After Mario Golf, What Sport Should Mario Do Next?

Mario Golf: Super Rush launches today, bringing with it a cast of 16 classic Mario characters. There’s, well… Mario, but also the likes of Luigi, Peach, and Daisy, as well as the rogues gallery of Wario, Bowser, and – the only character mentioned so far who’s not in Smash Bros. – Waluigi. There are also some more out there picks like Pauline and Chargin’ Chuck, which help establish the kind of variety a game like this needs. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet, but our Mario Golf review rates it fairly highly while pointing out some of its more frustrating issues, so I reckon I’m in for a decent time. The problem is I’m a bit of a sports goblin, and with the Euros on right now, this has hit fever pitch – that’s why my first reaction to the Mario sports game was ‘what’s the next one?’

At first, I thought the choice for the next Mario sports game was obvious – clearly, it should be Mario Strikers, right? We’ve just had Golf literally today, and Tennis Aces is on the Switch too. That leaves just Strikers, Sluggers, and Hoops, and even then, does it really leave Hoops? That’s not really a series in the way the first two are – in fact, on the Wikipedia page for List of Mario Sports Titles, Hoops is filed under ‘Other Games’. Hoops is decent, but it’s just not on the level as the other two. Football is /my/ sport, as much as I like baseball, so Strikers would be my clear choice over Sluggers, but I also think it should be more open to experimentation. Mario Golf: Super Rush includes some creative new modes like Speed Golf and Battle Golf, and it’s easy to see how that type of innovation could work in Strikers.

Football is a much more malleable sport than baseball. If you play baseball in the street, you might condense the rules to account for where you’re playing and how many players you have, but it’s always just fairly standard baseball; you either play pitch, run, hit, or you just endlessly bat like you’re in the cages. You could add Pitch ‘n’ Toss in there, but if you’re playing baseball, you’re either playing baseball the regular way, just batting, or just pitching. Football is much more open. You can change the rules in football and still have it recognisably be football, and that’s before you bring in games like Worldy, Head ‘n’ Vols, Crosses, Head Tennis, or the Crossbar Challenge. I’m sure die-hard baseball fans can rattle off a few equivalent examples, but football has a wider roster of games to riff off in a new Mario Strikers title.

Of course, I’d still love a Sluggers game too, and the obvious argument there is the use of motion controls. I’m sure they could be wedged into Strikers too, but just like in Golf and Tennis Aces, motion controls naturally slot into Sluggers. Although I’d personally lean towards Strikers, there’s more chance I’d be able to convince my mates to play Sluggers where the controls are just ‘swing the bat to bat’ instead of ‘push R to sprint, hold ZR for the rabona, L+A for the finesse shot, X for the through… hey where are you going? Come back!’

All that said, I think a completely new sport might be a solid direction to head in too. If it were up to me, I’d spend Nintendo’s budget on producing at least one Mario sports title a year, so I don’t mind advocating for several of them. The Mario & Sonic Olympics game is pretty decent, but the football event is bare bones enough to make me wary of Strikers, even if I’m sure a full Strikers game would get more love and attention. Obviously a lot of events in the Olympics game are there specifically for the Olympics – they’re never going to make Mario Sprinters, where it’s just the 100m over and over again. Even I have my limits when it comes to sports games.

However, while the football was a bit naff, the rugby was surprisingly good. While rugby is similar to baseball in that it has more arcane rules than football, it’s much more dynamic, and can be turned into an arcade version of itself far easier, especially the rugby sevens version of the sport featured in the Olympics game. I doubt a rugby game would sell all that well, of course, which means it would probably be changed to American Football, and would probably just be called Mario Football, which… ugh. I’m all for giving Chargin’ Chuck more spotlight though, so I can just about stomach the name.

If there was any chance whatsoever the concept would fly in America or Japan, I’d even suggest Mario Cricket would be a good fit, but unfortunately, I can’t see it happening. Pretty much every ball sport out there can be Mario-ised in some way or another, and whether the next Mario sports title is a completely new one or the continuation of an established series, all I know is I want it right now. Mario Golf came out hours ago, so where’s the next one? Don’t keep me waiting, Mario.

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