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New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis

by Mike Gamin - March 12, 2009, 6:12 pm PDT
Total comments: 56

8.5

Are tacked-on motion controls an invitation for disaster?

You know how when you first try bleu cheese it's way too potent and abrasive, but then when you eat some more of it you realize it's the greatest cheese of them all? Hmm...no? Maybe it's just me. Regardless, that has been my experience with the New Play Control release of Mario Power Tennis. We already have a couple of reviews detailing the original Mario Power Tennis on the site, so this review will focus on what the Wii Controls bring to the table.

If you get the itch to try out tennis as a sport, after buying a racket and putting on some nice white shorts, it doesn't take long to grasp the different possible shots. Top-spin, back-spin, lob, drop shot, overhead smash...they all make perfect sense. Understanding how to execute them is a different beast, though. You can try again and again, and maybe one out of twenty drop shot/back-spin attempts will land so perfectly that it immediately bounces right back into the net, making it impossible for your opponent to return it. Even though it's far from repeatable, that one moment makes you feel like an all-star. The Wii controls bring this level of realism to Mario Power Tennis. While at first this was extremely frustrating for me, I grew to love it.

The first two releases of Mario Tennis featured a pretty significant learning curve. Michael Cole compared it to a fighting game in his review of the GameCube version, and I think that comparison works extremely well. It is very easy to tell the rookies from the experts in the Nintendo 64 and GameCube releases, and this often leaves rookies frustrated and walking away. A skilled player can run his opponent all over the court with a mix of perfectly timed lobs and drop shots that alternate between left and right court. While these early games are great in multiplayer if the skill levels are similar, it isn't the greatest party game if there is a gap.

As the New Play Control moniker suggests, the controls of the Wii release of Power Tennis are significantly different. You control your character with the joystick on the Nunchuk. Yes, you can move yourself. That alone gives this game a significant leg up on Wii Sports Tennis. For those looking for a less complex experience, if you unplug the Nunchuk the character's movement goes on autopilot. While in this mode the D-pad can be used to move your character, which is most useful for bringing your player to the net. The autopilot is a bit too good though, as it can often result in seemingly infinite volleys.

Advanced techniques, such as power shots and lunges are still controlled with buttons, but these abilities can be automated based on the control mode selected. There are four options: easy, normal, technical, and manual. I found myself preferring normal, which makes my character automatically lunge and decide which type of power shot to use, but leaves the actual performing of a power shot up to me.

Obviously, the racquet controls took on the biggest overhaul. All standard swings are done with a swinging motion of the remote. The force of your swing determines the speed at which the ball is returned. The manner in which it is swung determines to the type of shot, and there are quite a few. They are as follows:

  • A horizontal swing does a standard shot.
  • A horizontal swing going from low to high gives the ball top-spin.
  • A horizontal swing going from high to low gives the ball back-spin.
  • A vertical swing from high to low does either a smash or a drop shot, depending on the height of the ball.
  • A vertical swing from low to high does a lob shot.
  • Hitting the ball late or early in a swing sends it toward or away from the court's center, respectively

When Wii games try to differentiate among this many different gestures at the same time, the effect is rarely perfect. The first few times I tried to lob the ball over an opponent's head I instead performed a soft back-spin shot, giving him a nice piece of cake to slam back down my throat. I was ready to write the entire experience off as frustrating garbage. However, a few hours of gameplay later I began to notice something incredibly intriguing. I found my ability to hit consistent lob shots improving slightly. Was I actually getting better at my virtual tennis swing through practice? This is some amazing stuff.

Don't get me wrong. The imprecision of the controls will most likely keep all players from ever reaching the level of shot selection fluency possible in the original GameCube game. This isn't a bad thing, though. Being able to take on a strategy knowing that your opponent cannot always execute the perfect shot really adds the realism, and not always being able to hit the perfect shot makes the moments where you do all the more exciting.

Sadly, while I appreciate the realistic imprecision during a normal tennis match, it makes most of the mini-games worthless and frustrating. Given that these were originally designed with extremely precise traditional controls in mind, and those controls are not present in this re-release, they devolve into unpredictable and frustrating chores. For example, the wall-painting game tasks the player with hitting paint balls of varying colors into the proper regions to color the picture. After many attempts I came to the realization that all I was doing was randomly returning the shots and waiting until I got lucky enough to hit all of the proper spots. While this can be good for general practice, going for the fastest time is all but worthless. It might as well have been a dice rolling mini game.

Thankfully, this disparity in difficulty isn't as apparent in the computer-controlled A.I. during regular tennis matches. While the most difficult tournaments feature opponents that consistently pull off perfect shots, they don't require a similar level of perfection to be defeated. The difficulty also ramps up very evenly, allowing you to get better at the shots right along with your opponents.

