Mario Tennis Open 3DS Review – Bring Your Lucky Racquet
Release Date: May 20, 2012
ESRB: E – Everyone
So many countless hours of my childhood spent enjoying Mario Tennis on the N64 have prepared me well for this latest addition to the series. Created by longtime series developer Camelot for the Nintendo 3DS system, Mario Tennis Open follows the same tried and tested formula that fans of Nintendo character sports games have come to expect and rely upon.
But with such a wide variety of sports games now hitting the market, many of which have taken full advantage of different techniques and motion control technology, has the time come for Mario Tennis to mix things up?
Mario Tennis Open features a wider variety of in-game activities than its predecessors, including singles and doubles tournaments and other gametypes, unlockable rewards, and access to the Nintendo Network for online multiplayer. The overall quality of the content is also commendable, but definitely not without its flaws.
The game offers 16 characters (some of which must be unlocked) which a single player can use in various competitions. The first are singles or doubles tournaments. There are four distinct levels of tournaments, different cups, that increase geometrically in difficulty as the player progresses. In the top half of the tournament spectrum, the game becomes difficult enough to get frustrating, with a little too much of the match’s progression depending on luck, rather than player skill.
A new gameplay mechanic in this iteration is the use of special shots that rely on pressing certain buttons in sequence with proper timing or tapping the screen with the stylus. The usage of this technique is negligible early on, but becomes almost integral at higher levels. Any gamer who has the coordination to move, charge a shot, and tap several buttons at once while watching two screens simultaneously deserves a medal for being a natural pro at this game. For anyone else, the “challenge” will likely get tiresome pretty quickly.
And God help you if you happen to be colorblind.
The two other single-player gametypes are exhibition play and special games. Exhibition is basically a custom games lobby, allowing players to set up their own custom matches by choosing their character, opponent(s), stage, and match characteristics. Special games are matches that incorporate more objective based gameplay, such as aiming the ball through rings to score points. These games are designed to allow the player to practice particular skills and improve performance on the tournament court. In other words, great for the non-competitive gamer who likes to just play around and have fun.
Who would have thought that adding unlockable rewards to Mario Tennis could make it more addictive and become a key point of interest among players? Most of these rewards are items that can be added to the player’s Mii to alter stats during online games. These come in the form of customized racquets, outfits, sweatbands, and shoes. Each of these items has their own characteristics of speed and power. Certain characters and stages can also be unlocked through various methods of play.
Like many Nintendo games, the graphics in Mario Tennis Open are very bright, crisp, and cartoon-based. Though they also have an air of realism to them, especially in the excellent design of the courts, stages, and characters. The music is appropriate to the game- subtle and helping to set the tone of a friendly sporting competition.
Mario Tennis Open does a good job of keeping to expectations (and even adding to them), but Camelot’s attempts to improve the gameplay with new control systems falls too short to be considered an advantage. This phenomenon seems to be a recurring problem in games released for the 3DS, though hardly one significant enough to deter long-time Nintendo fans and dedicated gamers.
+Wide variety in gameplay
+Integration of online multiplayer
+High potential for long term play
-Poor use of new control elements
-Odd and pointless use of gyro sensors
-Dependence on chance at higher levels
-Missing some gametypes from previous installments
3.5 out of 5 stars