Mario Tennis Open Review
Mario and friends are back for another tennis match.
It's been 8 years since a new Mario Tennis game has graced our Nintendo consoles, and frankly, that's 8 years too long. Mario Tennis games have been unanimously fine-crafted, and the portable entries in the franchise are no exception. When a Mario Tennis game is featured on a portable console, it's expected to be an excellent tennis-RPG hybrid, a combination that is just insane enough to turn out awesome. And regrettably, with the release of Mario Tennis Open, the trend of RPG excellence that portable Mario Tennis games offer has been broken. That said, Mario Tennis Open is far from being a bad game. Camelot, the game's developer, have been at the helm of the series ever since Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64, and they've done a fantastic job at creating a tennis game that feels downright good to play. However, the approach they've taken with this title is significantly less Mario-like than other entries in the series. Nothing about the main game is over-the-top or whimsical. In fact, the removal of the physics-breaking “Power Shots” introduced in Mario Power Tennis have left the game feeling like a beautiful, enhanced port of the Nintendo 64 entry. Fortunately, Mario Tennis is a great title to grasp inspiration from, and Open plays and feels just as great as the other entries.
Mario Tennis Open features a few additions to the series, the most important being color-coded shots. When the ball is returned by the opponent, a colored circle may appear on the player's side of the court. Each color, six in all, correspond to either a single button, or a button combo, and in order to fully take advantage of the shot, the player must stand within the circle on the court. The addition of this new play type is certainly a game-changer, and with the subtraction of Power Shots, it brings the series back to relying on the skill of the player rather than over-powered games of chance. Following the course of the first game, each of the sixteen characters fall into different class types: All-Around, Technique, Speed, Tricky, and Power. These categories define each character's play style exactly as they sound, and the difference between each is definitely noticeable.
The second noteworthy addition is the option to play as one's Mii. Rather than falling into the aforementioned classes as the other characters do, Mii's are a blank canvas to be painted by different outfits, each containing skill set variations. These outfits are comparable to Mario Kart 7's different kart parts, allowing for complete customization and a Mii that truly reflects the player's preferences. In a way, this feature is a shadow of the RPG elements in the Mario Tennis portable offerings of yesteryear, but a shadow nonetheless.