Review: The Mario Tennis Series Takes a Stumble With Open (Nintendo 3DS)

Gimmicky control set-ups and a lack of much challenge in single player keep this game from being a champion.

At one point in time, you couldn’t go wrong with Mario Tennis.  When it was first released on the Nintendo 64, it was a simple little party favorite, packing hours of addictive gameplay, especially if you brought along friends.  The game fared even better on the GameCube with Mario Power Tennis, featuring more great multiplayer options, as well as better graphics and court offerings.  But on the 3DS, Mario Tennis Open feels like it takes a stumble for the worse.  The core gameplay is still in the game, along with many offerings for single and multiplayer offerings, but it just feels like something is off in the serve.

In the game, you choose from various characters from the Mario universe, some better balanced on power, others on speed.  From there, you’ll play in single player tournaments, challenge a few mini-games and even hop online to see what the competition has to offer.  So, yes, when it comes to options, Mario Tennis Open has plenty to offer.

 

But then Nintendo went and added some gimmicky new control schemes that change up the game in rather unentertaining ways.  The first, and biggest, problem, lies within the gyroscopic controls.  Whoever thought it was fun to control a player by tilting your device apparently wasn’t thinking straight.  Number one, you have to turn off the 3D visuals, which is part of the appeal of the game to begin with.  Number two, even when you think you’ve got full control, there are times the computer takes over for “hot spots”.  Finally, it’s just plain inaccurate, especially when it comes to returns.  The regular controls, using the thumb nub, work much better.

 

That’s another thing – hot spots.  Throughout each game, you’ll be able to stand on these little locations and launch a ball in various ways, whether it’s a “stopper” that drops dead in the middle of the court or a wild lob that goes sailing to the back.  While it’s nice to have these pop up every once in a while, it becomes tedious as they pop up nearly after every shot.  We like unpredictability in a match, but not this much unpredictability.

 

One more thing – when you hold the 3DS to a certain level, the view switches to a behind-the-player perspective, and while this is good, it’s not nearly as helpful as seeing everything you would in a full court perspective.  Plus, you might miss some Hot Spots while the AI player nails them nearly every time.