Review by Psycho Penguin

"Funny commercial, great game"

I did not know what to expect from Mario Tennis at first. Who could blame me? I had never really played a tennis game before, well besides some of the old classic ones I have on the NES. The ones that I have played have struck me as rather odd games. On one hand, they were quite fun to play, and provided hours of enjoyment. On the other hand, they seemed to be nothing more than simple Pong ripoffs. Whack the ball back and forth, it appeared to be nothing more than Pong with tennis rackets and a tennis court (with tennis players, of course).

That is why I was kind of uneasy as to what Mario Tennis would provide. After all, what if this game turned out to be nothing more than another Pong ripoff? And what if Nintendo decided to go overboard with the series and make a Pokemon tennis game or something? Could Nintendo actually make a tennis game fun to play, or would it end up being nothing more than a silly Pong ripoff with mario characters? And I had never played Mario Golf at the time (I still have not, to this day) so I was not aware of the type of gameplay that this game was ''supposed'' to have.

So, the day that Mario Tennis finally was released at my local Blockbuster, I made sure to rent it out, just to see what kind of a game it was. I said to myself that if I really liked the game, I would probably end up buying it. I ended up returning the game to Blockbuster that night. Usually, that is not a good sign. But this time it was so I could go to Target and buy the game! This really is a great and fun game, and Camolet and Nintendo really did a great job in creating a fun tennis game that the whole family could enjoy.

There is not really much of a storyline to this game, as you may expect. After all, it is a tennis game, for crying out loud. And most sports games have never featured any story whatsoever, besides ''win the championship'' or whatever. So, the basic story in Mario Tennis is to win the tennis championship. Interesting, huh? ^_^ The story is good, because there is no story. If there was a story, it probably would have been either way too overdone, or not developed enough. So the fact that this game features no storyline is definitely a good thing.

One of the most hyped things about the Nintendo 64 as a video game console has been the graphical capabilities of the console, as many of you may already know (hell, all of you should know that by now). So, I was interested to see as to how the graphics in the game would turn out. I feel that while there have been a lot of great looking games released for the console, some of them have lacked personality. A perfect example of a game with good graphics that lack personality would be Goldeneye.

I was pleased to see that the graphics in Mario Tennis did have some personality, in the form of being kiddy and very colorful. For those of you that have played Mario Party and Super Smash Brothers, you will have a good sense as to what the graphics in this game look like. The game looks great, as the ball animates well (with the flying colors soaring behind it, even though it makes it look too much like a hockey game on Fox Sports sometimes ^_^) and the characater designs are nicely done.

One of the things I was most surprised to see when it came to graphics in this game was the fact that there was hardly any noticeable slowdown in the game, at all. I was expecting there to be some slowdown featured, with all of the action that is going on the court. However, there is hardly any slowdown at all!! For once I was actually pleasantly surprised by slowdown, and that is definitely a good thing. Camelot should be applauded for making this game look great, full of personality, and with hardly any slowdown. Good job!

The music in the game is a mixed bag. Far too often I am disappointed by hearing kiddy music that gets annoying. However, the music in this game never gets too annoying. Sure, there is the ocassional instance where your ears cannot take hearing the same kiddy tunes played over and over again, but after a while those feelings subside and you can listen to the music again without having to worry about using your remote to turn the volume on mute. This is the best aspect of the music in Mario Tennis: none of the music can be described as annoying, or anything of the like.

I am really pleased to announce that, too, and the music score is increased simply for the fact that the background music during the actual matches does not interfere at all with the matches themselves. Have you ever played a game where the background music got in the way of the gameplay so badly that you could not stand playing the game after a while? I have, and I am not really a fan of those types of games at all. So, I was glad to find out that the music in this game was not distracting.

Now, onto the sound effects featured in the game. As some of you may know, one of my favorite things about sound effects in video games has always been voice acting. I am disappointed with games that do not feature voice acting, and I am a fan of games that do feature voice acting. And guess what? Mario Tennis features voice acting. Well, I am not going to lie to you and say that there is a ton of voice acting featured in the game from all of the characters, because there is not. But you do get all of the characters saying some stuff during the match, as well as a commentator announcing the scores and stuff. These are great sound effects at their best, and to say I was pleased with the sound effects in the game would be an understatement.

