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Mario Tennis Open
It’s been a long time since Mario and his pals have taken to the tennis court. Seven years, in fact, since Mario Power Tennis served its way onto the Gamecube. Not a single DS version was delivered in that time, and although Mario Power Tennis was remade for the Wii, there were no new tennis adventures to be had there either. It was a shame, considering how popular the Mario Tennis games have been each time they’ve launched.
Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS is a welcome and long overdue return to the courts, this time in full 3D. The same popular Mario Tennis gameplay is here, albeit with some new touch-screen controls that allows for easier shot selection. However, this tennis match commits a lot of technical faults, some that can make playing the game incredibly frustrating. Yes, Mario is back on the tennis court, but unfortunately he’s a bit out of practice.
The most frustrating part of the entire Mario Tennis Open experience is the silly third-person view switch, initiated by holding the 3DS straight. This was added to make things easier for the player, as the game takes over character movement so players need only worry about shot selection. The problem lies in holding the 3DS upright: it’s damn uncomfortable. In a sitting position, I had to rest my elbows on my legs just so my arms didn’t fatigue. This view can be turned off, sure, but good luck finding it in the options menu. You’ll need Kirby from the Great Cave Offensive for that job.
Without using the new view, Mario Tennis Open plays just like the old games, a sign Nintendo followed the “don’t fix what isn’t broken” mantra. The game offers singles and doubles play on a handful of themed courts, though there aren’t much differences to the arenas besides setting. Unlike, say, Mario Super Sluggers, where obstacles could affect the field of play, this is the same matches over and over again with different characters watching the action. The arenas are pretty, don’t get me wrong, they’re just bland.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Mario Tennis Open is the lack of a proper single-player mode. There are single-player tournaments and mini-games that unlock more items for your Mii character (who can play on the court, by the way), but that’s it. That’s a GLARING omission from previous Mario Tennis titles, as the single-player mode was the bread-and-butter of the game. Unless there are friends around to play with or I want to venture online for a bit, there’s not a whole lot for me to do.
While all of these things are disappointing, one fact holds true: the game is still FUN. The gameplay is still as fun as it was back on the Gamecube, the action just as intense. There were matches with back-and-forth volleys that seemingly lasted forever, and the feeling of scoring an ace is unmatched. Plenty of times I would yell something like “HA! Take that Boo, you jerk! How do you even hold the racket anyway? You’re a ghost!” The online modes are excellent as welll; I paired up with another player for some excellent doubles matches. While the game doesn’t offer the same amount as previous versions, it’s still just as fun as ever.
Mario Tennis Open is still an enjoyable and entertaining Mario Tennis game, but it just doesn’t offer the same amount of options that previous versions have. I still can’t believe there’s no true single-player mode, and while the mini-games are fun, they tend to get old fast. If a group of players want to take to the court, they’ll have fun for days, but if a lone tennis player is looking for fun, unfortunately he’ll have to look elsewhere.