Saturday, May 19, 2012

Latino Gamer Reviews – Nintendo's Mario Tennis Open

Time to check out Mario's latest outing to the courts.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Camelot
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Platform: Nintendo 3DS Exclusive

The Story

Nintendo continues pushing their 3DS handheld with the release of Mario Tennis Open, the latest entry in a long line of Mario sports titles (and an even longer list of Mario spinoffs.) The game is developed by Camelot, the group responsible for several previous Mario sports games.

As is standard in any Mario title, there is almost no story to really speak of. The familiar cast of characters takes a break from go-karting to meet up on the tennis courts. Right off the bat you can play as Mario or most of the other standard characters, including the likes of Daisy and Waluigi, who seem to be exclusively for these spinoff games at this point. There are also additional characters you can unlock as you go or by scanning certain QR codes. For those of you who enjoy customization, you can even choose to use a Mii character and add to it various items you unlock as you play through the game.

The Gameplay

The core gameplay seems incredibly simple at first. Depending on the orientation in which you hold your 3DS, you will have either a top-down view or an almost over-the-shoulder third person perspective from just behind your character. The top-down view requires you to control most of your character’s movement on the field, while the third-person view moves your character automatically for you much more. The bottom screen shows you the available swings, which also correspond to one of the face buttons. You can tap the screen or press the buttons, whichever you prefer. The middle option, “Simple Shot” is the easy choice – never optimal, but will usually hit. The other options are more specialized shots and the game will often highlight the optimal choice. You can enjoy the system’s 3D perspective from either view, which adds just a little to the experience, but this feature still has not impressed me.

The game has a few different modes under single-player. Once you play the quick tutorial, you will most likely spend most of your time playing through the various tournaments, unlocking more as you win. As you would expect, these games pit your character against a bracket of other competitors till you win. The first couple of tournaments are very easy – you can get away with barely paying any attention and just tapping away at “Simple Shot” to take you all the way. Only after this point does the game start to really pick up and force you to start thinking and keeping your eye open for those optimal shots to win.

Besides the regular tournaments, there are also some variant games, including ones based on the NES Super Mario Bros. and the Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy. Like the “extras” found in New Super Mario Bros. for the original DS, these are worthy distractions for short periods of time, but do not add significantly to the value of the game. Luckily, the multiplayer options include both competitive and co-op play. This is really what a game such as this is meant for. If you have some friends who enjoy the Mario Sports games, this is likely where you will find the most enjoyment. There are even StreetPass options, which will surely add to the game, especially for all of our friends who attend StreetPass meet-ups.

The Bottom Line

On my first couple hours with the game, I was pretty disappointed with the ease and simplicity of the game. Once you get over those initial stages, however, the game does pick up significantly. If you have been a big fan of the Mario Sports games on previous systems, Mario Tennis Open definitely delivers more of what you have enjoyed in the past while developing the idea further with some nice little extras in the form of Mii customization. For those of you who have not been fans before, the 3D effects and lackluster extra modes are unlikely to entice you any more than previous entries. If you are just looking for something to play on your 3DS, Nintendo has already released several more-deserving titles this past year. Ultimately, this game is most definitely one “just for the fans.”

Thank you for reading and happy gaming.

Final Score

About the Author Rafael is the founder and video editor of Currrently a graduate student at California State University, Los Angeles pursuing his master's degree in Computer Science. He loves reading and learning about video game history and development. His dream is to be a video game designer.
Rafael es el creador y editor de video de Es estudiante de posgrado en la universidad del estado de california, los ángeles trabajando hacia su maestría en la ciencia de computación. Le encanta leer y aprender acerca de la historia y desarrollo de videojuegos. Su sueno es ser diseñador de videojuegos.