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'Mario Tennis' holds court on the 3DS
May 25, 2012
By John Powell - G4 Canada
Forget about Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez or Sidney Crosby. Those superstar sports athletes have nothing on Mario and his pals. Over the years, they have mastered every sport imaginable, including both summer and winter Olympic events and they don't have multi-million dollar contracts to show for it.
Poor Nintendo peeps. They need better agents.
Despite not getting the recognition they deserve, the Nintendo all-stars are back with rackets in hand in 'Mario Tennis Open' for the Nintendo 3DS. The first Nintendo sports title available for the handheld system, 'Mario Tennis Open' simplifies thing focusing on charging up, placing and returning shots rather than any kind of accurate movement which eliminates any need to predict where shots will land but instead how quickly you must smash them back over the net.
Developer Camelot offers three control schemes. You can use the touchpad, buttons or you can employ the 3DS's gyroscope technology, whichever you feel more comfortable with.
The touchpad is more of a combo keyed sequence with the touchpad divided into coloured areas. Those coloured areas flash when a ball is volleyed back. If you press the correct area, you will execute a power shot. If you press the wrong area, you will still hit the ball straight back but without any bonus. The keys work in the same manner. The gyroscope switches the point-of-view when the 3DS is shifted, moved and is used to better aim or place your shots.
Whichever way you decide to play, the goal is to just perfectly time your serves and returns back as the game's A.I. itself automatically handles all of the foot work for you if you don't touch or decide to use the circle pad.
Unlike most Nintendo sports games, each 'Mario Tennis' character does not have their own power shots or abilities. Barring your A.I. opponents becoming faster and more cunning as you progress through the one player campaign tournaments, the game itself doesn't change at all as you advance. What you see during your first match, is what you will get later on. You just need to increase your reaction time as the shots come across far quicker than before.
To compensate for the lack of character uniqueness, Camelot has included a whole slew of unlockables and customization options. You can purchase stylized rackets, clothes and other accessories in the in-game store to suit up your tennis ball whacking Mii.
Outside of the one player singles and doubles campaign tournaments, you can join online matches as well as play the four mini-games that mostly require you to perform trick shots or hit targets.
Camelot surely did cut some corners in developing “Mario Tennis'. There are many missed opportunities and so much room for further enhancements which would have produced a more complete and well-rounded package. Still, the game is remarkably addictive as all heck and embodies the best of both what a rhythm game and a sports game have to offer.
Mario Tennis Open
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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.