Mario Tennis Open
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: May 24, 2012
Price: $39.99 – Available Here
Mario and friends have graced the Nintendo 3DS twice before (Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7) and do so once again with Mario Tennis Open. With this game it’s clear that Nintendo are looking at branching many of their big console franchises to the Nintendo 3DS. The Mario Tennis series has been a frequently solid outing for Mario and friends and it’s no different here. Nintendo are shaping the 3DS up to be the console that Nintendo fans need to own and Mario Tennis Open is just another feather in Nintendo’s cap for that. So how does the game weigh up with the other big hitters of the 3DS?
Mario Tennis Open is best compared to Mario Kart 7 in it’s approach. Nintendo took the foundations of the series and bent it to the structure of the 3DS. While that may mean some much loved features get given the boot it does make way for some new stuff to thrill fans. Although Mario Tennis Open does mark a significant change for the series there is no escaping the vibe of intense familiarity. This can be both a detriment and advantage for Mario Tennis Open.
It is an advantage because this familiarity allows players to be able to pick it up quite easily and play, but it also is a detriment due to the fact that one may grow tired quite quickly of the game. Thankfully I found it to be nothing but an advantage, the pick up and play type of gaming is perfectly tailored for Mario Tennis Open.
It’s not just hardcore gamers or series veterans who can pick this game up with ease, but also casual gamers will find the game an absolute breeze to get an understanding of thanks to a new play style implemented by Nintendo that many casual Wii gamers will find reminiscent of Wii Tennis. This style swap is easily what makes Mario Tennis Open one of Nintendo’s most player friendly game to date, anyone can play this. How it works is that there are two ways to play, either hold your 3DS upwards which will change your view and play style to that of a Wii Tennis-ish type of game play, not requiring players to move their character only to aim and hit the ball. On the flip side there is also the standard hardcore play style which is used by holding the 3DS flat. This style is simply the same as past games in the franchise with the whole top down view and full control of your character.
Other than that the game does generally play much like previous games, however it does take away the previously implemented ‘Power Shots’ (special ability shots unique to each character) and replaced it with a simple ‘Special Shots’ system in which circles appears on the court in which players can perform different ‘Special Shots’ out of. It does level the playing field a bit more and also makes sense when you consider the introduction of Miis to the series.
Much like Mario Kart 7 before it, Mario Tennis Open features Mii implementation which of course allows players to use their Mii avatar in the game. The most exciting part of using your Mii in the game is the deep customisation and skill system involved with them. Players can customise their Mii’s attire and skills which all have visible effect in the game (make your Mii faster or stronger etc.) and event take them online to compete against players across the globe.
The Multiplayer aspect of Mario Tennis Open is a bit of a mixed bag however, the online component still feels very early in it’s conception with a lack of variety in match types available to players. That is unless you play against your 3DS friends, which opens up a large amount of other options (unfortunately I could not play these for my review, because I have no friends). The open match option however which allows you to play against people across the globe, is really hit and miss. There is no balancing system, leaving players who are just starting out completely outmatched by players who have invested a lot more time in the game. It is a problem a lot of online games suffer, unfortunately Mario Tennis Open suffers this also. There is also an offline local multiplayer aspect which features the same amount of match types as ‘Friend vs Friend’ online matches, which is good to see. It’s a shame that the open matches online are such a mixed bag.
While the Multiplayer aspect is an odd hand, the Single player aspects are absolutely enthralling. The tournament mode, while lacking the visual pazazz and plot (sort of) of Mario Power Tennis, is still an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. It’s one of the only cases in gaming in which you feel as though you are getting better as you play, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Besides the tournament mode (which is the headline act as far as Single player goes in this game), there are some excellent other Single player options such as the straight up Exhibition match and the Special games (wacky mini games) which are all a joy to play.
All in all from top to bottom, Mario Tennis Open is about one thing – Fun. That’s a staple of Nintendo games and it’s something that this game wholeheartedly embodies.
Visuals and Audio:
Aesthetically Mario Tennis Open makes for some great eye candy, with it’s bright colours and iconic visual style of the Mario franchise, it does a great job at being as visually appealing as it is in it’s gameplay. The graphics are very crisp and the splashes of colour are nothing short of gleeful. It is just a very good looking game and one of the few games that looks just as good with the 3D filter on as it does with it off (something not many 3DS games can attest to).
Aurally the game features the expected Mario-esque tunes, very poppy, happy and energetic, never taking a break for some quiet. It’s got all the makings of a classic Mario soundtrack and succeeds with flying colours. It backs the visuals and gameplay perfectly and that is the best you can ask for from a game’s soundtrack at the end of the day.
From start to finish, Mario Tennis Open is a game made with love (see what I did there?). It’s evident that the game was nurtured and cared for in it’s creation and was built with an emphasis on fun and there is a lot of it to be had here. The game is yet another solid entry in the Mario Tennis series and another reason that the Nintendo 3DS is the hand held console to own. Mario Tennis Open is straight up a must buy for all Nintendo 3DS owners and proves to be game set and match for Nintendo.