There are a few other notable changes in the Wii version. Firstly, all menus are navigated using the pointer. While it would be a glaring omission if they failed to implement this, it's still nice to have it. The sound effects have also been modified to make use of the Wii Remote speaker: it's nice to hear Yoshi's patented grunt come through the remote as I hit the ball. The effect is really cool when playing four-player, as you can hear which of your friends is swinging their racket. The graphics don't feature any major changes, but the original was a great-looking game, and this version looks great on old and new televisions alike.

The original Mario Power Tennis was a great game on the 'Cube. This remake maintains the same charm and is definitely worth owning for someone who missed it the first time around. With its additional shot possibilities (and the ability to control your movement), Wii Sports Tennis looks downright primitive by comparison. If you still get a lot of play out of that game, you should consider moving up to Power Tennis. Similarly, if you are unhappy with the lack of depth in Wii Sports Tennis but like its premise, Power Tennis is right for you.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 8 8.5 9 9 8.5
Graphics
8

While it is just a port of a GameCube game, the original was beautiful. It also looks very nice on an HD television.

Sound
8

The music is catchy and pleasant. There are a ton of great sound effects, many of which come through the Wii remote speaker for a very cool effect.

Control
8.5

While the imprecision of the motions may not work for the mini-games, it makes for a more realistically error-prone and fun experience in the standard tennis matches. While this can be off-putting at first, getting better at the different tennis shots can be extremely rewarding.

Gameplay
9

While the extremely frustrating mini-games stink, the primary tennis experience is so good that it overcomes them. I don't plan on ever playing Wii Sports Tennis again.

Lastability
9

Good multiplayer sports games always make good party games at home in most gamers' collections. The imprecise controls will prevent most players from ever mastering the game, but the challenge of learning them over time only increases the longevity of the game.

Final
8.5

There is a lot to like about New Play Control: Mario Power Tennis. It takes an already great game and adds active and fun motion controls consistent with the Wii's philosophy. Any game that can take something as fun as Wii Sports Tennis and make it all but obsolete is worth owning. If only those mini-games weren't so frustrating...

Summary

Pros
  • It's like Wii Sports Tennis, but with more shot options and you can move
  • Motion controls make tennis matches more realistic and fun
  • Multiplayer games are an absolute pleasure
Cons
  • Imprecise controls make mini-games extremely frustrating
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

I picked this up the other day (mainly off of your twitter impressions) and I put a little time into it. I never played the GameCube version, so I'm enjoying it, but I have avoided the mini-games so far. I might continue to do that.
I'm still learning the motion controls and I like that there's some depth to it, even though it seems like it's going to be a pain in the ass in the later tournaments.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 12, 2009

This is perhaps one of the few good reviews I've read for NPC Power Tennis. Like with most Wii reviews reviewers get the controls or not.

So long story short, the controls work but you have to work hard to understand them, right?

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 12, 2009

They work differently than traditional controls.

You don't really have to work to understand them, they are simple to understand. But I did seem to get better over time.  I think that's a combination of understanding the rhythm and just getting a feel for how to set up each gesture properly.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 12, 2009

Guess I have to try the game out in order to get a better idea of the gameplay. Frankly, I am interested since I am a Wii Tennis whore, but reviews have been so conflicting (like always) that its hard to tell whether this is a good remake or not.

StratosMarch 12, 2009

Thanks for going into detail with the controls. Very insightful. Might be a good buy for my family as they still play Wii Tennis from time to time.

Mop it upMarch 12, 2009

8.5? That's the exact opposite of IGN, which gave it 5.8.
I myself feel that any game such as this which fails to include Toad and Birdo as playable characters deserves no better than a score of 5. You at least should have put that under the list of cons...

I haven't played much of this game yet, but I'm not so sure if I'm liking the controls. It seems no matter what motion I try it registers as a slice shot, unless I get too wild then it becomes a lob. You've given me some hope that things will improve with practice though, so I'll stick with it.

Wii games should come with instructional videos because showing the stills of the movements you need to make doesn't really help much. :-\

StratosMarch 12, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

8.5? That's the exact opposite of IGN, which gave it 5.8.
I myself feel that any game such as this which fails to include Toad and Birdo as playable characters deserves no better than a score of 5. You at least should have put that under the list of cons...

I haven't played much of this game yet, but I'm not so sure if I'm liking the controls. It seems no matter what motion I try it registers as a slice shot, unless I get too wild then it becomes a lob. You've given me some hope that things will improve with practice though, so I'll stick with it.

