Mario Tennis Open is the latest game in the long-running tennis series by Camelot. People who have enjoyed the series in the past should know exactly what to expect here in terms of the game’s presentation. All of the iconic Mario characters are present, the courts have a great amount of variety, and there is something to be said about the inherent polish of Camelot’s titles. But does this entry live up to the great games of the series’ past?
For the single player portion of the game, there are three main game types to choose from: Tournament Play, Exhibition, and Special Games (which are mini games). With Tournament and Exhibition we get the main type of game play: actual tennis matches. The game play is essentially the same as the other entries in the series, with one noticeable difference. While you are playing, if momentum swings your way, various icons will appear on the court that correspond to a specific special shot that are performed by pressing a specific button or buttons. Utilizing these special shots are certainly fun to use at first, but over time it feels as though these shots alone become the essential way to beat your opponent. The game begins to feel less about outsmarting your opponent with well placed shots and more about relying on the special shots to push bend to break until your opponent finally loses the point. As a result, getting points and winning matches feels less rewarding than it should. That being said, it is nice to be rewarded for gaining initial momentum, although I feel as though the game would have benefited from a more subdued utilization of the special shots.
Special shots are a huge focus in Mario Tennis Open
The difficulty gradient for AI in this game is something that never feels on the mark. Maybe it’s just me, but this was one of those games where the beginner, easy, and normal difficulty computers for the most part all felt too easy and predictable, resulting in blow out wins on my part. While on the other end of the spectrum, the highest difficulty AI seem to be able to predict your every move before you even take a shot, resulting in glorious defeat. That being said, with 5 difficulty levels there should be one that comes close to what you’re comfortable playing at. For me, Pro (the second highest difficulty) comes closest, but I still end up winning most of the time.
Playing doubles with a computer is one aspect that can be as fun as it is frustrating. While the matches do have their moments of intensity and excitement, such as long rallies where the momentum sways from team-to-team, I still noticed some problems that arose in this mode. Unfortunately, the computer on your team often seems to miss golden opportunities to utilize special shots that could have easily led to a point with your team. Noticing these missed opportunities creates frustration because you know you could have easily made that shot given the chance. Another strange thing I noticed was that the computers on the other team rarely ever hit the ball towards you, except when the opportunity arises to take advantage of a mistake in positioning you may have made. I found myself watching the computers play more than I played myself, and it made me feel disconnected from the experience of the game as such. Nonetheless, doubles play can be fun in its shining moments.
There are four mini games included with the package, and each of them offer a unique twist to the game of tennis that both work as fun distractions if you don’t have enough time to play a full match as well as a good platform to hone your skills for the regular matches. My favorite of the four was Galaxy Rally, which tests both your accuracy and ability to think and react quickly: that being said, they all provide some sort of charm and replay value due to the progression of challenge through them. However, the novelty of Super Mario Tennis, a mini game which allows you to progress through levels of Super Mario Bros by hitting a ball against a screen of the game, will probably be what most people will gravitate towards.
A unique mini game that should provide some fun and novelty
Throughout the game you are able to unlock various characters as well as items (such as rackets and outfits) that you can equip to your Mii character for when you use him or her throughout the game. Unlockable characters give the player incentive to continue playing single player, which gives the game some nice replay value. The unlockable items, on the other hand, for the most part feel completely useless. There is a staggering amount of items to unlock and buy to upgrade you Mii, but thinking of these as upgrades feels misleading. In my experience, I did not notice any difference in how my Mii played on the court with any of the upgrades I acquired. Apart from the aesthetic appeal of customizing your character the way you want to, these items do not feel as though they add anything to the game experience, which they certainly could have by giving the upgrades some sort of substantial impact.
The overall presentation of Mario Tennis Open is one aspect that gets it right in almost every regard. The character models and courts all look great and the visuals are some of the best the 3DS has to offer. Speaking of the courts, there are a good number to choose from and each of them has their own unique aesthetic style and game feel, giving the game a good sense of variety and challenge. Menus are easy enough to navigate and you are able to navigate them with either the touch screen or d-pad/circle-pad, which is a plus. There is really nothing bad to be said about the controls either, as everything feels tight, responsive, and polished. The music in the game is also very impressive throughout. Camelot is known for their strong musical compositions, most notably in their RPG series Golden Sun, so this should come as no surprise. These various parts form the whole of the game that feels well thought out and constructed, and this is one of the shining points of the game.
Character and court designs are visually impressive
Of course it couldn’t be a Mario sports game review without a discussion about the multi-player. And as is normal with most of the games in this genre (ala Mario Kart, Mario Golf), Mario Tennis Open feels at its best when you are playing with a friend. As mentioned before, the AI difficulties may feel unbalanced and predictable to some players, so as a result playing the game with another human feels the most organic and genuine. The game allows you to play multi-player with friends in local matches within the same area, or even online through your 3DS friends list, giving those with friends who have the game reply value as long as the interest in playing is consistent. Even if you don’t know anyone who owns the game, you also have the option to play the game online with people around the world through the Nintendo Network. While this may not be as fun or enjoyable as playing it with someone you know personally, it still offers a rewarding experience and keeps track of your monthly leaderboard, though the matchmaking does not always feel quite right in terms of skill differential. The multi-player option of Open is what will likely determine the longevity and replay value of the experience for most players.
