Review by BimmyandJimmy
"Tennis is great and so is Mario"
Well, it's been about two years since I've reviewed Mario Tennis, and I think it's time for a makeover because seriously, I really hate the way I wrote this review. Anyway, even though this review has FINALLY changed, my opinion has not for this game. Mario Tennis, while it has gotten a little stale over time, it is still a relativity fun game for you to own in your Nintendo 64 collection.
Visually, I really going to take back everything I said about the game having passable graphics because to be perfectly honest with you, this game has really aged in this category. In fact, I'm actually kicking myself for saying this game has some 'cool' character designs. I must have been really tired when I wrote that because the designs in this game are ugly. Now, don't get me wrong, when done right, ugly characters can make a game play and feel better (like in Super Smash Bros), but in this situation, not a chance. There are tons of sharp polygons on practically every character, the texture and color is limited and looks cheap, and the number of cheesy 2D sprites is just some of the graphical problems present.
In contrast, the music and sound are adequate. One of the better aspects is the voices. Every character has their own creative and memorable voice when they score or loose a point, coupled with the crowd's chants and applause which also sound great. What I always found kind of interesting is that sometimes when you're playing far away from your opponent(s), it kind of has a subtle Doppler effect. I don't know of this is an audio problem or not, but I like this because it makes you feel like you're at the court watching the game.
I usually have never had any problems with the music in this game. Mostly it's just comprised of fanfare like themes which although sound interesting, are unfortunately lost in the background and it makes it hard for anyone to hear it.
As a tennis player myself, I think that Mario Tennis, while it is obviously completely unrealistic, matches the excitement of tennis quite well. Yes, it's hard to believe but tennis can be exiting sometimes.
When you first start up the game and arrive at the main screen, you'll find that not only can you play a healthy number of modes and matches, but as fourteen of your favorite Mario characters from past and present games well at that point in the year 2000. Each one of them adds variety and flair to the game, as does the number of tennis courts, each which have their own statistics on bounce and speed. For example, clay makes the ball bounce slow and low (which by the way, if you're any tennis fan who knows his or her stuff, is the wrong stats for a clay court; it's supposed to have a high bounce, low ball speed) while the hard court is moderate speed and high bounce. If that wasn't enough the games physics, while exaggerated, are quite realistic. Why? Different characters perform better on particular courts than others. For example, technique players are best on clay, while powerhouses like Bowser do fantastic on laminated rubber hard or composition courts.
Controlling your character is simple. Literally to hit the ball, you just hit the A and/or B buttons. Not exactly rocket science here. OK fine, so it sounds easy, but it does take time to master proper shot selection because further on when you face off against hard level computers, you have to know which shots to make to keep your opponents on their toes.
Actually the biggest problem that I have with the gameplay is the computers, or to be specific, your own AI partner who you play doubles with. To put it bluntly, they can either help you or screw with you. For example, when it seems like your partner could easily smash the ball back on a high lob, he misses and you end up loosing the point because you also can't react fast enough to run over to the other side of the court to save the ball in time. Worse, when it's time for your opponents to serve to your partner, he always has this tendency to lob the ball to their front man, who will end the point quickly in their favor with one hard smash, and if you though it couldn't get any worse, I have had incidences when he serves the ball and double faults it continually. Now double faulting is really easy when playing real life tennis (I should know), but in a Mario tennis game, I don't want to see this happening.
Now, don't get me wrong, I still like this game even with its annoying little flaws and I would recommend picking it up for no more than twenty bucks at your local gaming store. Still, as a sports game in general, if you aren't really into these older types of games for older consoles, then just stay away from it and let people who suffer from Nostalgia or own a big N64 collection buy it. Trust me; you'll both be happier this way.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/29/08, Updated 11/19/12
Game Release: Mario Tennis (US, 08/28/00)
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