Wii games should come with instructional videos because showing the stills of the movements you need to make doesn't really help much. :-\

Birdo isn't in Power Tennis? That's odd, 'it' was in the N64 Mario Tennis game. Kind of a step backwards.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 12, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Quote from: Mop_it_up

8.5? That's the exact opposite of IGN, which gave it 5.8.
I myself feel that any game such as this which fails to include Toad and Birdo as playable characters deserves no better than a score of 5. You at least should have put that under the list of cons...

I haven't played much of this game yet, but I'm not so sure if I'm liking the controls. It seems no matter what motion I try it registers as a slice shot, unless I get too wild then it becomes a lob. You've given me some hope that things will improve with practice though, so I'll stick with it.

Wii games should come with instructional videos because showing the stills of the movements you need to make doesn't really help much. :-\

Birdo isn't in Power Tennis? That's odd, 'it' was in the N64 Mario Tennis game. Kind of a step backwards.

I KNOW! The other day I sent Mop_it_up a video of Bowser's celebration that featured a red Birdo he told me that Birdo was NOT in the game, which really, really caught me by surprise (especially since Birdo was in Mario Golf GC).

Mop it upMarch 12, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Birdo isn't in Power Tennis? That's odd, 'it' was in the N64 Mario Tennis game. Kind of a step backwards.

It? IT?! Of all the insults Birdo has received, calling him "it" is at the top of the list of the absolute most hurtful! :'(

I'm glad to see other people are (almost) as shocked as I am over Birdo's exclusion in Mario Power Tennis, especially since the original Mario Tennis was the game which brought him back from obscurity. All the more strange is that Shy Guy is still around, and in the cutscenes you can see Birdo as a generic race (notice how no pink Birdo is anywhere to be found though). It's the reason why I never bought MPT originally, and with its re-release I've been complaining about it quite a bit lately...

Axing Toad is just bizarre. Besides Mario Party, Toad has been playable in everything!

My guess is Camelot wanted to include some new characters but would have to make some sacrifices in order to release the game on time. I think they should have axed Mario, nobody usees Mario because he's in way too many* games!

*I lied

StratosMarch 12, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Quote from: Stratos

Birdo isn't in Power Tennis? That's odd, 'it' was in the N64 Mario Tennis game. Kind of a step backwards.

It? IT?! Of all the insults Birdo has received, calling him "it" is at the top of the list of the absolute most hurtful! :'(

I'm glad to see other people are (almost) as shocked as I am over Birdo's exclusion in Mario Power Tennis, especially since the original Mario Tennis was the game which brought him back from obscurity. All the more strange is that Shy Guy is still around, and in the cutscenes you can see Birdo as a generic race (notice how no pink Birdo is anywhere to be found though). It's the reason why I never bought MPT originally, and with its re-release I've been complaining about it quite a bit lately...

Axing Toad is just bizarre. Besides Mario Party, Toad has been playable in everything!

My guess is Camelot wanted to include some new characters but would have to make some sacrifices in order to release the game on time. I think they should have axed Mario, nobody usees Mario because he's in way too many* games!

*I lied

Sorry, I thought I recalled you saying it might be more appropriate to refer to Birdo as an it.

Mop it upMarch 12, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Sorry, I thought I recalled you saying it might be more appropriate to refer to Birdo as an it.

I'd never say anything so horrible!

StratosMarch 12, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Quote from: Stratos

Sorry, I thought I recalled you saying it might be more appropriate to refer to Birdo as an it.

I'd never say anything so horrible!

Then I remember wrong, apologies. At least I was bothered by Birdo not being included in MPT.
So do I refer to Birdo as a he (which is what he is) or as a she (which is what she wants to be)?

Given the apparent training that Mike had to go through given the subtlety of the swing mapping, it's a shame they couldn't have waited on MotionPlus support for this one.

StratosMarch 13, 2009

Quote from: MegaByte

Given the apparent training that Mike had to go through given the subtlety of the swing mapping, it's a shame they couldn't have waited on MotionPlus support for this one.

It makes you wonder if they will make another new game a year or so down the line with M+ support.

It also makes me wonder more so about the theory that a number of Nintendo's big titles are being held back due to the rumored M+ delay.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 13, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Quote from: MegaByte

Given the apparent training that Mike had to go through given the subtlety of the swing mapping, it's a shame they couldn't have waited on MotionPlus support for this one.

It makes you wonder if they will make another new game a year or so down the line with M+ support.

It also makes me wonder more so about the theory that a number of Nintendo's big titles are being held back due to the rumored M+ delay.

You may be right. I think the New Play Control games are just as much "filler" as they are introductory titles.

