Review by BigReed
"Nintendo continues its "Less is More" policy for multiplayer games; It is not working"
Introduction - With the launch of several Mario themed sports games, Nintendo was able to find an audience that enjoys sports and also enjoys video games, but they do not like simulator or realistic games like Madden, Fifa, and pretty much every other sport EA has a game monopoly on. Nintendo was able give that audience of gamers what they wanted with light hearted sports games featuring their famous Italian plumber, and release games that cover soccer, hockey, baseball, tennis, golf, and basketball.
With the surprising success of these games, it seems like Nintendo wants to continue pushing them out on new hardware, but they either pass the development duties off to another studio or they skimp out on the features. Sadly, Mario Tennis Open may have some fun moments, but because of a lack of worthwhile modes falls short of a truly fun game. Mario Power Open is a very grind heavy game, but unlike most grindy games, there are no addictive features to be found.
Gameplay - The core gameplay of Mario Tennis Open is surprisingly simple yet allows for some strategy. Rather than using power shots seen in past Mario sports titles there are chance shots. These shots if done correctly by inputting a certain button command (or by pressing X) will allow your characters shot to have a special ability. Some of these include fastballs, curve balls, and stall balls. While I am not a fan of the power shots from prior games because of balance reasons, chance shots are a welcome addition. My one gripe with these shots however is the Boo shot. You can never really tell if your opponent is going to use it until it happens, so you'll need to be playing pretty close to the net.
There are also some included mini games in Mario Tennis Open. One of the more interesting mini games allows you to play Super Mario Bros. (NES) by hitting a tennis ball that takes the place of Mario in the game. When I first saw this minigame when Mario Tennis Open was announced, I was really intrigued. But after playing the game several times it began to become boring. That is the story with Mario Tennis Open. After you play it for awhile it becomes boring. Single player, Online, Minigames all lose their luster after about ten minutes. The 3ds version of the series is really more of a pick up and play game. And in a game industry where games that are played in short bursts are either free or 99 cents, it is difficult for me to suggest a 40 dollar game with such simple concepts.
Story - Incorporating a story mode or an RPG mode would have been fantastic. Even if the story has no text or dialogue, having something to work towards other than Mii unlockables would have been a blessing. Instead of having a robust single player mode, Nintendo decided to include an online mode then go light on the other features. They used this strategy with Mario Kart 7, except in MK7s case the online was much better.It seems for some reason that Nintendo is taking on a less is more idea with their 3ds offerings. Mario Kart 7 and now Mario Tennis Open both have had features removed that were common in the series. This is another reason why suggesting this game at full price is difficult to do.
Graphics/Sound - One thing this game does right is the graphics and sound category. It seems Nintendo has mastered taking a limited amount of system power and whipping it into something that looks great. Mario games generally age pretty well other than Mario 64 of course. Nintendo uses character models and sounds from home console Mario games, and slightly reworks them for the 3ds. While it may not look as good as the Galaxy series, the colorful somewhat cartoony style fits the system. I mostly played with the 3D off, but the 3D for the game seemed fine. Nothing special, but it did not hurt the experience at all either.
As far as sound goes, you will hear the usual Mario universe quotes and sound effect, nothing standout or special here.
Play Time/Replayability - Mario Tennis Open will last you as long as you are willing to stick it out with this game. After about 12-14 hours I began to become pretty bored with the experience because none of the modes are really fleshed out. Some may find the very simple online mode as a source for more play time, but online is very quick and extremely plain. This is where a better single player mode would have helped out a lot.
Final Recommendation - Mario Tennis Open is a tough game to suggest to anyone. All of the game modes become stale quick, and none of the modes are very expansive, saying that though, the core gameplay can be pretty fun. Sadly, that fun does not last very long and this is more of a pick up and play title.Only purchase this game if you understand what it offers or if you can find it marked down or on sale.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/14/12, Updated 07/17/12
Game Release: Mario Tennis Open (US, 05/20/12)
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