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Mario Tennis Review

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Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: August 8, 2000 Also On: None

Mario Tennis put the sport of tennis on my radar. In fact, the only reason why I am currently involved in tennis at all is because of this Nintendo 64 smash hit (no pun intended). The fundamental rules, techniques, etc. were all displayed vividly and excited me about my prospects for playing relatives and friends. This game led me to becoming more active in an unfamiliar game that I likely would not have grown to love otherwise.

In Mario Tennis, you choose from eight-teen playable characters, including, but not limited to: Mario, Luigi, Waluigi, Wario, Peach, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Baby Mario, Boo, Toad, and more. Each of the eight-teen players has their own skill type. The types include: all-around, technique, power, speed, and tricky. Their abilities can speak for themselves, as you can easily see.

Game modes in Mario Tennis include 1-4 players and special games. Special games consist of a five point game and a tie-breaker to seven points. The solo game has five different game modes, which I will highlight in the following paragraphs. In the exhibition mode, as in most other games, is a quick way to get a game in, without going through a tournament. Players select singles or doubles, sets and games per sets, player, opponent’s difficulty, and the court (ten total by my count).

In the tournament mode, you select one of three cups, which vary in difficulty. You’re thrown into a bracket of eight competing players. The first game in the tournament will take one set, along with the second. The third and final match is a three set match. According to my save file, there is also a fourth cup (Moonlight Cup) that I forgot about since the last time I played, which has been a couple years. The ring shot mode commands you to collect a certain amount of coins, while someone hits a ball back and forth. In one of the modes, if you lose a ball, you’ll have to give up what I will call an ‘extra life’. In this mode, there are five ‘extra lives’ given to you each game. Modes will vary between lives, time limits, etc.

The Bowser stage is almost like a Mario Kart version of tennis, in the sense that the question marked boxes float over the court. When the tennis ball touches one of the boxes, it will provide you with a power-up, which can be used on your opponent. Such things as lightning, bananas, and turtle shells make their appearance. The fifth and final game mode in the solo game is piranha challenge. In this, three piranhas spit tennis balls out of their mouths at different speeds and you have to hit them back. Be careful where you hit the ball, since a computer player will hit them back at you, if he can.

Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast came out only a month earlier, but as displayed in this review, Mario Tennis departs the mainstream of tennis gaming, reviving what would have all but been considered a dead genre. Since Mario Tennis’ rise, other companies have served up some titles, but none have matched the quality of what I consider the best sports game on the Nintendo 64.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.6
Written by Kyle Review Guide