Quote from: Stratos

Then I remember wrong, apologies. At least I was bothered by Birdo not being included in MPT.
So do I refer to Birdo as a he (which is what he is) or as a she (which is what she wants to be)?

Shklee. Or Shklim.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 13, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Quote from: MegaByte

Given the apparent training that Mike had to go through given the subtlety of the swing mapping, it's a shame they couldn't have waited on MotionPlus support for this one.

It makes you wonder if they will make another new game a year or so down the line with M+ support.

It also makes me wonder more so about the theory that a number of Nintendo's big titles are being held back due to the rumored M+ delay.

Actually, this rumor has been around long before the M plus rumors. For example, Sean Malstrom believes one of the reasons the last half of 2008 was weak in terms of Nintendo releases is because many of them are being tailored around M plus. If you think about it, many of the games announced at the Nintendo conference are being developed by second parties and save for a few most are simple enough that they don't need M plus.

Combine this with the fact that the only releases are the NPC games, and has let third parties worked the gap and maybe its why we haven't seen any new development on new games.

The GDC, E3 and Nintendo's own conference should shed the light on this.

Quote from: Stratos

Birdo isn't in Power Tennis? That's odd, 'it' was in the N64 Mario Tennis game. Kind of a step backwards.

The N64 game is better in every way.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMarch 13, 2009

Misinformation.  The N64 game is played on the inferior controller and doesn't have Wiggler.

Mop it upMarch 13, 2009

Quote from: MegaByte

Given the apparent training that Mike had to go through given the subtlety of the swing mapping, it's a shame they couldn't have waited on MotionPlus support for this one.

There are five different types of shots you can use so there are only five different types of motions that the Wiimote needs to register. The problem is that the type of motions weren’t made distinct enough from one another to accurately register which gesture you’re performing. If the Wiimote truly can’t easily differentiate between five distinct motions then it is a pathetic piece of tech, though I don’t believe that. Other games, including Wii Sports Tennis, use motions more effectively than this game, so this is a failure on the part of the developers in that they made the different motions too similar to one another. You’d think they’d have noticed the inaccuracy of the controls especially if they tested them with the minigames, but I guess they just didn’t care.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 13, 2009

How on earth do you think Wii Sports Tennis use motions more effectively? It only has two different swings... forehand and backhand.

I'm confused by your comment in general.

The reason the mini games suck is that they require precision that is impossible to repeat _RELIABLY_ with the Wii Remote.  It's the human factor that makes it imprecise.. not the controller. If you hooked the remote up to a robot arm that did the exact same motion every time, you could then say the controls are completely precise I'm sure.

Mop it upMarch 13, 2009

The controls are imprecise because the required motions are too similar to one another. It's too difficult to do a flat shot because you have to swing the Wiimote in too straight of a line for it to register as such. If you had a bit of leeway when making each motion then the shot registration would be a lot more consistent and accurate. Of course, I'm not a programmer so I don't know if that would have been difficult to implement or not.

Robots don't play this game, people do, and the game should have been designed with humans in mind. I guess I just don't appreciate the human error factor like you seem to though.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 13, 2009

Quote:

m confused by your comment in general.

Birdo does that to the mind.

MorariMarch 13, 2009

Quote from: MegaByte

Given the apparent training that Mike had to go through given the subtlety of the swing mapping, it's a shame they couldn't have waited on MotionPlus support for this one.

Proper detection of swing direction would have made it worth the wait if nothing else. Swinging later or earlier is (and always was) a dumb way of choosing directions.

The core problem here is that the controls are based on gestures (which requires time integration) rather than instantaneous position and velocity.  Thus the brain has to compensate for the time lag AND the Wii has to differentiate small differences (sure, you could map more motions, but they would be less realistic).  This is not a human problem; it's a technology problem.
Note: I have not played this game; I'm inferring based on other experience.

I remember someone at Nintendo saying that Wii Sports Tennis recognizes over 100 different swings... of course most are subtle variations on forehand/backhand.

Mop it upMarch 13, 2009

Quote from: Pale

How on earth do you think Wii Sports Tennis use motions more effectively? It only has two different swings... forehand and backhand.

I haven't played Wii Sports Tennis in a while so I had to look it up. It has more than just forehand and backhand shots:

Forehand Topsin: Twist the Remote from the buttons facing up to the buttons
facing down.
Forehand Slice: Hold Remote with the face of it towards the sensor, followed by
swinging upwards and twist the remote away from the sensor.
Lob: Swing from a lower area to a higher area.
Backhand Topsin: Twist the Remote from the buttons facing down to the buttons
facing up.
Backhand Slice: Hold Remote with the face of it away the sensor, followed by
swinging upwards and twist the Remote towards the sensor.