Like I mentioned earlier, I have always had mixed emotions about the video game tennis genre, and all of the games found within the genre. I have always been a fan of the games, and think they are all very fun to play. However, as I have already mentioned (again), I feel as if a majority of them are simple Pong ripoffs. Whack the ball with a paddle, whack it back and forth for a while. *yawn* I was hoping for something new with Mario Tennis, and something new I got.

First off, as you may expect, there are a lot of Nintendo characters featured in the game. Hell, all of the characters in the game come straight out of Nintendo games, more specifically, Mario games. The characters in this game are Yoshi, Paratroopa, Birdo, Bowser, Daisy, Baby Mario, Luigi, Mario, Donkey Kong Jr., Peach, Shy Guy, Donkey Kong, Birdo, Wario, Walugi, and Toad. That equals 16 characters in all, not bad for a tennis game. And the cool thing about the character selection is the fact that each character has strengths and weaknesses, and a particular attribute. For instance, a character can have a good accuracy, but be on the short end of the stick when it comes to power.

Then there is the fact that there are a lot of fun modes featured in the game. There is your basic exhibition mode, which is basically a regular singles or double match. Then you have the tournament mode, which has you go through a few different styles of play (Star Cup, Flower Cup, Mushroom Cup) in order to win cups and prizes. There is also the options to change the amounts of sets and points you have to win, etc. While I still do not completely understand the rules and format of tennis, this really is a fun game.

A game can have a lot of modes and characters, but if it is not a fun game then chances are I am not going to want to play it much at all. Fortunately, Mario Tennis is a fun game! The actual gameplay mechanics and control during the matches combine to provide the game player with an outstanding video game experience. I really did not know what to expect from this game, but I am pleased with what I got: a fun, well varied, in depth, and overall well rounded game that is one of the all time greats on the Nintendo 64.

Since I enjoyed playing this game so much, it is fairly obvious as to what I feel the replay value of this game is. Needless to say, I felt that this game provided the player with a fun gaming experience and an overall great replay value as well. There is something about this game that makes you want to keep on playing it over and over again, more so than in any other sports game out there. I never felt I would be addicted to a tennis game as much as I am addicted to this game.

One of the main flaws of this game has got to be the challenge level of the game. Never in my life have I had relatively smooth sailing in a sports game. On the easiest challenge level, I could probably beat this game using my nose or something to move the joystick. It really is that simple. However, it does get kind of challenging in the more advanced stages. It just does not have the type of challenge I expected, and I am disappointed to say that.

With all of the great things about the game, I am not going to make the game seem horrible just because I felt it is not as challenging as it could have been. This is one of my all time favorite Nintendo 64 games, as well as being one of my all time favorite sports games. It really is a great game, and I feel as if with a little more work this could have been a monumental game for Camelot, Nintendo, and the video game tennis genre in general. It just missed being a monumental game, but it is still a classic game.

Good Points
-This review is almost as long and tedious as a King Broccoli review.
-No Pokemon characters are playable in this game!! Whoo!!
-The depth, variety, mechanics, control, everything is great.
-This is an awesome party game, play it with friends for a good time.

Not So Good Points
-The cover of the game is a little lackluster ^_^
-Mario is not the best character in the game.
-There is only one commercial for the game.
-The challenge level of the game is downright horrifying.

I Run Down the Ratings… Da Ladies Man style!
Storyline – Not Available
Graphics – 9.8/10
Music and Sound Effects – 9.3/10
Gameplay and Control – 9.4/10
Replay Value – Way Above Average
Challenge – Below Average
Recommended Purchase? – Definitely!
Overall – 9.2/10
The Last Line: It just missed being monumental, but it is a classic game, and that is enough to warrant buying this great game!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/00, Updated 07/16/01


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