News Article

First Impressions: Mario Tennis Open

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Nintendo serves up another winner

The mustachioed plumber’s handheld tennis and golf outings have an RPG history able to trigger warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia in all who earned hand cramps from them at one point or another. Those feelings won’t be triggered by Mario Tennis Open on 3DS as it eschews levelling up solo in favour of multiplayer mayhem, but the potential for fun-induced hand cramps remains dangerously high.

In this way, Open is more of a missing link between the original Mario Tennis on N64 and GameCube’s Mario Power Tennis — it plays a relatively straightforward game of tennis by removing variables like items on the court or devastating Power Shots. In their place are two additional base shots and colour-coded rings on the court that correspond to a type of shot. The changes smooth out rallies and ultimately equalise match-ups in a way that rewards skill over luck, making Mario Tennis Open feel a lot more fair compared to Power Tennis.

Court rings are a particularly clever touch. For instance, a slice shot has a blue tail, and if a blue ring appears on the court and you slam off a slice inside it then the shot will have a bit of extra oomph to it. They pack a punch but aren’t automatic win buttons; advanced players will have no trouble fending them off, while also empowering novices with a show of strength. In case you forget which shot matches what colour, the bottom screen keeps such information accessible via colour-coded buttons.

Standard and expected exhibition and tournament modes are playable both offline against AI and in online or local multiplayer, which, judging by our PAX thwomping, should have no issue sucking away hours upon hours of court time. Open gets more fancy in its extra modes; the Super Mario Galaxy-themed Rally has you face off against a Luma on a court with disappearing segments, while Ink Showdown throws view-obscuring ink splatter a la Mario Kart 7. The most novel mode is a score-based one simply dubbed Super Mario Tennis: playing more like a game of racquetball, an optimised stage from the NES Super Mario Bros. scrolls on the wall and you pick up coins, go down pipes, bonk enemies and so forth by slamming them with the ball. Which is easier said than done as you’ll need to pull out the right shot at the right time to hit your target. In the interest of time we were only able to make it to World 1-2, so we look forward to seeing just how Nintendo adapted the rest of the 8-bit game to fit the new mode.

Coins are earned along the way, which are spent on buying gear to customise your Mii. More than just cosmetic enhancements, each racquet, sweatband, outfit or pair of shoes affects attributes on the court to a degree. Equipping Wario’s outfit boosts power at the expense of speed, which can be balanced out or underscored with other characters’ gear. It’s not exactly the levelling system of old, but it’s a fun system reminiscent of the kart customising found in MK7. Also like MK7, StreetPass sends over custom Miis for exhibition matches.

It would seem that Nintendo will have another hit on their hands among both the core and casual crowds as Mario Tennis Open smashes into stores next month. Some may decry the lack of an RPG mode despite the customisation options trying to fill the same shoes in a simplified way, and its absence is indeed saddening since few games scratch that same itch. However, the greatest strength of Mario Tennis has never been about watching meters fill, but rather gathering friends for accessible, intense and downright fun match-ups. With console-quality gameplay and more ways to play together than ever, Mario Tennis Open will have no trouble living up to its legacy.

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User Comments (61)

Boshi

#1

Boshi said:

Seems to be shaping up very nicely, I was hoping it would be closer to Mario Tennis on the N64. Looking forward to this one especially with the online modes looking good as well.

ChosenOne25

#4

ChosenOne25 said:

Looks to be the most feature-rich Mario Tennis yet. It seems Nintendo is really upping the steam on the 3ds and its going really well, plenty of games. I'm just worried that they won't have enough resources to do the same with WiiU. I would hate to see the Wii U end up with only very few games on launch 0.0

SanderEvers

#6

SanderEvers said:

I always loved the RPG mode, but it's not entirely missed. This is more like a normal tennis game, and not so much a storygame.

Myx

#7

Myx said:

not interested in another old mario game rehash. rather disappointing what nintendo is trying to deliver. besides some hardcore fanboys not many people will be interested in this nth installment.

AutumnShantel

#12

AutumnShantel said:

Usually not a fan of sports or sport games, unless there's horsepower involved.The only Mario sport game I've played is Mario Golf for the GCN and GBA. But this looks good, I might try it.

NintyMan

#13

NintyMan said:

I'm glad that they took out the power shots from Mario Power Tennis, as it did seem like overkill to have someone use a power shot about every few minutes. With a more traditional tennis experience and the customization settings, this could be a favorite of mine of the Mario Sports games.

Spoony_Tech

#14

Spoony_Tech said:

Why oh why does Nintendo have this hold on me. I wasn't going to get this game. Didn't even care about a few days ago. Now I want it. Stop making good games. I don't have that much money.

BenAV

#17

BenAV said:

I was always going to end up getting this, but now I'm actually quite excited for it.

ZulFoDK

#18

ZulFoDK said:

I have never liked powerups/shots in f.ex. Tennisgames - it makes them more like a game oc chanse than of skills, and you could just as well decide the game by throwing a dice...

Punny

#19

Punny said:

Mario Tennis is the reason why I love to play tennis (casually). It's nice to see the series back away from the Power Shots while still offering fun new modes and Mii customization. The RPG mode will be missed, but on the plus side, I won't have to worry about taking forever to give my characters the experience points I have earned (that took forever!).

XCWarrior

#20

XCWarrior said:

That killed some excitement for me. I'm in that group that wanted the RPG elements. The customization is nice, but not nearly as complex. Will be good for a $20 pick up.

Shotgunryugan

#21

Shotgunryugan said:

I'm so excited for this game,i love tennis it's one of my favorite sports(next to Volleyball and Ice Hockey),but i've never played any of the other Mario tennis games,should i download Mario Tennis from the Wii's Virtual Console before buying this?