The only shot it is missing is the flat shot, although I'm not sure whether or not how far you twist the Wiimote as you swing affects the amount of spin on it. I don't remember having a problem with it registering different shots than what I intended, but I'd need to play the game again to see how it works.
Since all Mario Power Tennis does is replace buttons with motions, it seems like it would have been easy to just set the Wiimote to recognize five distinct motions as opposed to making them as subtle as they currently are.

Besides, this is two years after Wii Sports so Nintendo should know how to get the controls to work in a tennis game.

Quote from: Morari

Proper detection of swing direction would have made it worth the wait if nothing else. Swinging later or earlier is (and always was) a dumb way of choosing directions.

I think it worked fine in Wii Sports Tennis because the game was designed with that in mind. For a game designed with a traditional controller in mind, it isn't going to work very well.

I'm confused. I thought this review took the position that the controls DO work--why is everyone saying they don't in a matter-of-fact way?

Anyway, you can move yourself in this game. That's a big difference between this game and Wii Sports Tennis.

Because he said that you have to train yourself to the controls and we're saying that's not a good thing.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 14, 2009

Quote from: MegaByte

Because he said that you have to train yourself to the controls and we're saying that's not a good thing.

How is learning to play a game and mastering it a bad thing?

Its understandable that people just want to play right away. But the Wii has proven that even though it takes some time motion controls can work and it becomes second nature.

If this review is to be believed, Mario Power Tennis can play well once you learn to play and master its controls.

So again, I don't understand how a learning curve can be a bad thing.

Because the point of motion controls is that they should just work intuitively.  Anything (e.g. button pressing) can become second nature with enough work.  If you're playing tennis and it does not work the same way as real tennis, then it's a failure of control even if you can eventually make it work.  Not broken does not equate to good control when we're talking about something specifically designed to mimic natural motion.  This is what we were promised for the Wii, but (with the exception of a few special cases like Kororinpa) this is what hasn't actually been possible until the MotionPlus.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 14, 2009

My point is that expecting a human controlled motion to work as precisely as a button is unrealistic due to the unrepeatability of a human motion.

For example, golf is a freaking hard sport! Why is it so hard? because it's next to impossible to repeat the exact same golf swing every time.

I think it's unrealistic to expect developers to somehow magically remove human error from the formula.


In Mario Power Tennis, the only "mistake" you have to be careful of is winding up your swing too rapidly because that often registers as a swing itself.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 14, 2009

Oh, and as for the supposed different swings in Wii Sports Tennis... is it terrible to say that I don't believe what they told us?

Let's just say if you can do all those different things, the ball flight isn't differentiated enough to make it worth while at all.

In Mario Power Tennis you can tell the difference, and not only because of the colored trails to label them. Top spin shots obviously bounce lower and faster. Back spin shots obviously float as they fly and bounce higher and shorter.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 14, 2009

And finally (sorry for the triple post) I don't suggest forming an opinion on this game after only a couple hours of gameplay. As I said in my review, I was not happy in the beginning, but the game really grew on me and I love it now.

Quote from: Pale

I think it's unrealistic to expect developers to somehow magically remove human error from the formula.

Of course it is.  But I'm wondering how much of this human error isn't human error at all, but retraining yourself to something that doesn't function quite as expected (given the fact that it took several hours to even like the game).

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMarch 14, 2009

Well it took several hours to get me to stop expecting the same level of precision I had in the n64 game.

Maybe I didn't articulate this well enough in the review, but the reason I was so taken by the game is that I did not feel the game wasn't functioning as it should.  I instead felt that I wasn't doing the motion's perfect every time.

There have been plenty of Wii games where I honestly think that the motion control is garbage and impossible. Banana Blitz comes to mind.

I think the difference is that in Power Tennis, when my character does the wrong thing, I can actually contemplate some ideas for how I could perform the swing better next time. In games where the controls suck, I would be at a loss.

As an example, there are moments in the game where I do not give the ball any top spin when I try.  I realized that part of the reason for this is that instead of consantly bringing the swing up, i often do a horizontal swing with an up loop at the end...

It's the fact that I had thought processes like this that amazed me about the game.

I guess I will need to pick this up and try for myself.  What I'm thinking now is that the games with poor gestures have trained us to expect to be able to "cheat" the system, but if you follow the motions properly, it will work consistently.  I remember having this feeling in one game that I played that where controls were generally panned, though I don't recall now which one.

Mop it upMarch 14, 2009

I don't expect the controls to be as precise as button presses, but this in itself creates a problem for this specific game. Mario Power Tennis was designed for buttons, and replacing them with motions does create a game which seems sloppy at first play.

