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Mario Tennis Open Review
Developer: CAMELOT Co., Ltd.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB: E for Everyone
Release Date: Out now
Mario sports titles are usually hit-or-miss. As of late, though, they've mostly been the latter. Mario Tennis Open is one of the first Mario Sports to hit the Nintendo 3DS (if you don’t count Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games). With the 3D, touchscreen, and Streetpass features the handheld provides, is this Mario Tennis title going to be as great as its Game Boy Color and Advance predecessors? Or does it fall flat and is yet another Mario sports game that should be pushed aside?
When you start up the game, it’s immediately evident that there is no RPG or story mode in sight – sorry to those who were looking forward to the possibility of it. I guess that’s alright though, as long as the gameplay is solid. And it is… right? Unfortunately, it’s pretty basic and could be a whole lot better.
Mario Tennis Open still follows the series’ basic formula: go through tournaments and destroy the other opponent with crazy moves. CAMELOT has made use of the 3DS’s bottom touchscreen to provide ease in choosing the perfect strike. The button for the most suitable move at that moment will even light up. Here’s a secret, though. The game can be as simple as using the X button. The X button will take on the role of any power shot, and will become the one that is best for that precise moment. It won’t be quite as powerful as a true power shot, but it works perfectly fine against COM players. It’s a bit silly how dumbed-down the gameplay has become with that simple implementation.
Despite this change to gameplay, how does the single-player tournament mode fare? It’s at least somewhat entertaining and a great way to waste time … for about two or three hours. Once you go through all the cups the game has to offer, there’s not much to do besides farm for coins in Mario Tennis Open’s minigame mode and play multiplayer (if that’s possible for you). At least with the COM player difficulty, they seem to be either super duper easy to play against or mind-crushingly hard. With the latter, you might even have your playtime extended due to having to deal with their seemingly cheating ways!
As a side-note, as a Nintendo game, Mario Tennis Open shockingly spends very little time teaching you the ropes through tutorials. Toad gives you some pointers (that are actually HELPFUL) after tournament matches, when you wish you could have known them beforehand. There were still some maneuvers and whatnot, however, I had to look up online to figure out how to do.
Enough talking about the tournament mode – it’s easy enough to establish that it’s not the best. Mario Tennis Open offers a “special games” mode, which essentially features tennis minigames with special rules. This mode is probably the best out of what the game has to offer, with four different minigames to choose from: Super Mario Tennis, Ring Shot, Ink Showdown, and Galaxy Rally. Super Mario Tennis is probably the most unique out of all of them. In it, you must play various levels of the original Super Mario, but with tennis! It’s pretty fun and takes a lot of practice to master.
Hopefully you do enjoy these minigames, because they’re the only way to earn coins for purchasing new tennis equipment and outfits for your playable Mii character (you can get coins from local multiplayer, too, though). It would’ve been nice to also be able to earn them from tournaments. At least you still get the coins you earned in minigames, even if you lose. And you’ll most likely be losing a lot in the minigames, especially in their later levels. So the issue of earning enough coins shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
As far as unlockables go, CAMELOT at least made it so you don’t just have to bulldoze through tournament mode to get hidden characters, costumes, and so on. You’ll have to do things like achieve certain requirements through the minigames and even multiplayer. Nintendo has even implemented free DLC through QR codes. As of right now, you can get a rainbow of different Yoshis to play as and a green Yoshi costume for your playable Mii.
While Mario Tennis Open WAS a bit fun to play for a few hours, it quickly became stale and boring. Despite there being a variety of unlockables to get and items to buy in the shop, it feels like too much of a chore to get all of it. I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the next handheld Mario Tennis title that fans have been looking forward to. So, even in the future when the price for Mario Tennis Open has been lowered, it’s probably best to skip it and save your money for something better.
+ The minigames are unique and provide some good fun
+ Tons of unlockables and QR codes offer free DLC
- Single-player mode is extremely short with how quickly tournament mode can be beaten
- Gameplay is made too simple with “press X to win”
Overall: 5.5 (out of 10)
As a handheld Mario Tennis game, this one is only so-so and falls short. It’s definitely not worth buying at full price, so save your money for something else.
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