Mario Tennis Open Review

From the outside, Mario Tennis Open looks to be no more than a simple revision of an already established sports series, but after an in-depth and expansive playthrough of the game, a highly enjoyable game is unraveled. The game features everything you would expect from a new entry in the Mario Tennis series. A list of new playable characters, a decent amount of new and exotic courts, and those special modes that put the Mushroom Kingdom right into the tennis world. While all this is great and dandy, the game falls a bit short in content, but stays strong through its simplicity.

At first glance, the game shows little improvement and innovation since the last entry in the series, Mario Power Tennis for the Nintendo GameCube. Taking a deeper look will reveal that while the game may not be bursting with content, it definitely takes the little it has and strengthens it. The gameplay has been vastly improved and is arguably the best the entire series has ever seen. Gone are the gimmicks of grand power-ups and wacky items, and in it’s place is the focus on actual tennis playing.

While the overpowered Power Shots may be gone, a new form of special shots is introduced, simply known as a Chance Shot. During a match, a Chance Shot will appear on your side of the court when your opponent performs a bad rebound. Standing over the highlighted space and performing the corresponding move will enhance and supercharge the shot. The Chance Shots add an interesting twist to the normal tennis gameplay, but at times it feels like a match is won because the player was able to get to the Chance Shots more often.

Outside of Chance Shots, the game offers a wide variety of moves that help keep the matches diverse and challenging. The inclusion of the touch controls was a awesome addition, helping newcomers to find and learn all the tennis moves. Without them, many players would skip the help screen and play through the game without knowledge of said moves. The added 3D effect is nice, but doesn’t do much to help the gameplay and can be left off. The new gyro feature that puts the camera angle behind the player is an interesting way to play the game, but most will revert back to the classic view as it is much easier to judge movements of the ball and the opponents.

After playing through the first few hours of the game, an unfortunate notion began to set in, one in which had me wondering what game I was going to play next. The game wasn’t capturing my attention, and I was ready to move on. Then I reached the championship game of the Ice Flower cup, the sixth tournament in the game. Each cup ramped up in difficulty, and I was able to make it all this way without much worry, but now I was stumped. Without further my eagerness, I went ahead and explored the Special Games mode.

In the Special Games mode, four different mini-games with varying difficulties are available to play through. Going in I thought these mini-games were there for some frantic fun and nothing more. To my surprise, each of the special mini-games concentrated on a particular skill that is needed to succeed in Mario Tennis Open, and all the mini-games force you to adapt in order to survive through the end. In Ink Showdown, the mini-game forced me to hit the ball in a direction away from the opponent, despite my tendency to hit the ball anywhere on the court. Galaxy Rally had me using different moves in order to hit the ball into certain sections of the court, introducing me to the proper way to lob a ball. The mini-games tremendously helped my performance in the actual matches, and they were easily the highlight of the game.

 

Having played through and completed the spacial games, I went back to try my shot at the Ice Flower cup. Without too many problems, I made it through the challenging match, thanks to the help of the special mini-games. Going through the last two tournaments was a delightful experience, and one that gave me a challenge that felt like genuine skill instead of luck. Once you are able to learn the ways of the game, there is an in-depth experience waiting for you to play.

Outside the Tournament, Exhibition, and Special Games modes, Mario Tennis Open does not offer much more. You have local multiplayer, as well as a simple StreetPass function. The online portion of the game is mediocore at best, with lag being a major issue as well as the restriction of playing against friends only in your region. Leaderboards are nice, but they are by no means enough. The lack of an RPG mode or a Story Mode, a staple in the handheld games, is disappointing and could have added to the replay value.

The addition of unlockable costumes and apparel is a huge incentive to continue playing through the game. Players can unlock and buy shirts, rackets, shoes, and wristbands, all of which can be worn on your playable Mii for better stats. Each piece of apparel adds to the Power, Spin, and Move stats, and if placed correctly, these can truly have an impact on the court.

Mario Tennis Open features an interesting assortment of playable characters. While some characters from the past are removed, we are treated to some interesting choices like Dry Bowser and Luma. Courts no longer contain major gimmicks, and the courts are gorgeous to view each time a match is played. Everything looks great and polished, and there is nothing to complain about in the graphics department. An amazing soundtrack accompanies the entire game, from the menu, to the courts, and to the credits themselves. To date, Mario Tennis Open has the best soundtrack in the entire series.

Looking at what Mario Tennis Open offers may discourage some to stay away. You get your standard amount of characters, courts, and your three simple modes. While the argument is understandable that the game is low on content, the game does deserve to stand alone as a new entry in the series. The content that is provided is very well done and opens up the possibility for some very enjoyable game time. This may not be the best game in the series, but it does remarkably well on the basic content that it has.

 

Presentation

Gameplay

Graphics/Sound

Replay Value



(7 out of 10)

15 Comments
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gameguy1996
gameguy1996
August 11, 2012 10:11 PM

Good review.You were right about everything that mario tennis open had.

j-man
j-man
August 12, 2012 3:54 AM

I would get this game…if I had a 3DS. :/

Manasword
Manasword
August 12, 2012 9:10 AM

I am getting disappointment again for Mario Tennis Open roster.
Dry Bowser is in it, Dry Bones is completely excluded (No mention or Mii item appearance). That’s new. SM3DL and others have both them.
Luma is playable, but Rosalina is completely excluded (Same with Dry Bones). WTF!?

j-man
j-man
August 12, 2012 10:20 AM
Reply to  Manasword

Then they should’ve parted with Luma and Dry Bowser and put…maybe…ah, I can’t think of any others. :/

Dry Bowser rules!
Dry Bowser rules!
November 17, 2012 10:14 PM
Reply to  j-man

D:

giu
giu
August 12, 2012 12:10 PM

Awesome review! I just dissagree with you about the 3D, for me the impact the 3D has on the game is incredibly good !! In the special Ring Shot game, the 3D is crucial, as well as in the Exhibition match.

Plum
Plum
August 12, 2012 6:18 PM

This is a reasonable score. Roster is good, Gameplay is great, the Miis are creative. Lacked on contend, but still a good game.

j-man
j-man
August 13, 2012 7:13 AM
Reply to  Plum

I guess thoughts change with time, huh?

Plum
Plum
August 13, 2012 8:44 AM
Reply to  j-man

Well there are things I hate about it, but when in comparison to other Mario games from recent it’s by far the best. The regular roster is fine, the unlockables are hardly worthy of being unlockable, but are still fine, and I don’t give a crap about the QR characters since I don’t even need to have them in my game. Yes Metal Mario sucks, but I don’t have to have him in my game. :/

Dry Bowser rules!
Dry Bowser rules!
August 20, 2012 12:50 AM
Reply to  Plum

Why does everyone hate Metal Mario? 🙁

Rosalina4President
Rosalina4President
October 22, 2012 5:07 PM

And why does no one love Honey Queen instead? 🙁

Polar
Polar
August 15, 2012 1:44 AM

I liked the review! Good job (I would of given it a lower score though :P)