The controls do work, but I don't feel they work as well as they could. In order to perform a straight shot, you have to swing the Wiimote perfectly horizontally. If you even so much as slightly tilt it up or down, it results in a topspin or slice shot. If the motion had some "wiggle room" where you could move it slightly up or down and still get a straight shot, it would be a lot easier to consistently hit the same type of shot.

There's nothing wrong with a learning curve, but in this game someone is unlikely to ever reach a point where one no longer make mistakes. This means that one will always feel like they could improve, yet it won't be possible.

Don't misunderstand me, I still think the game is good, but the controls could have been implemented better.

Quote from: Pale

Well it took several hours to get me to stop expecting the same level of precision I had in the n64 game.

Maybe I didn't articulate this well enough in the review, but the reason I was so taken by the game is that I did not feel the game wasn't functioning as it should.  I instead felt that I wasn't doing the motion's perfect every time.

There have been plenty of Wii games where I honestly think that the motion control is garbage and impossible. Banana Blitz comes to mind.

I think the difference is that in Power Tennis, when my character does the wrong thing, I can actually contemplate some ideas for how I could perform the swing better next time. In games where the controls suck, I would be at a loss.

As an example, there are moments in the game where I do not give the ball any top spin when I try.  I realized that part of the reason for this is that instead of consantly bringing the swing up, i often do a horizontal swing with an up loop at the end...

It's the fact that I had thought processes like this that amazed me about the game.

Yeah, this is basically the exact same thought process I went through with We Cheer.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 14, 2009

Just played a bit of this last night, and I'm not sure I'm feeling it just yet. Chessa, myself and my brother will probably play a bit more tonight and see if we like it any better.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 14, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

Quote from: Pale

Well it took several hours to get me to stop expecting the same level of precision I had in the n64 game.

Maybe I didn't articulate this well enough in the review, but the reason I was so taken by the game is that I did not feel the game wasn't functioning as it should.  I instead felt that I wasn't doing the motion's perfect every time.

There have been plenty of Wii games where I honestly think that the motion control is garbage and impossible. Banana Blitz comes to mind.

I think the difference is that in Power Tennis, when my character does the wrong thing, I can actually contemplate some ideas for how I could perform the swing better next time. In games where the controls suck, I would be at a loss.

As an example, there are moments in the game where I do not give the ball any top spin when I try.  I realized that part of the reason for this is that instead of consantly bringing the swing up, i often do a horizontal swing with an up loop at the end...

It's the fact that I had thought processes like this that amazed me about the game.

Yeah, this is basically the exact same thought process I went through with We Cheer.

The same can also be said about "Samba de Amigo" on Wii. Reviewers have bashed this game to hell and back, claiming it has horrible controls. But the thing is that many are playing it as if they were playing the original Samba on the DC when both games use vastly different methods of motion recognition. The original DC version had sensors in the maracas and the pad so it registered how high and low you were shaking the maracas. The Wii version recognizes how high and low you are tilting the Wii remote.

It feels weird playing at first, but once you understand what the game wants you to do its a piece of cake, even on the very hard levels. Speaking of which, the harder levels in "Samba de Amigo" is a test of hand/eye co-ordination since dots are flying everywhere and you need to hit them in the order and at the right height. I am 100% sure reviewers jumped right into this difficulty setting, expecting it to play exactly as in the original game and failed miserably, claiming the game had issues when it was really about the player.

I think this might be the issue with Power Tennis and why reviewers have been confused about it.

Mop it upMarch 14, 2009

Pap64, I think that's why IGN gave Mario Power Tennis a low score. The reviewer had played the original game and was probably expecting it to still play like the original but with motion control, and since it doesn't he ragged on it. I suppose having to relearn how to play the game in a different way doesn't sound so exciting to him like it does for the rest of us.

That said, people seem unanimous in stating that the minigames are practically unplayable. As such, it does seem like a valid complaint that the controls present some problems, though I don't think it's enough to dock the score down to 5.8. However, I have yet to play the minigames, and I'm wondering if even they can be adjusted to after extensive practice. I really need to put some more playtime into this game...

This game obviously isn't targeting the people who played the original, and that's why I think Pale's review is the most accurate and informative one so far.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Pap64, I think that's why IGN gave Mario Power Tennis a low score. The reviewer had played the original game and was probably expecting it to still play like the original but with motion control, and since it doesn't he ragged on it. I suppose having to relearn how to play the game in a different way doesn't sound so exciting to him like it does for the rest of us.

