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access_time June 2, 2012 at 1:19 AM in Reviews by Justin Weinblatt

Review | Mario Tennis Open

Throughout the years, we’ve seen tons of Mario sports games. Mario hit the golf green with Yoshi, he’s shot hoops with moogles, he’s played soccer with Bowser, he’s swung for the fences with Daisy, and much much more. Even with all of their breadth, Mario’s sports games can be divided into two main categories. On the one hand, we have games like Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64, which offer accessible yet straightforward sports experiences. On the other hand, we have games like Mario Super Sluggers which offer a far more chaotic experience packed with enemies, obstacles, and over the top superpowers. How much you enjoy Mario Tennis: Open, will depend on which type of Mario sports games you prefer.

Mario Tennis Open comes from the former school of Mario sports titles. Mario’s latest sports outing offers a great, but straightforward tennis experience. You won’t find bullet bills shooting across the stage, nor will you be threatened by a herd of Goombas. You’ll simply be hitting a little green ball across a court with a racket.

As you volley, you’ll have five shots at your disposal which can be selected through using the A, B, and Y buttons. Throughout the game, glowing circles will appear on certain parts of the court. These circles come in five colors, each corresponding with a particular type of shot. Standing on the right circle and using the right type of shot will activate a power shot. For example, standing on a blue circle and using a backspin shot will send the ball flying in a dynamic arc that defies the laws physics.

These power shots give Mario Tennis Open a unique rock paper scissors vibe. A powered backspin shot must be countered with a topspin shot, a powered topspin shot must be countered with a backspin shot, and so on.  These power shots add a unique flavor to Mario’s brand of tennis without feeling quite as disruptive as the over the top special shots from Mario Power Tennis.

The bulk of the single player experience comprises of a tournament mode where a player competes with the computer in a series of tournaments on a variety of courts, each with their own slight nuances. Players can choose to compete in singles or doubles matches. Winning tournaments will unlock new characters and new unlockable items. Those unlockable items are used to customize your Mii, which functions as a playable character. Unlock other characters, who have set attributes, your Mii can be powered up with the various equipment that you unlock and purchase throughout the game. This is a nice feature that helps beef up the game’s single player experience. This is fortunate, because the single player mode is otherwise sparse.

Aside from competing in tournaments and exhibition matches, the single player mode is filled out with four minigames. The minigames include volleying a ball through ring shaped targets, returning serves/ while being pelted with ink blobs, and “Galaxy Showdown” where you’ll attempt to keep a rally going while segments of the court randomly disappear.

The standout of the minigames is Super Mario Tennis. Super Mario Tennis is a bizarre hybrid of tennis and a shooting gallery set to redesigned levels from the original Super Mario Bros. As classic Mario levels scroll on a wall in front of you, you must use your tennis ball to hit Goombas, break blocks, activate warp pipes, and collect fire flowers. Super Mario Tennis is so amusing that it could have been made into its own game.

Last but not least, Mario Tennis Open features single card multiplayer, multi-card multiplayer, and online multiplayer. In a pleasant surprise, single card multiplayer has all of the features of multi-card multiplayer, including access to singles matches, competitive multiplayer, cooperative mutiplayer, and Super Mario Tennis.

The online multiplayer mode is thinner than local multiplayer. Your options here are limited to playing a one set match or a simplified first to 7 contest. Your overall success is measured with a score that will go up or down as you win or lose.  Winning a multiplayer match will also earn you a medal with your slain opponent’s face.  Online multiplayer is a fun, but barebones experience.

Mario Tennis attempts to make use of all of the 3DS’s features with varying degrees of success. The game allows you to control the camera with gyro controls, which isn’t particularly intuitive. Touch controls are also available, but once again not particularly intuitive. The game’s 3D effects did help me very slightly in pinpointing the location of the ball and other objects, but were otherwise unnoticeable. Streetpass allows you to play matches and minigames with a friend’s Mii.

Mario Tennis Open has an incredibly addictive tennis game at its core. Some gamers may prefer a more over the top style, but if you’re looking for a simple, accessible, and engaging tennis experience, look no further.  There is nothing quite like As long as you’re willing to overlook the somewhat below average amount of content, you’ll have a great time on the court.

Final Score: 3.8 out of 5


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