Overall, Mario Tennis Open is a solid addition to the Mario Tennis series, and is one you should likely pick up if you are a fan of the previous entries in the franchise. I feel as though Camelot could have been a little more ambitious and given the game proper RPG elements, like the had in the Mario Golf handheld games, such as potentially a leveling system but mostly to make it feel as though the “upgrades” we were getting actually had bearing on how the game played, or gone the exact opposite route and left them out entirely. I also thought that the special shots, while cool and aesthetically fun to look at, were focused on too much and could have been scaled back to make room for a more balanced, skilled game play. Though if you can look around these flaws, the game does have a distinct charm and game feel, as well as incentives to keep playing with character unlocks, tournament play, and mini games. Though of course, as I have mentioned, the game should be played multi-player for the best experience. Play ball.
This is from another Nintendo Direct. Apparently, their older 3DS titles (such as Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Ocarina of Time 3D and Mario Tennis Open will be heading to the eShop soon and will be able to be bought digitally like New Super Mario Bros 2. The eight titles announced for this treatment first are:
Super Mario 3D Land
Mario Kart 7
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D
Mario Tennis Open
Star Fox 64 3D
Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
The 3D Encyclopedia of Flora an Fauna
You can watch the announcement here:
I have to wonder about their choices though. Where’s Kid Icarus Uprising and why isn’t that being made available via digital distribution? And who the hell wants a 3D encyclopedia of plant and animal life on the eShop more than actual games?
Still, if you missed out on classics like Mario Kart 7, Ocarina of Time 3D and Super Mario 3D Land, here’s your perfect chance to make up for it and get them online!
Well, we all knew this would be coming, that someone online would decide to upload all the QR codes as they’re released to let us unfortunate souls not living near one of Nintendo’s HQs actually get the different coloured Yoshis as playable ‘characters’. So here are some QR codes.
First up, the codes for Black Yoshi and White Yoshi, for the PAL version of the game. Just scan these in and you should be set:
And for those of us in the US, here’s the code to unlock Pink Yoshi, thanks to GameExplain and their new video. Just scan it from the video:
And yes, fear the worst everyone, Nintendo has freaking region locked the QR code unlockables! So do you want to unlock a certain costume or character? Better hope Nintendo have made an event where it’s being released, and someone has decided to go to the event, photograph the codes and upload them to the internet, since the codes for other regions won’t work on your copy of the game…
But these codes above should save a bit of aggravation, and mean you won’t have to go to some crappy Nintendo event at a store miles away from where you live in the foreseeable future. Guess that’s one good thing about the whole system, you can at least scan the code someone else uploaded online.
Oh, and I bet you people anything that Nintendo uses exactly this system for the sixth generation of Pokemon and the various event only legendaries/alternate formes.
If interesting is the right word to describe disturbingly edited tennis balls giving their commentary on the game modes in Mario Tennis Open. No, I didn’t make that bit up, they’ve got tennis balls with glasses and eyepatches discussing Mario Tennis.
Have Nintendo been on something recently? Did Nintendo of America suddenly decide to follow Japan’s lead in making extremely strange commercials and promo videos? Either way, you can see the videos below:
Here’s hoping these videos aren’t played on TV, I don’t think my sanity could take it. Nor could any normal person’s image of Nintendo fans when you think about it, the videos look about as embarassing as the commercials released for Super Mario Sunshine which had kids singing about cleaning up the environment…
What do you think of these special ‘report’ videos Nintendo are releasing?
It’s a launch trailer for Mario Tennis Open, in case you’re still undecided about buying the game and need some more persuasion from Nintendo and their marketing team. However, given how much most people here tend to like the Mario sports games and how quite a few regular visitors have bought this game quite a while ago, there’s not much to do other than enjoy the video and congratulate yourself on how you bought a Mario game before the general public did.
Here’s the trailer:
It’s a good game though, although maybe a bit lacking in options and game modes compared to the likes of Mario Power Tennis.
Still, there’s a trailer for the game, go out and buy it if you like Mario spinoffs, etc.
Sorry people on Nintendo 3DS Community who thought that Rosalina might be a new character for Mario Tennis Open, Nintendo has officially come out and said otherwise. From their recent press release:
Track down the playable Yoshis by finding the Mario Tennis Open QR codes
a massive Yoshi hunt will soon become available ahead of the upcoming Mario Tennis Open launch on 25th May. The hunt, entitled The Yoshi Chase, will involve tracking down a series of different-coloured Yoshis, playable in Mario Tennis Open, through corresponding QR codes released over the coming weeks through various channels.
