E3 2006: Mario's Got Mad Hops
Don't Make Him Posterize You
The developer best known for its famed RPG series' is setting out once again to prove they aren't just a one trick pony. This time, the title is Mario Hoops 3-on-3 -- an arcade styled basketball game in the vein of the famous plumber's previous sports outings, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, etc. If you're familiar with any of the aforementioned, then believe me when I tell you that you'll feel right at home with the 3-on-3 action.
The game is literally built from the ground up with the Nintendo DS in mind, with controls totally dependent on input from the stylus via the touch screen. Players can dribble, shoot, pass, and even dunk the rock with swift swipes of the stylus. I'm happy to report that while it may sound like an awkward way to control a game of hoops on paper, the control became second nature after I ventured through the game's opening tutorial. It really is cool to actually be able to control the direction and speed of your dribble completely, in an attempt to keep the ball safely tucked away from the likes of someone like Wario. Actually, most mainstream basketball titles could probably benefit from the DS's touch screen abilities in this regard.
Of course you'll find all of your favorite Mushroom Kingdom dwellers in Mario Hoops 3-on-3, with familiar locals to match. And it just wouldn't be a Mario title without crazy powerups littering the landscape -- in this case, the hardwood. Add in the fact that the game fully supports Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, along with the textbook multiplayer ad-hoc modes, and you have on your hands a likely winner. All in all Mario Hoops 3-on-3 looks like yet another awesome Mario based sports title for Nintendo faithful to indulge in, and proof once again that when Square-Enix puts forth a good effort, they can easily develop a good title that's not an RPG.