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Mario Power Tennis Review

Developer: Camelot Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 8, 2004 Also On: None

Nintendo is the sole video game developer responsible for the hit series’ of Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, etc. They’ve to say the least, revolutionized the way that we look at games, play games, and talk about games. If it wasn’t for Nintendo, the ‘game pak’ would be the duller ‘game pack’. Who needs proper English anyway, right? Nintendo sure doesn’t, they make their own rules. In this case, they made their own rules for how a tennis game should work.

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The Nintendo 64 saw a wildly successful sports game by the name of Mario Tennis. To no surprise in the gaming press, Nintendo announced early in the GCN’s life cycle that a Mario Tennis game would be released. It took until E3 2004 for us to get the first glimpses of what this game would be like. It wouldn’t be until the game was released that I even knew about the new ‘defense’ and ‘offense’ system.

With the new Mario Tennis comes a new name, Mario Power Tennis. In this review, I’ll just refer to the game as Mario Tennis. The original, as I will call it, was my favorite sports game on the Nintendo 64. It was, actually, my favorite sports game, until Virtua Tennis was released for the Dreamcast. For a genre lacking in games, the few that do come out are of high quality, for the most part.

The game mechanics in Mario Tennis are similar, but not identical, to that of the original. For one, the B button isn’t used as much as you did in the original, the triggers are used, and as I spoke of earlier, the ‘defense’ and ‘offense’ systems. Let’s just start out with the defense, since this is the biggest change from the original.

In Mario Tennis, you will have the ability to save balls bound for an opponent’s point with the press of R and A. A cut-scene will be generated, then you will need to select the direction you want to hit the rebounded ball. The offense move, once generated, also sparks a cut-scene. Consider this a high-heat fastball. The offense move can be defended against with either the defense move, or a regular hit, but your character will be stunned.

At first, I found the defensive move damning to a successful use of tactics. It’s always satisfying to outwit your opponent in tennis. When this is stolen from you, due to what amounts to theft, you feel like you were robbed, justifiably. Newbies won’t be familiar with this, and will be thoroughly confused and frustrated. I suggest that if you get someone new to play against you, even if they’ve played the original, first turn off the power moves. The cut-scenes generated adversely affect the pace of the game.

To add to the confusion, Nintendo included gimmick courts. This includes Luigi’s Mansion, Isle Delfino, the original Mario Bros. Arcade game, etc. In Luigi’s Mansion’s court, ghosts will drop banana peels under the feet of the players, disrupting the flow of gameplay. You’ll need to turn on lights on your side of the court to scare away the ghosts. They’re definitely gimmicky, but they add to the game’s charm. No one says you’re required to have the gimmicks on though. It’s perfectly possible for you to play on those courts without the gimmicks active.

Let’s face it, 2004 wasn’t a good year for the GCN. Mario Tennis was the highlight of my year on the purple cube. With such ingenuity, it’s a shame that Nintendo’s falling behind in the console race. Mario Tennis will provide you with a good time both alone (there are several game modes that we didn’t even scratch the surface) and with friends. Mario Tennis, like its original, is meant as a party game, with friends.

As odd as it may be, playing as animated characters in tennis grew my appreciation for the sport, until I eventually tried it for myself. Today, it’s my favorite sport to play. Mario Tennis for the GCN gives another generation the chance to give a second-tier sport some attention. Whether you’re a casual sports fan, a hardcore tennis player, or have never played/watched the sport, Mario Tennis is for you. The target audience is anyone that likes to have a good time.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9
Written by Kyle Review Guide