Looks like the QR code characters are all a bunch of different coloured Yoshis unfortunately. Of course, they couldn’t make these QR codes easy to find, oh no:
the Black Yoshi will be distributed first exclusively through 30 Asda stores on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May, between the hours of 9.30AM and 5.30PM
Oh joy, it’s like the days of Pokemon again, where you had to trawl all through the local game stores and hope the one near you was giving out Mew/Celebi/Deoxys. Considering they mention Asda specifically, that makes it even worse because in the UK they don’t have any kind of monopoly in their market, they’re only one of about five major brands of supermarket. It’s extremely common to have a town without a single one of their stores in it, making this method of promotion nearly worthless.
And yes, it’s just Yoshi:
White, Blue and Red Yoshi will follow at a later date.
Hooray for complete unoriginality!
Have Nintendo come up with a worse set of unlockable characters than the ones in Mario Kart 7? I think they may just well have. Still, at least this is merely QR codes, something you can at least share on the internet. Useful for the large majority of us in the UK who don’t feel like going to a supermarket they never buy anything from for a stupid Nintendo promotion.
Still, sorry people, looks like the secret characters in Mario Tennis Open really are just a bunch of different coloured Yoshis.
It’s almost like a bunch of boss style remixes of well known Mario music! No seriously, Princess Peach’s Castle theme from Super Mario 64 can actually be made into an epic piece of music that would work well in an boss battle? Apparently so:
Above: If Peach was ever more of an action hero, this would be her theme tune.
That theme is awesome. No seriously, it’s like if Rare remixed the Princess Peach’s Castle theme for a boss battle against an evil version of Peach in the Super Mario 64 castle’s foyer. It’s also not the first time Mario Tennis have done what seem to be boss remixes of classic Mario themes, the Luigi’s Mansion remix in Mario Power Tennis sounds like the kind of thing you’d hear at a tribal human sacrifice event:
Above: The party’s getting started at Luigi’s Mansion!
As for the remixes they played in light hearted levels like Delfino Plaza or Peach’s Castle, well, they sounded more like a live TV dance off for the finale of the Mushroom Kingdom flamenco dancing competition:
Above: Sounds like the kind of theme they’d use after Wario Land Shake It’s Launchpad Labyrinth in DDR Mario Mix Spanish Edition…
But Peach’s Castle court’s music in Mario Tennis Open isn’t the only fantastic theme that exists. No, you’ve also got the obligatory ‘badass’ Bowser’s Castle court theme. Sounds like a remix of the castle theme in Super Mario 3D Land, although it’s kind of hard to tell given how over the top the song is.
Above: Does this sound like some weird mutant hybrid of Bowser’s battle theme in Mario 64 and the castle theme in Mario 3D Land to anyone else?
Finally, there’s the Donkey Kong Country Returns remix used for the DK Jungle court. It sounds like someone’s taken Jungle Hijinx and turned it up to eleven.
Above: If this was the theme used for DK’s final smash in the next Super Smash Bros, I wouldn’t mind the stupid bongo playing gimmick.
All in all, even if Mario Tennis Open isn’t exactly the greatest Mario sports game ever made, it at least has a fantastic soundtrack to boast about. Hopefully some of these themes will get remixed even further then orchestrated for Super Smash Bros 4, right?
Recorded directly from the Japanese official site, hence the video player bar that can be seen along the bottom:
It’s mainly a compilation of all the video footage spread out across the official website (albeit compiled by Nintendo and added to the about page), so it doesn’t really seem to contain that much new information.
However, there is some indication that Koopa may be a playable character in this, since at least one Mii costume option seems to be based off of him (and assuming most of the costumes are based on playable characters, it makes sense to assume the real one may be an unlockable character)
Yes we know that we’ve seen pictures of a Luma as a playable character in Galaxy Tennis (and to some people, that was apparently enough proof in itself), but with the latest batch of Mario Tennis Open screenshots, you can now see proof that he’s playable in all normal modes/normal courts too.
Voila, Dry Bowser and Luma in one screenshot, on Bowser’s Castle court. Evidence enough of both being secret characters for sure.
There are other screens though.
Sorry, but something still bugs me about the Yoshi costume, it just looks too ridiculous.
Information about Miis and the various StreetPass options. Maybe this has some use in Japan or one of those American cities where people are both living close enough together to encounter other gamers and stupid enough they carry expensive electronic equipment around with them everywhere, but I doubt most people will get any use out of it all.
Dry Bowser and Luma playing tennis again.
Have to ask something here… what the hell do game designers like about making things pass through rings? It’s basically become a video game cliche by now…
Now this is an interesting mode. It’s not quite platforming with tennis skills like I initially thought, but it’s certainly a unique way to play Super Mario Bros 1, don’t you think? Wonder if anyone’s going to attempt to create a real life version, since a toned down one seems within the realm of possibility…
Nintendo really likes ink being sprayed on the camera in modern games. Probably because it lets them show off their precious 3D.
Also, what’s the icon on the bottom left? Does that mean the person playing is doing terrible and has already lost two ‘lives’ or something of the sort?
Miis and Donkey Kong. Personally, I hope Donkey Kong wins, Miis are overrated anyway.
So that’s some new Mario Tennis screenshots, which look pretty nice. What do you think of the new screens of this game?