Mario Tennis Open

This Nintendo 3DS exclusive game takes full advantage of the console’s touch, Mii, and 3D capabilities in this latest installment in this action sports game series. It all began with the 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game titled Tennis. Now players can enjoy the seventh Mario-based tennis game, Mario Tennis Open.

So how does tennis Mario-style work on the Nintendo 3DS? The quick controls make it easy to pick up and play as the intricate shot variety requires strategic skills.

After setting up one of three profiles and a difficulty (novice, intermediate or experienced), players use the touch controls on the bottom screen with the buttons and circle control pad. Veterans can easily hit a grand slam on the button control schemes while inexperienced players can try the touch controls, so players can control character moves and shots or just the shots using the 3DS gyroscope capabilities, which requires a considerable learning curve. Players have more time to select shots using the latter control scheme.

The tennis shots – slices, lobs, drop shots, simple shots, flats and topspins – are assigned by button or on the bottom touch screen in color coded panels. For example red or the A button delivers a top-spin while yellow or A and B performs lob shots.

Character traits include defense, speed, technique, power, tricky, and all-around skills while player can customize their Miis as a base player for gameplay. For example, a power player like Bowser hits well, but moves slow, so cannot make a drop shot very well.

The environments have interesting properties concentrating on bounce and ball speed. For example, great bounces on stone courts and high speeds on carpet while slow on both on grass and sand.

The tight controls have great responses, so players benefit quickly by learning each action and special properties. Press R to quickly chase any out of reach shots from the circular graphics on the ground that gives players an estimated landing spot. Just get in the general vicinity for a successful return.

This game also has great handicaps for all skill levels. The challenges dip a little lower due to some light computer controlled AI, but players can always adjust the handicap. Then developers Camelot Software Planning ramp up the challenge with the Pro and Ace unlockable difficulties where the computer AI is very formidable.

When using the motion controls (3D optional) the game automatically moves characters into place – another nice advantage for “newbees”.  When the 3D is on, the game automatically switches it off when changing views.

The four special games offer fun variants while teaching players different tennis techniques like aiming, timing, ball control, and reaction time.

The Super Mario Tennis special game lets players hit balls at a playing game level on the wall then progress through earning coins and new characters. Ring shot has concentrated shots through hoops while Galaxy Rally tests accuracy.

Ink Showdown puts the plants on the court to disrupt the view and has a high challenge rating.

Players can branch into four modes (single, local multiplayer (co-op or competitive), online multiplayer, and StreetPass) or the clubhouse at the main menu. The single player mode has exhibitions, special games, and tournaments. The quick-fire style exhibition mode basically works like a practice mode while the special games also helps players get a firm footing.

The online multiplayer mode lets players play matches against friends or open matches with other players in a quick or extended mode. Regional leaderboards and non-existent lag also make the online experience a perfect match.

The elimination tournament mode has just the right timeframe as players win a maximum of three game for each tournament (eight total) in the single or double set. Players receive rewards if they win or lose. Players spend coins on gear from the store that enhances player skills. Unlockable items include arm bands, rackets, shoes, shirts and shorts.

Mario Tennis Open has great overall detail. The strong music features rock guitar, keyboards, and a few string instruments that make memorable melodies. Players also get left-handed options and entertaining character reactions as nice extras. Service with a smile…and some nice variety and constant challenge plus secret playable Yoshis.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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