Review by Gruel
"Pretty good tennis game, but I prefer Virtua Tennis for Dreamcast instead."
Face it folks, the N64 will go down as the winner of the king of multi player consoles between the PSX, Saturn, and N64. Look at the exclusive N64 hits like Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark, Turok 2, and 3, Super Smash Bros., Mario Party 1, 2, and soon 3! The list goes on and on, and now here's another one to add to the collection which is called Mario Tennis, developed by Camelot Software, the same people who made Mario Golf for the N64 last year. Will this game live up to be a even better hit than Mario Golf? Let's get onto the review and find out.
Well, this is indeed one of the most stunning visuals I've seen on the N64. I was surprised that how smooth the game runs with 4 players at once, especially on the Bowser stage, with no slowdown whatsoever. Every time you nail the ball, you see a special slash from your tennis racquet to add to the dazzle and special effects of the game. All the Mushroom Kingdom heroes look great, and beautifully rendered in 3-D. The courts look absolutely amazing, you got little bomb-ombs in the background, and koopa troopas as the people who chase after the balls, a Mario ripoff ref, and the same guy who's in the cloud to watch over the game. What an amazing surrounding, plus you can always see a scoreboard on screen, plus another little board which tells you how fast your opening serve is. My only complaint in this department is that there's a replay after each(which looks stupendous I might add) and every shot, this gets tedious right away, especially seeing them after a shot that wasn't all that great.
This another well done part of the game, all the character say a few of their one-liner's, like Mario's ''It's-a me'' and characters like Yoshi and Donkey Kong letting out little grunts and roars. They all let out happy shouts when they win a shot, or pouts when they lose a shot. All the tennis sound effects are down to notch with the ball bounces and tennis racquet smashes. And they got some good classic Mario music playing in the background while you play. Great job in the sound department overall!
I gotta say, while the controls are pretty darn easy to learn, they do feel a bit sluggish. You move around with the control stick, and hit shots with the A and B buttons. You can do different type of shots like a lob by pressing both buttons simultaneously, or if you hold down the A or B buttons, your character does a power smash. But to me, the characters don't move fast enough around the court, resulting in plenty of missed shots, also character's don't seem to dive enough for the ball like in Virtua Tennis for Dreamcast. This frustrates me a lot, and makes me feel like smashing my controller down on the floor. This is the biggest flaw in the game.
This is one of the biggest rosters of all the multi player Mario games. The game boasts about 16 characters with some hidden ones, and some others that can only be unlocked with the Transfer Pak(Yes, Camelot is working on a GB Color version of Mario Tennis, slated for next year!), you got everybody hear, from the usual stars like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Wario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and even some new stars like Waluigi(Rival of Luigi, his name is also some scrambled Japanese word meaning ‘evil'), and the returning Princess Daisy, who hasn't been seen since the original arcade Donkey Kong. Like Mario Kart 64, each characters have certain strengths and weaknesses, like Mario & Luigi are average players, but heavyweights like the Kongs and Wario have hard hits, but move slow.
The game tries to excel to be a good single player game, and it has enough stuff here for a lonely gamer to last a couple of weeks like a tournament mode you use to beat several different cups to access different characters and modes. Then there's exhibition play to perfect your singles and/or doubles game, and some special modes like Ring Shot where you get points to hit the ball through rings to get points, and finally the Bowser stage, where you play on a rotating stage with lightning bolts, and flying turtle shells, which is a weird combination of the weapon system in Mario Kart 64 combined with tennis. Pretty wacky action overall which tends to get hard to follow. But the big beef here is the multi player action, you'll just go nuts playing with up to 3 friends in doubles action. This game actually is better at multi player than it's singles game.
The game saves all the stats in a table chart, ala Super Smash Bros., of all your tournament wings and awards onto the battery backed memory. I do think the developers at Camelot could've added some type of story mode or something to make the tennis game more exciting than just a tournament mode, so the single player experience seems to lack here, but the multi player action rules, you and your friends will be playing this for hours on end. And for future replay value, the game is compatible with the Transfer Pak to unlock even more characters from the GB Color version of the game to be released in 2001.
+: Nice roster of Nintendo heroes, Great Multi player action, Great Visuals & Audio
-: Sluggish controls, lacking single player mode, replays get annoying
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 7.1
Replay Value: 7.7
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 8
Well, if you're looking for some good single player action, then I suggest getting Virtua Tennis for Dreamcast instead, it's World Tour mode is a way better main single player mode than Mario Tennis' Tournament mode. But if you're looking for some great multi player fun, than get this game, you and your friends will go nuts over this. But I recommend getting Virtua Tennis way more than this, Mario Tennis may have a slightly better multi player play, but Virtua Tennis has a superb single player mode, and great multi player action! But if you don't have a Dreamcast, the only competition for tennis games on the N64 is All-Star Tennis ‘99, and Mario Tennis is way better than that, so get this game instead.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/00, Updated 10/28/00
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