Review by horror_spooky
"Worse Play Control!"
Coming off of playing Mario Super Sluggers, I had high hopes that New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis would deliver a similarly entertaining gaming experience. Actually, I had even higher hopes for this NPC game as Mario Power Tennis was awesome on the GameCube and its predecessor on the Nintendo 64 was even more epic. Unfortunately, Nintendo has succeeded in taking a great game, porting it, and completely ruining it beyond possible repair. You'd have more fun if you were just staring at the Wii Menu for hours straight. How could the Big N screw up so badly?
Mario has dipped his toe in many different sports throughout the years. We've seen our favorite Italian plumber play soccer and basketball and race karts against his friends and adversaries. Hell, we've even seen him battle his rival Sonic the Hedgehog in not one, but TWO video games revolving around the Olympic Games. However, whenever Mario gets on the tennis court, it's usually something quite special. The original N64 Mario Tennis game was addicting and ridiculously fun. The GameCube version of Mario Power Tennis built upon the mechanics introduced in the N64 classic to deliver a truly awesome experience on Nintendo's underappreciated box. A Mario tennis game is practically what the Wii was built for, with the tennis game mode in the Wii's flagship title Wii Sports being extremely popular among hardcore and casual gamers alike. It's a concept that you'd think couldn't go wrong. That's not the case.
Mario Power Tennis practically plays for you. All you have to do to hit the ball back is swing the remote. I never failed to return the ball to my opponent just by flicking my wrist ever so slightly, and the motion controls aren't even as advanced as they were in Wii Sports. On the flip side, my opponent could never seem to return the ball to me after I returned their initial serve, except for the later tournaments, but even then I nearly always came out on top.
The reason for this is that it seems almost impossible to miss the ball unless you don't swing the remote at all. On top of that, every single time you swing the remote, it's automatically a super-powered charged hit. In the original Mario Power Tennis, these took a little bit of skill to pull off successfully, and they were fundamental in helping you win games against the tougher opponents. NPC! Mario Power Tennis is overwhelmingly easy, and it's a serious, serious flaw.
Besides the tournaments though, and this is literally one of two things that keeps this port of Mario Power Tennis from being a 1/10 game, there are multiplayer options. You can play in a doubles tournament, which is just as tediously easy as the singles tournament. The only time the game is even remotely fun is when you're facing a human opponent in singles action. That's also the only time you'll feel challenged by the game.
Well, I sort of take that back. NPC! Mario Power Tennis has a host of tennis-themed mini-games for you to delve in. They're basically just as unbelievably simple as the rest of the game, except you'll occasionally have to time your shots for some of them. Yeah, that's all the challenge you'll get from this sucker, and the mini-games were boring even when the rest of the game was excellent back on the Cube. Just imagine how boring and tedious they are now with the weak as hell motion controls and the game's tendency to hold your hand through everything.
If you couldn't tell, I do not like this game. I don't like the fact that Nintendo has failed to produce an original tennis game on the Wii and instead decided to port an excellent game and ruin its good name by tacking on motion controls that ruin the experience to the point that it's hardly recognizable. I can't believe that this game is supposed to be an improved version of a game I played the hell of back on the GameCube with a nice, old school controller without any motion control gimmick.
I mentioned that there were two things that made New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis not the kind of game that you would want to hunt down and destroy (though it's still a game that you would want to avoid like the plague). That other thing is the game's visuals. Mario Power Tennis is a very pretty game with the charm that only Mario and the gang can bring to the table. The graphics aren't as good as they could be if it were a brand new game and not a port of a GameCube title, but whatever. The variety in the stages and all the character designs are excellent, and easily the best thing about the entire game is the graphics and the complete lack of bugs or glitches.
Usually I can walk away from a Nintendo game and always have something good to say about the soundtrack. Nintendo has a tradition of providing beautiful soundtracks for their games, and while Mario Power Tennis doesn't necessarily have bad tunes, they're just not memorable. You won't hear them in your head hours later and they certainly aren't going to stick with you for that long, except for the classic Nintendo music found in this horrible NPC! title. It does nothing new though, and the audio quality of the original Mario Power Tennis was hardly relevant back in its day either.
If you somehow manage to force yourself to play this game long enough, I reckon you can squeeze a decent amount of hours from it. There are a nice amount of tournaments, there's cooperative play in the doubles tournaments, and there's a versus mode. There's mini-games and stuff, too. The game is stuffed with content, but the gameplay is boring and it almost feels like you're not even playing half the time. All you have to do is make a swinging motion with your arm and you're basically guaranteed to hit the damn ball where it needs to go.
New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis isn't the only game in the NPC! line. You see, Nintendo is trying to re-release GameCube games with added motion controls to reach a wider audience. That's all fine and good, but when the motion controls do nothing but make the game overly simplified, extremely boring, and to the point that it's almost impossible to lose, that's really a problem. The only positive things I can say about this game is that it's pretty, the soundtrack isn't terrible, there's a lot of stuff to do (albeit unbearably boring stuff), and there's multiplayer. Instead of poorly porting an old tennis game from the GameCube, why didn't Nintendo try to build a brand new Mario-themed tennis game for their spiffy Wii and do the motion controls right? In the mean time, gamers looking for their Mario tennis fix will find that their time is better spent with the GameCube version of the game or the Nintendo 64 original.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Originally Posted: 03/08/10
Game Release: New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (US, 03/09/09)
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