Published on May 25th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Mario Tennis Open Review
Developer: Nintendo/Camelot Co., Ltd.
Price: US 39.99
Release Date: May 20, 2012
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Tennis as a video game always has a two sided task at hand. On one side, the developer has got to ensure that most of the things that make tennis authentic stay within the boundaries of the game. The other side of the task is making the game as interesting and fun as possible for non-tennis enthusiasts to pick up and play. Even for a game featuring an icon like Mario and Co., the task is still the same.
Mario Tennis Open revisits the sport on the handheld console. The game features a rather large bracket of tournaments, multiplayer (both local and online via the Nintendo Network), mini games, and a slew of unlockables throughout the completion of each.
In the single player tournament bracket alone there are a variety of tournaments to volley through. The World Open hosts the Mushroom, Flower, Banana and Champions Cup. After completing these, the second arena, the Star Open, brings on more competition with the 1-Up, Ice Flower, Shell and Final Cup.
Outside of the tournaments players can jump into a doubles match or right into an exhibition game. Playing through the tournament modes will unlock ‘Pro’ and ‘Ace’ difficulties. This allows players to further challenge their skills in the game and unlock more items.
At the completion of each tournament there are a variety of clubhouse items for purchase. These unlockables come in the form of rackets, outfits, sweatbands, and shoes. Mixing these variations will increase your Power, Spin, or Move—not to mention they are pretty sweet duds. The Bullet Bill outfit and racket pair up for to look super clean and mean on the court. Threads aren’t everything, though.
The controls of the game are probably one of the most unique, yet confusing, things about Mario Tennis Open. I’ve got to admit; at first I hated them. The touch screen had me looking away from the screen to see what button I was hitting and the button combinations always throw me off after getting used to another controllers layout. They fall somewhere along the lines of what we saw from Kid Icarus: Uprising, being that the game could be played with multiple layouts. After playing through the game and changing schemes a few times, I knew that I did in fact hate them.
One option is to lay the console flat and play with a top down view. In this mode the 3D can be turned on and use both the physical buttons and the circle pad or select which set of touch buttons you will use with the circle pad. Similar to what we saw in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the console can be held in your left hand and controlled on screen with the stylus or your fingers with your right. Though, it is even clumsy to reach all of the touch buttons. The three button panel can be inverted to play from either side. Even the three panel screen leaves you reaching across the touch pad and puts the top screen out of stereoscopic range.
The ‘L’ and ‘R’ buttons are used to sprint to a ball out of reach. After toying with the controls and gyro I had finally found a mode that somewhat fit.
Having the console into the close up over the shoulder view, it was a bit easier to maintain volleys and serves. The six different types of shots were easy to reach with two hands–but the movement of circle pad is neglected. The shots are aimed by pointing the camera in the direction you want to hit. The touch only controls give the game more of an arcade feel and host similarities to Wii tennis. Unlike Wii tennis, there are more modes and game in general.
The mini games allow players to earn coins to use in the Clubhouse. These ‘Special Games’ include Ring Shot, where players must hit balls through rings and score points, to games like Super Mario Tennis, which give players the chance to advance through the original Super Mario Bros. in a side scrolling tennis matchup. Hit pipes for warp zones, Goomba’s for coins, and even bash question blocks for coins. Even though this section is interesting it’s not as fun and easy as it sounds. Sporadic and uncontrollable ball movements make it tough to progress the level and wasn’t as good as the concept sounded.
This was the case with the majority of the game. That feeling of pizazz and Nintendo flare seemed to be missing. Even playing various characters from the Nintendo universe didn’t feel as fun as titles like Mario Power Tennis. I was expecting to see character specific moves and attributes, which simply never made it to game day. I never got that nasally “Warluigi!” I was hoping for.
One of the best parts about the game came down to the multiplayer. If anything in this title worked right it was this. Jump onto the online multiplayer and head out to the leaderboards to rank up. Players can participate in quick matches, or lengthy sets. Most connections were fairly lag free and found matches fairly quickly. Players can also pick up new challengers through the StreetPass mode, bringing other Mii’s on to your console to take on during mini games.
Mario Tennis Open has a great multiplayer and unlockables that gives support in the shape of content. There are plenty of characters to choose from and your Mii character can be used throughout the tournaments and online modes.
Although there plenty options within the game, it does lack that certain Nintendo flare that fans are used to seeing. The controls are nothing short of clumsy. The touch controls do offer a great second scheme, but does make it feel more like an arcade version of the game by neglecting the use of the circle pad with this option.
Mario Tennis Open faulted once with the controls. They managed the double fault by not having Nintendo character attributes and flare which makes playing tennis on a Nintendo console worthwhile.
[xrr label=”Rating: 6.75/10″ rating=6.75/10]
+ Multiplayer (local and online)
+/– Mini Games
– Missing Nintendo charisma