That’s One Mean Backhand You’ve Got There! – Mario Tennis Open Review
This game was reviewed on Nintendo 3DS
Grab your racquet, tennis fans, because Mario Tennis Open is here and ready to play. Can the latest game in the famous Nintendo series hold its own on the court, or does it lose before it even sets foot in the stadium? Strap on your tennis shoes and let’s find out!
Mario Tennis Open plays like any standard tennis game, but with a few twists. For one, the title’s physics are not photorealistic, taking more of a cartoony approach, and special power-shots are available. On occasion, a coloured circle may appear on the ground which signifies a special shot can be used. Players need to stand in these circles and hit the ball with the appropriate shot in order for it to activate; effects can range from an extremely large curve on a slice hit, to very quick and tall lob. Both these special shots and that cartoon physics give the game a more casual feel that will be loved by young and old alike.
While players can play the traditional way, using the circle-pad and face buttons, the 3DS’ special features present another way to play. By turning on the gyro-sensor and holding the console vertically, the game’s view point will change to a more dynamic over-the-shoulder angle. In this position, players may tilt the system in different directions to point the camera, and their character automatically moves towards the ball, allowing the gamers to use the touch-screen to select which shot they make. While many players (especially returning fans) will find themselves ignoring this feature, it’s still a fun and interesting way to play – particularly if you’re a newer player
Gamers have access to a wide array of characters, from the standard returns like Mario and Yoshi (my personal favorite) to unlockable oddballs like Dry Bowser and Luma. If no one seems appealing, there is an option to play using your created Mii character. This avatar may even be customized via tennis gear with various stats to build your own play style. There is also an option to play left-handed, so any player who picks up the game should find the right style and appearance for them without much trouble.
Multiple game modes are available for players to swing at, featuring both single and multiplayer options. Should you wish to play alone, your first stop will probably be tournaments. Here, the player takes on a series of AI opponents in either singles or doubles events, all of which consist of three rounds. Win all three and the virtual trophy is yours. There are eight tournaments in total which increase in difficulty as your progress. Every one of them is fun, and gives the gamer something to work towards in place of a story mode.
Should something shorter sound more interesting, exhibition matches and mini-games may be the place to look. Gamers are able to play in a lone singles or doubles match, with different rules governing the round’s length. Four different AI levels are available, from a pushover opponent to a terrible challenge. This is a good place to practice with a new character or setup, or even against a rival you just can’t seem to beat.
For those looking for something different, four mini-games are available to further challenge your tennis skills. Each game gives you a goal, like shooting through rings or maintaining a rally, with four difficulties to shoot through for each event. If you succeed, then you’re awarded coins which can be redeemed for gear for your Mii.
If you’re seeking human interaction, both local and online multiplayer modes are available, though with limited options. Locally, players may take part in a two-four player exhibition match or mini-game, with only exhibitions available online. What limits the multiplayer experience is choice, as players are only able to choose between a short tie-breaker round (first to seven wins) and a small two-game, one-set match. While for online games a short round is understandable, some local gamers will want to play long and drawn out matches together, and they will be left wanting more.
A saving grace for online play is its monthly leaderboard. As gamers compete against each other, they gain points which affect their overall rating. The higher the score, the closer to the top you get with your overall position on display. This feature gives a tremendous amount of replayability, as gamers will battle for the top spot each month.
Graphically, MTO actually holds its own quite well and is very nice to look at. Character models are crafted with a considerable amount of detail, and animation is very smooth. Tennis courts in-game are very varied, from standard looking clay-floor arenas to lavishly carpeted castle interiors, and even wooden jungle platforms. Every piece of the title is also free of any texture-pop or frame-rate losses, making the game one of the best looking 3DS titles out there.
In terms of audio, MTO leaves a bit to be desired. Sound effects are your usual Mario game fare, with the sparkly shine of stars, metallic chime of coins, and light commentary from characters. The title’s soundtrack consists of up-beat orchestral tunes with rock-styled drumming and occasional guitar riffs. Overall, the entire audio experience feels uninspired, like a cut-and-paste from any previous Mario sports title.
When the referee yells, “Game, set, and match,” Mario Tennis Open is a definite winner. With very entertaining casual gameplay, a decent amount of game modes, and impressive visuals, this is a must have addition to your 3DS library, even if you’re not a tennis fan. You just may want to listen to something else while you play.
Final Score: 4.5 / 5.0 and aMushroomKingdomchampionship trophy.
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