WhiteTrashGuy

#22

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I'm more of a MARIO GOLF person myself, but I really liked MARIO TENNIS on the 64 and the online modes look like they'll seal the deal. My GF just bought me UPRISING so this will have to go on the back-list after MARIO KART 7, STAR FOX 64 3D, and RE: REVELATIONS.

CowLaunch

#23

CowLaunch said:

I like Nintendo Life, I really do, but why must every article about a Mario game feature the phrase 'mustachioed plumber' or 'portly plumber'? After reading these descriptions of Mario in video game journalism for about 20 years, it's getting a bit wearing.

bro2dragons

#24

bro2dragons said:

Am I the only one who's kind of bothered by the completely flat, unconvincing audience members and background characters in an otherwise impressively stylized 3D game? They're just jarring and once I notice them, I can't see anything but how horribly they clash with the rest of the game.

HaNks

#25

HaNks said:

can't wait for online competition! for me, that's what this game will be about and the reason for day 1 purchase :)

StephenYap3

#26

StephenYap3 said:

I enjoyed the Power Shots and RPG mode in the Mario Tennis series, but I think I can live without them in Open.

sinalefa

#28

sinalefa said:

@ChosenOne25

I am starting to think the same. I just hope they have so many good ideas in store that both systems will have plenty of good games. They said they are learning from the 3DS launch, and that one only had three average first party games.

Retro_on_theGo

#31

Retro_on_theGo said:

I'm really starting to look forward to this. I'll probably wait for a sale though. Good thing there is online multiplayer. All my friends are ignorant stubborn people who need action in their multiplayer.

OdnetninAges

#32

OdnetninAges said:

Dang it. I don't even have Kid Icarus Uprising yet, and the next big online 3DS game is almost here! :{

Nin-freak

#34

Nin-freak said:

No Power Shots? Not worth $40. I'm gonna wait. Sorry Nintendo, you can't take things out and expect people to like it. You IMPROVE it! You don't take it out. That's just lazy on the developers part.

Nin-freak

#35

Nin-freak said:

@NintyFan I was hoping for improved Power Shots(As I said). If all they did was make your Power Bar charge at half the speed it would be perfect. I don't like how they just took it out. And it wasn't like you HAD to use the Power Shots on Power Tennis. You could turn them off. And I'm sure they could make an online mode with and without Power Shots. Come on Camelot!

Punny

#39

Punny said:

@Nin-freak
In Mario Power Tennis' single-player Tournament Mode, players couldn't turn Power Shots off. In order to unlock more content in the game, players had to play through the Tournament Mode. I don't hate Power Shots, yet I'm not their biggest fan. :)

hendie001

#40

hendie001 said:

sounds better every time i hear about it . next i hope for a mario hockey game lol im not going to hold my breath but it would make mario fans in canada very happy

WiiLovePeace

#43

WiiLovePeace said:

Did they really include the entirety of the original SMB as a wall scroll for you to hit the enemies on in that mode? Like all 8 worlds? If they did that easily makes this game an insta-buy & that's on top of all the other content too. This Mario Tennis game is gonna be awesome :D I'm also hoping for a new entry in the Mario Golf series.

FonistofCruxis

#44

FonistofCruxis said:

I'm actually disappointed at the lack of power shots but the extra modes look awesome so I might get this.

zenarium

#45

zenarium said:

mario Kart is still the best game for 3Ds but mario tennis isn't bad... going to buy it :D

Whopper744

#46

Whopper744 said:

aw come on @tech101. I don't have the money really either but I'm definitely looking into this one! :p
Wouldn't mind to have someone else to play with online!

Boshi

#47

Boshi said:

@hendie001 actually quite strange that there hasn't been a Mario Hockey game seeing as how he's covered so many sports over the years.I'm sure it would be good fun.

Rargon

#48

Rargon said:

Really loved Mario Tennis (GBC) though I've only played Mario Tennis (GBA) for 5 minutes at a friend's house. If there really isn't a Story Mode or anything, I'd still get it, never stopped me from begging parents for Mario Tennis on the N64.

SLiM

#49

SLiM said:

I would have killed to have online multiplayer for Mario Tennis back in the N64 days.

bub166

#50

bub166 said:

I've never been excited for a Mario sports game, or a sports game in general, really. This seems really fun.

MeloMan

#51

MeloMan said:

No items eh? I'm pretty much take it or leave it, although sometimes I liked the chaotic SSB style of randomness.

Luffymcduck

#53

Luffymcduck said:

Meh, no RPG mode, no buy. Online doesn´t work on my 3DS at the moment and Mario Tennis multiplayer was always meant for big screen. Single cart multiplayer might make me want to buy it cheaper if some one wants to play portable Mario Tennis with me instead of other great games.

HaNks

#55

HaNks said:

i think RPG mode was always been in the handheld versions partly cause they were very cut down presentation wise compared with the full 3d console versions. because this is more akin to the console versions i don't see it as a big deal...the online modes and leaderboards will easily make up for it with hardcore gameplay!

bowser

#58

bowser said:

AW YEAH! This is gonna be the greatest Mario Tennis game EVER! Who needs RPG when you've got intense rallys! AWESOMENESS!

Yellowgerbil

#59

Yellowgerbil said:

Haven't played one of these before and goes on my list of nintendo series of games I haven't played (or owned); Starfox, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf.

shake_zula

#60

shake_zula said:

Definitely more likely to get this thanks to the exclusion of RPG elements and power shots. I'd sooooooo much rather see Mario Golf, though.

Gilius

#61

Gilius said:

@MrPanic Eh... I don't really like Mario golf series. You didn't have the freedom to run around or such. I'd rather have just stuck with Mario tennis in the first place.

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