Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is Nintendo's latest Mario Sports offering for its DS handheld console and the first in a long time to team up with games developer Square who is normally responsible for the epic Final Fantasy series. So does it work?

With hoops being in the title you would expect the game to be based around basketball and while the action takes place on a basketball court the main aim of the game isn't to score as many baskets as you can.

The game instead is based around collecting coins to add to your overall score. These coins can be collected by dribbling over the iconic question mark boxes found in most Mario games and then as long as you score before the other team or the time runs out, those coins are added to your score.

With such a focus on collecting coins it really tilts the game from getting those baskets to dribbling around the court and so fans of basketball should be wary that they might be disappointed.

Get past the rules and the game is split into a number of areas including tournaments, exhibition mode and matchup, which allows you to play with another console or via the download play area.

All the usual characters are present from the off including in the first batch Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Wario, Waluigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Bowser Jr. while a further 11 characters including five from Final Fantasy don't appear until much later in the game.

Controls are either via the touchscreen or the a, b, x, y buttons and there is a hefty tutorial to run you through all the possible moves.

Verdict

With plenty of characters all with their own characteristics Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is great fun, however those expecting "Mario does basketball" will be disappointed.

The game's focus on collecting coins rather than scoring baskets does mean that you spend most of the time roaming around the court and it's very easy to win games scoring only a handful of baskets but collecting coins.

Good clean Mario fun, however not a patch on previous Mario incarnations on the DS.