Preview: Mario Tennis Open (3DS)

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Mario came out strong for his first proper 3DS appearance in last winter’s Super Mario 3D Land, but 2012 is already shaping up to be an even bigger year for Nintendo’s beloved icon.

In addition to the surprise announcement of New Super Mario Bros. 2, coming to the 3DS in August (and the Wii U Mario title that will be revealed at E3 in June), Nintendo will release the latest installment of its Mario Tennis series – Mario Tennis Open – on May 20, exclusively for the 3DS.

Before you know it, 3DS owners will be able

to scoop up their own copies of Mario Tennis

Open and hit the court via Nintendo Network –

but what else can gamers look forward to with

this latest Mario Tennis title? Keep reading and

we’ll fill you in on everything we know about

the game, from its mini-games to its roster of

characters and special tennis courts.

To be honest, I always preferred Mario Golf

to Mario Tennis – from the RPG elements of

Advance Tour (GBA) to the brutally-difficult

courses in Toadstool Tour (GCN), I always

thought the golf games were better than the

tennis ones. Mario Tennis Open looks to change

all that, offering more depth and features than

any of its predecessors – though unfortunately

it won’t boast any of those RPG elements from

previous handheld Mario sports games. Instead,

Mario Tennis Open will be based mostly on its

fast-paced, arcade-style tennis gameplay and its

wide variety of bells and whistles. I would like

to break down some of Mario Tennis Open’s

biggest and best features, starting with…

Gameplay:

Mario Tennis Open will play almost

identically to its predecessors, for the most

part: Nintendo has promised that the game will

feature controls that utilize the buttons, the

touch screen, and even the 3DS’s gyroscope

sensor for a number of playing styles.

The tennis action in Mario Tennis has always

been pretty fast-paced, especially after some of

the recent games started going crazy with all

the various power shots. Mario Tennis Open seems to utilize some of these ideas, and possibly some more of its own. For example…

Shot Variety:

It looks like you’ll be able to mix up your shots in Mario Tennis Open with ease; you’ll just have to press different face buttons or colored spaces on the touch screen in order to pull off trickier shots (top-spin, lob, drop shot, and so on). You can see how the shots are aligned on the touch screen in the image below.

Sure, many of these shots were around in past Mario Tennis games, but the 3DS installment really seems to flesh out the idea of using different strategies and putting some “touch” on the ball in order to smack the ball into the right area of the court at any time.

Dynamic View:

Another nifty feature of Mario Tennis Open is the “Dynamic View”, which involves both the integration of the gyroscope sensor, and a new method of control that seems to be designed for beginners (or at least those who seem to enjoy every last 3DS gimmick they get their hands on).


This is the “Dynamic View”

perspective in Mario Tennis Open.

Dynamic View is quite literally “dynamic” in that it is automatically activated when the player brings the 3DS to “eye level”. The 3D effect is automatically turned off, and the on-screen character more or less plays automatically until you decide to start swinging at the ball. Dynamic View basically seems like a way to experiment with the gyroscope sensor while also simplifying the game, almost to the degree of playing a fancy Wii Tennis.

Characters and Courts:

Like any sports game featuring the Mario

brand, Mario Tennis Open will boast a large cast

of classic Mushroom Kingdom figures. You can see

the entire cast of Mario Tennis Open in the

image below, not including the four secret

characters (for a total of 16) that can be

unlocked in the game. We already know that one

of the secret characters is the Mii character.

There are also 8 unique courts in Mario

Tennis Open, each challenging players with

different types of court surfaces, obstacles,

and other elements to deal with. One of the

courts even appears to be taken from the

Mushroom Gorge level of Mario Kart Wii. Eight

courts seems like quite a bit, but it would be

pretty sweet to see Nintendo expand that number

with future DLC through the Nintendo Network.

Mini-Games and Customization:

Mario Tennis Open boasts some replay value-

extending factors such as a deep character

customization option (which translates to online

play, as well) and four unique mini-games that

can be played at any time.

One of these games appears to involve hitting

tennis balls through gold rings, as you can see

above. Another game puts you in front of a huge

wall with scrolling images of Super Mario Bros.,

which you can see below.

Moving on, the character customization is

perhaps the most impressive and interesting part

of the game; players can unlock and equip 200

different items that ultimately change

attributes such as shot power and movement

speed. This will certainly add another layer of

depth to the otherwise simplistic, face-value

experience: online players should be pretty

unique, with their own equipment set-ups and the

like.

Online Multiplayer:

Finally, quite easliy the most exciting feature boasted by Mario Tennis Open is its Nintendo Network accessibility. Gamers will be able to jump online and play against each other from anywhere in the world with WiFi – though I’m not exactly sure if the “Communities” from Mario Kart 7 (or anything similar) will return for Mario Tennis Open.

Mario Tennis Open will feature multiplayer modes for local play as well, though we still aren’t sure if it will support the “Download Play” function. In case you forgot, the Download Play allows anyone without a copy of the game to play multiplayer against anyone with a copy laying around. Personally, I think this is a feature that needs to be more common, starting with Mario Tennis Open.

With just a few weeks until Mario Tennis Open finally lands in America’s court, 3DS owners should keep their eyes out for Mario’s latest outing – though it appears to be little more than a spruced-up version of the same Mario Tennis gameplay we’ve seen since the Nintendo 64, it also looks like it could be one of the sweetest instlalments in the series to date, boasting more depth, mini-games, and multiplayer capabilities than any of its predecessors.

Will you be picking this one up in May? Let us know what you think about Mario Tennis Open in the comments section!