That said, people seem unanimous in stating that the minigames are practically unplayable. As such, it does seem like a valid complaint that the controls present some problems, though I don't think it's enough to dock the score down to 5.8. However, I have yet to play the minigames, and I'm wondering if even they can be adjusted to after extensive practice. I really need to put some more playtime into this game...

This game obviously isn't targeting the people who played the original, and that's why I think Pale's review is the most accurate and informative one so far.

Way back when the Wii was first shown at E3 2006 Red Steel, Twilight Princess and even Wii Sports impressions were all over the map. Fans either loved other or completely hated them. The opinion on controls varied greatly, with some saying that it worked great, others said that they were bad.

From that moment on, I realized that Wii reviews would always be mixed because people would have different opinions on controls. Even if the game has a slight learning curve some reviewers would be annoyed and say it controls badly, when the real problem is that the reviewer has yet to truly understand and master the game.

The reason why is because reviewers have a very limited time to review a game. They have a deadline to meet and its likely they have 2 to 3 hours worth of game time. This might be enough for some games, but for others they do require more time. It gets worse when the reviewers actually try to publish a review before the game ships.

Once more, I think this is why Mario Power Tennis reviews are everywhere right now. It seems that Pale was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with the game, as well as play with other people and was able to create a concise opinion of the game, while everyone else just seems to rush to it.

Not saying the game doesn't have issues, but it seems that the low scores are the results of rushed game time and not enough information.

StratosMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: pap64

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Pap64, I think that's why IGN gave Mario Power Tennis a low score. The reviewer had played the original game and was probably expecting it to still play like the original but with motion control, and since it doesn't he ragged on it. I suppose having to relearn how to play the game in a different way doesn't sound so exciting to him like it does for the rest of us.

That said, people seem unanimous in stating that the minigames are practically unplayable. As such, it does seem like a valid complaint that the controls present some problems, though I don't think it's enough to dock the score down to 5.8. However, I have yet to play the minigames, and I'm wondering if even they can be adjusted to after extensive practice. I really need to put some more playtime into this game...

This game obviously isn't targeting the people who played the original, and that's why I think Pale's review is the most accurate and informative one so far.

Way back when the Wii was first shown at E3 2006 Red Steel, Twilight Princess and even Wii Sports impressions were all over the map. Fans either loved other or completely hated them. The opinion on controls varied greatly, with some saying that it worked great, others said that they were bad.

From that moment on, I realized that Wii reviews would always be mixed because people would have different opinions on controls. Even if the game has a slight learning curve some reviewers would be annoyed and say it controls badly, when the real problem is that the reviewer has yet to truly understand and master the game.

The reason why is because reviewers have a very limited time to review a game. They have a deadline to meet and its likely they have 2 to 3 hours worth of game time. This might be enough for some games, but for others they do require more time. It gets worse when the reviewers actually try to publish a review before the game ships.

Once more, I think this is why Mario Power Tennis reviews are everywhere right now. It seems that Pale was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with the game, as well as play with other people and was able to create a concise opinion of the game, while everyone else just seems to rush to it.

Not saying the game doesn't have issues, but it seems that the low scores are the results of rushed game time and not enough information.

But then how much time is enough time. If it can vary from game to game as you say, where is the line reasonably drawn? I know that in writing you need to grab readers by the initial hook lest you lose your them. How long is enough time to determine if a game is good or not? Five hours? Ten? Can we hope to ever try and come up with a good amount of time?

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 15, 2009

A year.

But all kidding aside, a week should be enough for a reviewer to play through most of the game. I think it can be accomplished in less time. In my case, I was able to understand "Samba de Amigo" in an evening of play, and what I learned was re-inforced through multiple plays.

StratosMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: pap64

A year.

But all kidding aside, a week should be enough for a reviewer to play through most of the game. I think it can be accomplished in less time. In my case, I was able to understand "Samba de Amigo" in an evening of play, and what I learned was re-inforced through multiple plays.

So it is probably more of a fault on most game journalism sites where they feel the need to speed out reviews sooner than the competition and even get the reviews out before game launch (at the expense of poor spelling and grammar, they are in such a hurry that I swear some sites don't even click the spellchecker button before they submit it to the site for publishing). It's a pity games like Power Tennis suffer from it though.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Quote from: pap64

A year.

But all kidding aside, a week should be enough for a reviewer to play through most of the game. I think it can be accomplished in less time. In my case, I was able to understand "Samba de Amigo" in an evening of play, and what I learned was re-inforced through multiple plays.

So it is probably more of a fault on most game journalism sites where they feel the need to speed out reviews sooner than the competition and even get the reviews out before game launch (at the expense of poor spelling and grammar, they are in such a hurry that I swear some sites don't even click the spellchecker button before they submit it to the site for publishing). It's a pity games like Power Tennis suffer from it though.

