Mario Tennis (Mario Power Tennis)

Best played with four friends.


The Lowdown

Pros: An easy to get into game with plenty of secrets to find.

Cons: Isn't much different from Mario Tennis N64 and may be too simplistic for some.

Purchase at Play-Asia
Camelot has made hit after hit by taking Nintendo's mascot characters and then putting them into sports games. It started on the Nintendo 64 with Mario Golf and then Mario Tennis. When Nintendo released Mario Golf: Toadstool Open, it was only a matter of time before the Mario Tennis series moved to the Gamecube.

Mario Tennis has a number of modes that gamers should be familiar with. There is the exhibition mode, used when you to play a quick game. You can play with up to four players for a two on two doubles match. If you don't have anyone to play with you can play against a bot that has four degrees of difficulty. If you don't have anyone to play with you'll want to check out the Tournament mode. In this mode you'll battle your way up the ladder to become the star of the Mario Tennis circuit. Playing and winning different tournaments unlocks secrets like extra levels, characters and mini games. Some things that we've already unlocked: a classic Mario Brothers course complete with 2D sprites and a playable Petey Piranha from Super Mario Sunshine.

The cast of characters in Mario Tennis GC is pretty diverse. Of course you have Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Wario, Waluigi and Bowser. You also have a couple of notorious Mario villains like Boo (Teresa in the Japanese version), Koopa (also known as Nokonoko), Shyguy (Heyho) and Bowser Jr. Donkey and Diddy Kong also join the mix, along with Daisy from Super Mario Land. There are a number of classic characters to find. We've already mentioned Petey Piranha. We'll hint at a walking mushroom and two flying characters. Characters can be classified in four categories: average in all attributes (Mario), power characters (Donkey Kong), defensive characters (Waluigi) and tricky characters (Bowser Jr.). These definitions are based on each characters special moves. After a few lobs back and forth your player will glow yellow and you can unleash either an offensive or defensive move. When Mario wants to get on the offense his tennis racquet changes to a giant hammer and he smashes the ball at great speed towards the other team. His defensive move has him spin to where ever the ball is and makes a guaranteed hit. Bowser Jr., one of the tricky characters, hits the ball with a giant paint brush and sends three balls flying out instead of one. Boo has a similar super move where he hits the ball and a bunch of ghosts follow it.

Supporting Mario Tennis' cast of characters is a huge variety in the games different stages. You can play on a standard regulation style court at Peach's castle or opt for a traditional clay court. The clay court gives hit balls a much harder smack when they rebound off the ground than the basic court, which is a good thing. If you want to try something other than standard tennis you can play on Wario's court that has moving treadmills on the ground. You can change the direction of the treadmill by hitting the different arrows that reside on top of the tennis net. The moving floor keeps players on their toes throughout the whole game. Donkey Kong's court has crocodiles that latch on to players and slow them down. One of the more challenging courts to play is the Super Mario Sunshine inspired court. This court has sliding tiles that move in or out depending on where the ball bounces. If a tile slides in the court, water is exposed. Players can still move around the water, but if a ball lands in the water it's an out. This creates a whole new challenge of working with less room and having more precise shots.

If you're tired of the whole tournaments Mario Tennis has some mini games to keep you busy. The first has you paint balloons that pop out from pipes and you need to hit these balloons on the wall to color Mario's face. Another mini game takes place in Boo's haunted house where you have to hit ghosts back into the pictures they pop out of. One of the more challenging mini games to play is a the game where you need to clean up sludge. In this game water comes out of the pipes and you need to hit it on the spots of sludge. If you clean the sludge you may reveal a shine. If you clean up enough of the sludge spots in a row you can clear a line and get bonus shines. Our favorite game though is one of the multiplayer games where you have to hit a huge chain chomp with tennis balls. You get one point for hitting your ball at a normal chomp, but you can score two points if you hit an enraged chain chomp. You can enrage your chain chomp or your opponents by hitting a bomb at it. However, you have to be careful because if you hit it with one more bomb you'll have to run to the button at the end of the screen to spray it with water. You can also calm you chomp down by hitting water at it, but if you hit a normal chomp with water it will go to sleep. Hitting a sleeping chomp with tennis balls wont net you any points. When you play with four players this is one of the best games to play because you'll be hitting bombs back and forth at each other while running away from your chain chomp.

See, Mario Tennis is really multiplayer game. After awhile the computer AI just doesn't cut it. Playing with a buddy or better yet three, never gets old. Mario Tennis is a great game to have when you have people around, like Super Smash Brothers Melee or Mario Kart Double Dash. Mario Tennis is also easy to get into and easy to learn, which makes it a great game for hardcore video game players and casual players alike.

All of Mario Tennis' strengths are also it's weaknesses. While Mario Tennis is great to play when people are around it's just not as fun to play against a computer. The computer doesn't have the same challenge and doesn't talk trash back to you like a real person would. The game's easy accessibility is a huge strength for multiplayer, but as a single player game it makes the game too easy to master. You'll learn the controls almost instantly and have be relatively good after a couple of hours of play. Unlocking stuff is much quicker than it was n Smash Brothers so I wouldn't be surprised to see player only pick it up when other people are over. Another thing that some people may complain about is that Mario Tennis is really similar to the Nintendo 64 version. The main difference being the extra mini games and improved graphics. Same gameplay with a slightly improved physics engine may make owners of the original game reluctant to pick up an upgrade.

Overall, Mario Tennis is still a really fun game to play. It may be simple, but it's addictive. Add in a couple of friends to the mix and you'll be happy you picked this up.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 2

The game has some really Japanese heavy menus and instructions for the mini games. Fortunately, most of the game play can be figured out with a little trial and error.

US Bound?

Mario Tennis will be released under the new moniker Mario Power Tennis on November 8, 2004.

Overall

Mario Tennis is a fun game to play, but it really is designed for multiplayer action.