The Latest

Mario Tennis Open Review

Over the years, Camelot Software Planning’s fanciful interpretations of athletic recreations have accrued a legion of devotees. From an inaugural entry in the Everybody’s Golf franchise (known to U.S. players as Hot Shots Golf) to a pair of perennial Nintendo 64 favorites- Mario Golf and Mario Tennis, the studio has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to create games which are welcoming to newcomers while offering enough nuance to satisfy experienced players. Although the recent release of Mario Tennis Open for the Nintendo 3DS forsakes the engaging career mode that is common to Camelot’s sporting titles, the combination of a robust multiplayer component and several absorbing supplemental mini-games propel the title to the top of the portable tennis standings.

Contemporary tennis titles typically come in two varieties. Some, like Wii Sports Tennis or Ubisoft’s Racquet Sports espouse simplicity, automatically moving the virtual athlete around the screen, as players focus on shot selection. Others like SEGA Superstars Tennis, offer a zany interpretation of the sport, complete with special attacks which relinquish any semblance of realism. Mario Tennis Open straddles the two extremes, offering two divergent ways of play. For those seeking accessibility, the title uses the 3DS’s gyroscopic functionality, tasking gamers with rotating the system to place shots, while the game automatically positions your on-screen athlete. To engage this dynamic view, players need to hold the top screen in a vertical position, which quickly fatigues your arms unless gamers are playing the title in a reclining position.

Alternatively, when the 3DS is held normally, players may use either the touchscreen or face buttons for their shot selection. With a healthy repertoire of strokes- ranging from lops, smashes, drop shots and slices, players can either cycle through their catalog of volleys with the triggers or use simple button combinations. Although players may use any type of swing at any time, a number of elements influence the speed and trajectory of your shot. Charging a particular button increases the difficulty of return, increasing the velocity or the amount of curve on a sliced swing. Periodically, colored circles appear on the court; if players can match the color of the icon to a corresponding shot, the ferocity of the return is amplified. Unlike most embellished versions of tennis, hitting the ball never becomes impossible thanks to the absence of any character-specific specials.

In execution, Mario Tennis Open’s gameplay is adept, with extended volleys and each intensifying difficulty level requiring an advanced mastery of control and a savvy prediction of where your opponent is going to place the ball. Yet, single players will likely find fault in the game’s tournament mode, which offers little more than a succession of matches again a variety of Nintendo personalities on themed courts. These competitions do pay dividends, however they lack the light role-playing mechanic which elevated Camelot’s past efforts.

Instead, each of the game’s tourneys reward success with currency, which can be used to purchase new stat-boosting equipment and clothing for your athlete. Although this sounds like a reasonable incentive, players can’t customize pre-existing Nintendo characters outside of selecting from a handful of colors; only Mii’s can be modified. Additionally, the game’s expression of effectiveness for each piece of equipment is lost in a pie graph, which doesn’t illustrate how new items compare to your existing loadout. As it stands, collecting additional shirts, racquets, and shoes is enjoyable, but the undertaking isn’t as absorbing as it could be.

Fortunately, Mario Tennis Open makes up for this failing in captivating collection of mini-games. Ring Shot requires players to aim their shots through ring which increase in size, which simultaneously decreasing in value, while Galaxy Rally requires gamers to keep the ball in play amidst shifting gaps on the court. By far the cleverest diversion is Super Mario Tennis, which tasks players with hitting objects as the playfield of Super Mario Bros. scrolls past. Each smashed brick, coin, or enemy adds to a player’s score as well as to a dwindling timer, contributing to the mode’s addictive quality. With a range of difficulty settings and a liberal payment of coin, these Special Games are certainly one of Mario Tennis Open’s highlights.

The title’s other virtue is its connectivity, which allows players to engage in local, download, or online single or doubles matches. While the level of competition is aggressive, Mario Tennis Open’s netcode is consistently capable, delivering reliably lag-free contests. The game’s StreetPass integration is similarly efficient, allowing players to either vie comparatively or work cooperatively. Hopefully, the title will secure enough purchasers to make this component involving. After a week marked by twelve successful StreetPasses, I didn’t encounter a single player who had played and activated the game.

Camelot’s expertise in crafting satisfying pick-and-play sporting recreations is evident throughout every match of Mario Tennis Open. Whereas some contemporary tennis titles play like a graphically renovated adaption of Pong, this game offers an intriguing number of shot selection- which help sustain some interesting play. As long as players can overlook’s Open’s tedious single-player tournaments, a combination of a solid online functionality and engrossing mini-games mean Mario’s latest athletic outing is a commendable purchase.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

19 comments

  1. Good review. When you hold the top screen vertical, doesn’t that ruin the 3D effect? I wonder why they didn’t offer an option instead?

  2. I usually keep up on Nintendo releases, but this one completely missed me. When I looked it up, I was really surprised to see that it was already out.

    How many Nintendo characters are in the game?

  3. Is this still on sale for $29.99 anywhere? I swore I saw a deal on it.

  4. Mortal Kombat Vita has finally been dethroned from the portable spot!

    Good, fair review. Waiting for Mario Golf. Maybe Nintendo will announce it at E3.

    • I totally agree. A good Mario Golf on the 3DS would make me want to hug my 3DS.

      BTW: How is the 3D on the game?

  5. If you scan in this QR code you can get a Yellow Yoshi for Mario Tennis Open. I’m waiting for Black Yoshi.

  6. Found QR code for Blue Yoshi. Are there any QR codes for other characters?

    (BTW- I think this is a cool idea. Kudos to Nintendo for not making these hard to find cards, like Kid Icarus)

  7. Can you play people from all over the world or just your territory?

  8. Weeping Walrus

    Thanks for the QR codes, guys!

    Great review too!

  9. I found one more QR code for a Yoshi costume for your Mii. Yeah, kind of lame, but it’s free.

  10. I’m still not quite sold on tennis as a game. I played Mario Tennis on the N64 and GC and only thought it was ok. The concept is just a bit too simple for videogames unless you put in specials.

  11. Man, I love Camelot’s N64 games. Still play them once in a while.

  12. Post all the QR, codes here please. Thanks for the review.

  13. SO this has full download play or is it nerfed?

  14. Time to complete this thread!

  15. Red Yoshi QR code

  16. Blue Yoshi QR code