Mario Tennis Open Review (3DS)

May 28, 2012

3DS, Reviews

Mario Tennis Open is a Mario sports title for the Nintendo 3DS. It was developed by Camelot and published by Nintendo.

Gameplay: 4/5

Mario Tennis is a game with a special place in my childhood. Honestly, I must have spent days playing the hell out of Mario Tennis 64 with friends and family members. It goes without saying that the idea of a Mario Tennis game on the 3DS was nothing short of appealing. Camelot’s developed the gameplay quite well. It’s a sweet blend of skill and strategy that leaves the luck factor that is present in many of Nintendo’s other spin-off multiplayer titles out of the equation.

Mario Tennis Open plays much more similarly to Mario Tennis 64 than Power Tennis. This is a large improvement given the exclusion of the Power moves from the latter game. Instead, there are now “Trick” shots that you can use with the pressing of the X button when you stand on a symbol that sometimes appears after your opponent hits the ball. This will, depending on the color, change the ball into a curve shot, a high shot, a low shot and others. This keeps the action fast paced and the strategy flowing. Do I want to lob the ball over my opponents’ heads or do I want to spike it past them?

There are also some fun challenges you can try out such as the classic “Rings” minigame from previous versions and the newer “Super Mario Tennis” minigame where you play some of the original NES classic but in tennis form. Accomplishing any of these will earn you unlockables that you can buy from an in-game store for your Mii. These power-ups will actually provide you stats that can eventually make you more well-rounded than any of the primary Mario cast, all of whom are not customizable. Some may see this as an issue because Mario Kart offered customizability, but I personally like that their stats are fixed and that only the Mii is customizable. Trying to give Bowser upgrades to increase his speed when he’s primarily meant for power seems like overkill to me.

There’s something that Mario Tennis Open certainly achieves and it is balance. Every player has a chance to beat their opponent, no matter who it is. The upgrades will provide small boosts but only so much. It’s limited to say the least, but it works.

As far as control options go, Camelot has added itself to a list of developers I praise for taking advantage of the 3DS’ multitude of control options. You can either use the practical face buttons or you can use the “touch screen” buttons. Each one is color coded and sized very well so that getting used to said method is a breeze. The only control method I would not recommend is the “gyro control” method. It’s a cute idea, but trying to play the game by moving the entire system when there’s no way to keep the 3DS’ screen stationary is downright annoying. It’s largely the the only problem I had with the controls.

Graphics: 5/5

I was surprised to see the graphics in this game look as good as they do, even with 3D being used. The models in this game are very high in quality. Much of the game’s overall design seems to come from Mario Galaxy’s engine. Any longstanding Mario fan will be pleased to see that the cast still all have their fingers (refer to Mario Kart Wii if you don’t know what I mean). Every court in the game is inspired by a place in the Mushroom Kingdom. Everything is bright and colorful and looks very nice. I don’t know what’s more impressive; the fact that the graphics are much finer than most of the Wii’s software lineup or that they were able to achieve it with 3D in mind.

Sound: 4/5

Outside of the main theme, the soundtrack is mostly just happy orchestral and energetic rock tunes. Nothing bad at all, but nothing particularly special either. There’s nothing here that you’ll be humming to next week, but it fits the world and helps you stay in the mood when playing.

The sound effects are standard. Chimes for characters when they taunt, the rackets hitting the ball make the appropriate noise and all of the characters have their cute voices. One thing I’d like to note is (and this is not a flaw by any means) but if you thought the Miis sounded strange in Mario Kart 7, you’re going to raise an eyebrow at their voices in this game. It’s awkward and amusing to go from cute Yoshi-like squeaky voices to regular human voices. Overall, the character voices may annoy older gamers, but Mario fans will be pleased.

Replayability: 3/5

Sadly, the modes are short-lived overall and there is not a great deal of them to begin with. Outside of the addition of online multiplayer, there really isn’t much here to keep the player hooked for very long. The online multiplayer is still a major upgrade for the Mario Tennis franchise however. I am pleased to say that I have had next to no issues connecting with others (aside from rage quitters). Like with Mario Kart 7, Mario Tennis Open gives you a set number which will rise and fall with your wins and victories. This number serves as your rank. This alone will probably keep pros hooked. Anyone else will probably enjoy this with friends for a while, then move on to something else.

Overall Score: 16/20 = 8.0 out of 10

Mario Tennis Open is limited for sure. However, this does not stop it from being an addicting and overall very fun multiplayer game with some tiny single player features. Whether you’re a Mario fan or simply looking for some online multiplayer action, then you have no reason to miss this game.

PROS:

+Fun and addicting gameplay

+Mii customizability

+Online multiplayer works well

+Pretty to look at

CONS:

-Lacking in single player modes

-Soundtrack is nothing special

-Gyro controls are awful

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