on Mario’s little baseball party and blows it sky high. As a result, Mario’s been separated from all his friends and has to travel around the Baseball Kingdom in order to find them, plus have one final game with Bowser to settle the score.

What makes Super Sluggers distinct from the original game are the motion controls. Rather than just using a controller to order characters to act, you’ll actually swing and throw the Wii Remote to simulate batting and hitting! It perfectly reflects Nintendo’s pick-up and play mindset when it comes to developing party games, while also drowning the player in a flood of fanservice. Heck, when was the last time we’ve seen old King K. Rool in a game?



5. Mario Tennis

  • System: Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Camelot Software Planning
  • Release Dates: August 28th, 2000

It’s your standard tennis game, but with your favorite Mario characters! Each character falls into their own play-style. You’ve got Mario and Luigi as the all-arounders, characters like Peach and Toad who favor ball placement as Technique players, power hitters like Wario and Bowser who can really smash it, speedy players like Yoshi and Birdo who can cover a lot of ground quickly, and weirdos with tricky shots like Paratroopa and Boo who can curve their slices. Find your favorite playstyle and hit the court!

While Mario Golf was the first of what we know now as the Mario sports line, it feels like the series didn’t really hit its stride until Mario Tennis. Mario Tennis is the one that really made Mario sports games the multiplayer juggernaut that they are now… which is odd considering it’s actually a pretty basic tennis game! But putting the familiar face of Mario on a universally loved game is also how the sport got introduced to many of us as kids, and taught us all how the game actually worked early in our lives!


4. Mario Golf: Advance Tour

  • System: GameBoy Advance, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Camelot Software Planning
  • Release Dates: June 22nd, 2004

You’ll choose between either Neil or Ella when you start the story mode. You’ll take golf classes, play mini-games and even make new clubs to slowly hone your skills at the game. Your goal? Training to become the world’s best golfer and eventually golf with Mario himself!

One of the biggest draws to the handheld Mario sports game line has been the RPG mode. While simply playing the golf game is certainly fun, there’s something rewarding about building up your own player and sending them through the ringer to become stronger. It takes advantage of the lack of easily accessible multiplayer that comes with handheld gaming but still keeps you at your system for hours on end. Combine that with Camelot’s traditionally gorgeous sprite work and you’ve got yourself a winner!


3. Mario Power Tennis

  • System: GameCube, Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Camelot Software Planning
  • Release Dates: November 8th, 2004 (US)

Those accursed Mario brothers have once again taken the lead in the doubles tennis tournament! Wario and Waluigi have gotten knocked out within the first round, but they want their revenge! Bowser’s willing to help out, though, and sets them on an impromptu tennis training camp! So, just before the final round, Wario and Waluigi take over and assault them with Bob-ombs! Mario and Luigi’s quick tennis skills save the day, though, and now it’s back to tennis fun as normal!

While the original Mario Tennis set the mechanics in place, Mario Power Tennis is the one that let Camelot get creative with how they could approach the sport. The power shots added that distinct Mario flair you want out of a Mario game while also adding tactical play to the flow of a match. Do you save your power shots to counter tricky shots? or use them to take the momentum? It’s the philosophy that Mario Tennis Aces is following, so it’s a worth a revisit if you’re excited!


2. Mario Tennis (GBC)

  • System: GameBoy Color
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Camelot Software Planning
  • Release Dates: January 16th, 2001 (US)

You’ll be attending the Royal Academy for tennis as either Alex or Nina. While there, you’ll take classes to exercise and build up your stats to slowly get better at the game. The stronger you get, the higher level opponents you’ll be able to take on. By doing so, you’ll be able to build up your rank high enough to get the attention of the Island Open, where you’ll be able to face off against Mario in an exhibition game.

Wait, didn’t we list this game already? Yes technically we did in the N64 version, but we felt it necessary to separate the GameBoy Color version of Mario Tennis from the N64 game, as they’re actually two very different games. The RPG mechanics were novel at the time (though originated the Gameboy Color Version of Mario Golf), and we’re happy to see Mario Power Aces bring back the concept of an adventure mode in the Mario Sports games.


1. Mario Strikers Charged

  • System: Wii, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Next Level Games
  • Release Dates: July 30th, 2007

Finally, Mario’s take on the world’s game! Choose your captain between your favorite Mario characters, and then play some soccer! However, this being Mario, this is no ordinary game of soccer. Each captain has their own Mega Strike, which is a powerful shot that almost assures a goal unless the opposing goalie can counter with a Mega Block. There are various Mario themed items like Shells, Banana Peels, and Stars strewn about the field, which can make or break the match! Get together with your friends or practice on your own in Mario Strikers Charged’s mission mode and get cracking!

Mario Strikers Charged represents everything you want out of a great Mario Sports game. It’s technical enough to make sure skilled players are the ones who come out on top, but silly enough with the items and super moves that it’s just as good as a party game. Not only that, but the extra layer of polish really shines through in Mario Strikers Charged, as each player animation is infused with personality. Daisy stomps and takes her anger out on her teammates when someone scores against her, Mario showboats with handsprings and jumps when he scores, and so forth. It’s the perfect Mario sports game no matter what you’re looking for!


Final Thoughts

There are so many other great Mario sports games out there that we know we’re missing someone’s favorite. If we missed yours, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!

Mario-Sonic-at-the-Sochi-2014-Olympic-Winter-Games-wallpaper-700x394 Top 10 Mario Sports Games [Best Recommendations]

Writer

Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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