Don't forget that certain companies WANT a game to be reviewed as soon as possible, because if the review is positive it might push game sales up.

Games are not like movies in which you just watch them for a couple of hours, then jolt down opinions and write a review based on that. There are some games that simply can't be enjoyed in just a few hours of gameplay.

StratosMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: pap64

Quote from: Stratos

Quote from: pap64

A year.

But all kidding aside, a week should be enough for a reviewer to play through most of the game. I think it can be accomplished in less time. In my case, I was able to understand "Samba de Amigo" in an evening of play, and what I learned was re-inforced through multiple plays.

So it is probably more of a fault on most game journalism sites where they feel the need to speed out reviews sooner than the competition and even get the reviews out before game launch (at the expense of poor spelling and grammar, they are in such a hurry that I swear some sites don't even click the spellchecker button before they submit it to the site for publishing). It's a pity games like Power Tennis suffer from it though.

Don't forget that certain companies WANT a game to be reviewed as soon as possible, because if the review is positive it might push game sales up.

Games are not like movies in which you just watch them for a couple of hours, then jolt down opinions and write a review based on that. There are some games that simply can't be enjoyed in just a few hours of gameplay.

I also notice the opposite for games that are quite poor. Publishers either send review copies late or not at all if they know it will get a bad score.

Quote from: pap64

Way back when the Wii was first shown at E3 2006 Red Steel, Twilight Princess and even Wii Sports impressions were all over the map. Fans either loved other or completely hated them. The opinion on controls varied greatly, with some saying that it worked great, others said that they were bad.

There was a different reason for this, though.  At E3 2006, Nintendo hadn't finalized the Remote sensitivity yet, making it hard to play some games well (which is really bad for these time-limited impressions).

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: MegaByte

Quote from: pap64

Way back when the Wii was first shown at E3 2006 Red Steel, Twilight Princess and even Wii Sports impressions were all over the map. Fans either loved other or completely hated them. The opinion on controls varied greatly, with some saying that it worked great, others said that they were bad.

There was a different reason for this, though.  At E3 2006, Nintendo hadn't finalized the Remote sensitivity yet, making it hard to play some games well (which is really bad for these time-limited impressions).

That's what I said back then too; that people shouldn't judge the overall quality of the Wii based on early demos. But even then, the difference in impressions was astounding.

Well, it was Nintendo's fault for pushing "playing = believing" so hard.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 15, 2009

Quote from: MegaByte

Well, it was Nintendo's fault for pushing "playing = believing" so hard.

Not really, because even after Nintendo fixed all of the faults seen at E3 2006 people still seemed to have issues, many which were later proved wrong by gamers and other media outlets.

It all boiled down to the player and his/her ability to pick up on the gameplay.

I don't think that the idea that playing = believing is wrong, per se. I just wonder sometimes whether people are actually "playing" the games to begin with.

Actually, I think the idea was spot on.  They just hadn't worked out all of the details yet.

Mop it upMarch 15, 2009

That's why I prefer reviews from independent sites like this one. It isn't the reviewer's job to write reviews so the reviewer doesn't really have anything to benefit or "gain" from it, they write reviews because they are passionate about videogames and love to express their opinions; I can also trust them to be honest because of that. On top of that, since they don't have a strict deadline to follow or a huge stack of games to plow through, they can spend more time on a single game which will help better gauge its longevity or discover any problems which may not be apparent after just an hour or two of playtime. Of course, this means the review may not be published before the game is released, but does that really matter? I rarely buy games on their release dates, and it would seem to me that anyone who plans to buy a game on release wouldn't be swayed by reviews anyway, if they even read any.

StratosMarch 16, 2009

There are people who chomp at the bit to see a review from a preferred site before running out and instantly buying it if the score meets a minimum threshold.

NWR doesn't seem to be one of those sites. I, like you, don't buy games on launch day and I take a number of reviews and impressions into account and any demos if possible when making a purchase decision. I do place a higher weight on the actual content of the review versus the number breakdown. I like how NWR puts the number at the bottom unlike IGN where I have to cover my screen of shrink my browser size to block the number until the end.

I have grown very intrigued in the art of review composition over the past year and so I pay more attention to the words the Staff here writes about games. They put a lot of effort into these and I have grown to appreciate well written and well thought out reviews. This one answers questions I had concerning the game (especially the controls) and reviews that answer reader's questions and concerns are preferred to me.

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New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Camelot Software Planning
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis
Release Mar 09, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Wii de Asobu Mario Tennis GC
Release Jan 15, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis
Release Mar 06, 2009
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis
Release Mar 26, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral
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