Game, Set, Mario
Tennis is a sport that is popular and known all around the world. Fans love watching their favorite players hit that greenish yellow and white ball back and forth and back and forth in a seemingly endless rally. However, tennis hasn't reached baseball, football, or basketball levels of popularity in the United States. It is a watched sport that many adore here, though, on this side of the world. Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom cohorts are once again stepping onto the court in the first handheld Mario Tennis title since Mario Tennis: Power Tour. While the RPG mode that the portable offerings are most known for has been omitted from this installment, it has been replaced by a series first, online play. Does online and the game's other features make Mario Tennis Open serve up an ace or get unlucky and get a double fault?
There are two main draws to the single-player content of Mario Tennis Open-- Tournament and the Special Games (more on the latter later). Tournament mode is no stranger to veterans of any sort of tennis game. Instead of the traditional three tournaments of past Mario Tennis titles, players must fight through the ranks of four individual, progressively more difficult tourneys. When you beat the final match of the Champions Cup, you unlock not only four more tournaments but you receive a star for the character your completed the Champions Cup with, giving them greater abilities. Tournament mode can be played in Singles or Doubles with a computer-controlled partner, though you can only get a star character through Singles play.
|When not being saved from being kidnapped,|
Peach enjoys a nice match of tennis with Mario.
|The courts feature no gimmicks this go around,|
but they do look very striking and lovely.
Regardless, the Special Games available are pretty good for the most part. The popular Ring Shot makes its glorious return, but there are three new games to accompany it like Super Mario Tennis. In this game you hit the ball against a wall that shows a side-scrolling 8-bit Super Mario Bros. level. Hitting coins and enemies gives you more time on the clock. The aim of the game is to reach the flagpole before all three of tennis balls have been lost. The aforementioned Galaxy Rally has you rallying shots with a Luma. The goal is to successfully reach a certain number of rallies while avoiding the pits that house a giant black hole which will gobble up your errant balls. You only get three balls to work with, so make them count. Lastly, Ink Showdown has three Piranha Plants firing out tennis balls for you to return. However, there is a character on the other side who wishes to hit them back. If you get the required amount of balls past this character, you win. Making this more challenging is that sometimes a Piranha Plant will shoot out a ball of ink. Not eliminating this threat immediately will cover 75% of the screen with ink. Like I said, coins can only be earned through these four games which is idiotic to me.
|Super Mario Tennis might be the best |
Special Game in the (small) bunch.
As for the actual gameplay online, tennis games demand pinpoint accuracy and quick reflexes. When the game lags ever-so-slightly, that throws a wrench into the equation and makes returning high strength, high speed serves a crap shoot. Also, I wish there were two modes for random matches: one for overpowered Mii characters and one for the traditional Mario characters. As it is, most players online go with their Mii which makes the Mario all-stars essentially irrelevant. Thankfully, online play isn't something that really appeals to me. I've always been a local type of player, but keep these flaws in mind if online play excites you. Nintendo has shown that they are open to patches, so it's anyone's guess if such changes to the online could (and should) happen.
Mario Power Tennis featured power shots that some argued ruined the pace of matches. Those have been disposed of and in their place are Chance Shots. Chance Shots occur depending on how the ball is hit by your opponent. If you dive for a ball and hit it with the tip of your racket, generally your opponent will get the opportunity for a devastating smash to drill the ball down your side of the court's throat. There are five types of Chance Shots: red, blue, purple, yellow, and white. Red Chance Shots allow you to strike the ball with a powerful topspin. For power characters, a fully charged red Chance Shot can send their opponent pushed backwards from the sheer force of the shot. Blue Chance Shots defy the laws of physics completely with a crazy horizontally arced slice shot. These curve in such a ridiculous fashion that they can trip up even the most professional player. (They also twirl the player who hits the return around like a tornado.) Meanwhile, purple Chance Shots offer the opportunity to hit a stunning flat shot which has the highest velocity of any other shot. Then there's the yellow Chance Shot which when hit lobs the ball to the back of the court, great for those adversaries who play close to the net. Finally and conversely from lob shots, white Chance Shots deal out a drop shot which falls up close and near the net.
|Flat shots dish out the most speed|
out of any other type of shot.
Mario Tennis Open offers control options for beginning players as well as people more comfortable with the game and series. During play, the touch screen can be used instead of the buttons to choose the various types of color-coded shots with a tap of a finger. Neophytes can also hold the 3DS up vertically to enter the dynamic view where the camera is directly behind the player, their character moves to the ball automatically, and all that is needed is shot input from the player. Dynamic view can be turned off completely via the Options menu in the Clubhouse. While the dynamic view is nice, it is no substitution against a pro player.
|The new dynamic view offers |
a shift in perspective.
| Just out of Wario's reach.|
Maybe he should stick to his garlic diet.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]