Mario Tennis Open Review

Title: Mario Tennis Open

System: Nintendo 3DS

Genre: Sports


Developer: Camelot

Fans of the Mario Sports genre will be happy to see Mario Tennis Open. It’s not Mario Hockey, and that would be awesome by the way, but is still fun and shows that creativity isn’t dying in the video game universe. Time to see if this venture into the Mario Tennis franchise scores an ace or gets beat 40-love. Strap in, it’s going to be a fun ride.

The first thing you notice when playing Mario Tennis Open is that the game throws you right into a tutorial mode but instead of teaching you everything you would ever need to know about the game, it teaches you the basics of the game, something the tutorial mode should do so it doesn’t feel like the game is spoon-feeding you the controls. The easy to pick up and play factor for Mario Tennis Open is similar to most of the Mario games these days. Nintendo wants anyone to be able to pick the game up and play it right away. The controls will always feel a little different when comparing them to the Game Cube version because with the 3DS, Nintendo/Camelot had to add the touch screen aspect to the controls. I’m glad the 3DS version doesn’t rely on special shots. Those were huge in the Game Cube version and it seems that Mario Tennis Open is trying to go into that “trying to be real but at the same time be fun.” Chance Shots are tougher shots for the opponent to return and are color coordinated so you know what shot to attempt. The control scheme can be kept simple or made a little bit more complicated by the number of shots the player puts on the touch screen and lets the player customize their playing surface.

Customization. Seems like more and more games are giving the player more and more. If it isn’t playing with a character that has their likeness, its being able to make their character their way. Mario Tennis Open is no different. You can customize your Mii character with different outfits and accessories to add to their Tennis playing. You can also buy different racquets that also add to the Tennis playing. The custom factor is very similar to the customizations of Mario Kart 7. You can basically change anything you could think of. You can even put your Mii in a costume of your favorite Mario character and play Tennis like that. Nintendo really wants each player who plays their games to have a different experience playing, something that adds to the game each and every time you play it. The 3D effects don’t feel thrown in for Mario Tennis. Some of you who read my reviews know I have been critical of early 3DS games when it comes to the 3D effects. I don’t have that feeling for Mario Tennis Open. Mid-match you can switch between 3D and non-3D, it just depends on how you’re holding the 3DS. Each mode has good points and bad. Dynamic mode has the character move by itself toward the ball and the only thing you have to worry about is deciding what shot to take and where to put it. Non-Dynamic mode, on the other hand, lets you see the whole court and makes it easier to make “kill shots,” shots that end up as aces and smash winners. You control every aspect of the character such as where to position him/her or where to shoot the ball. Just another way that Nintendo gives each player their own experience.

Mini-games. They are always a mainstay in most “fantasy” sport games and Mario Tennis Open has some pretty creative mini-games. It has Ring Shot, that has been a Mario Tennis regular for years. It also has two interesting mini-games. Super Mario Tennis has the player going through the Mushroom Kingdom, NES style, using a tennis ball as if it were Mario. Use the tennis ball to collect coins as well as smash bricks and goombas. Same as Mario One, you only have a certain amount of time to get through each level. I think it’s pretty cool when you collect the mushroom, the tennis ball grows and when you collect the fire flower, the tennis ball shoots fire balls. I would love to have been in the meeting when this concept was first pitched for the game. How long it takes to finish a level will determine how many coins you collect for buying things in the clubhouse. Another mini-game stars the Mario Galaxy universe and has the character collecting shards while avoiding the shifting platforms that move every time the ball hits them. Every miss has the ball falling into a black hole and three misses ends the game. To be good at this mini game, you need to be good at directing the ball and not relying on just picking the right shot. All the mini games pay out coins to customize your character.

Now, with every game there are good points and bad points. Personally, I feel Mario Tennis Open has more good points than bad points. Still there are some bad points that need to be mentioned. I found that the game very easily switched between screen modes. I should be able to set my screen options before the match and have it stay the whole time. That’s because of the Gyro sensor but this problem is very easy to remedy. I’ve seen online that people aren’t happy that Mario Tennis Open doesn’t have any RPG aspects to it, like earlier titles in the series did. Personally, I’m ok with this installment not having RPG aspects. If you think about it, being able to equip accessories to your character is RPG-like but I know that’s not what the people who are complaining want. At times the controls feel a little stiff and I felt I had issues being able to direct the ball where I wanted it to go. Online play. It’s great to see that Mario Tennis Open has online play. It’s a shame that in this day and age not all games have online play. Every game for the 3DS should have online play built into it and Mario Tennis has the ability to play your friends as well as random people. It doesn’t have nearly the online play that Mario Kart 7 does, but with Nintendo being late to the online party, I can live with what online aspects Mario Tennis has. I’m giving Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS an 8.5/10, a good game that just needed a little more to be great!

My Conclusion

Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS is the next installment in the Mario Tennis franchise. It goes the route of the Mario Kart series, where it adds several customization features that add to the gameplay. The game shows promise but at times hits a ball out of play. The mini games are a nice touch and gives the game that “it’s more than just a Tennis game” at times. Combine that with good-looking arenas and music that sounds great, Mario Tennis Open is a fun game that can be played by anyone. Online play dropped the ball a little bit but online play has never been Nintendo’s strongest point. Giving the player a fun experience is what Nintendo does best and that’s exactly what they did with Mario Tennis Open. I’m looking forward to what Nintendo does next for the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom. Can someone say Mario Football or Mario Ice Hockey, I know I can!

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