3DS

North America

Mario Tennis Open

by Neal Ronaghan - May 10, 2012, 10:59 am PDT
Total comments: 31

7.5

Camelot returns to Mario sports with a game that hits nearly as often as it misses.

Mario Tennis Open is a puzzler. On one hand, it’s a great tennis game that, much like its predecessors, is simple to grasp but also has depth. On the other, there just isn’t much to it. With a lack of strong single-player content, Open’s focus is shifted onto multiplayer, which, given how poor the online turned out, is disappointing.

The single-player content included is stretched to its limit, but it’s still fun. There are several tournaments of increasing difficulty to play through in both singles and doubles matches. During these tournaments, you unlock rackets and items of clothing for later purchase, but you don’t build up anything used to actually buy the gear. That’s where the Special Games come in. These mini-games, consisting of Ring Shot, Super Mario Tennis, Galaxy Rally, and Ink Showdown, are focused on improving aspects of your tennis game, and get pretty challenging in their later stages. Sadly, they also end quickly. Considering how much unlockable gear Open features, the game expects you to replay the Special Games ad nauseam.

The unlock system is oddly circular, requiring you to bounce between Tournaments and Special Games to unlock the ability to buy gear and build the funds to do so. It feels like an artificial lengthening of the game to make up for the deficiency in content. Even more frustrating: The only thing the gear does is afford your Mii a variety of clothing options. If you don’t want to play as your Mii, there is no reason to bother unlocking all of the gear.

It’s worth noting that the coveted RPG mode wouldn’t have fixed the issues with the single-player experience. Open contains all the content you’d expect from an RPG mode (unlockables, different play modes, upgrades/customization), but just puts a different hat on it. It’s streamlined, though that doesn’t really make it better or worse.

 

The controls are also streamlined when you use the gyro control method. Activated whenever you hold the system upright, your character automatically moves around, allowing you to plan your shot while you direct it by tilting the system. It's kind of cool how smoothly it integrates in the game (it even turns off the 3D), but it's not an optimal way to play Mario Tennis, especially since the 3DS version's normal controls are wonderful. Fortunately, for people who like to play the game while lying down or in another position where the system is held upright, this feature can be turned off.

Open’s multiplayer, which thankfully features single-card play, has potential, mostly if you know other people with 3DS systems. My experience with the online portion was disappointing, both because of lag and because of the limitations. There is a leaderboard and a Mario Kart-esque points system, but it still feels hollow, offering nothing more than quick or long exhibition matches. It doesn’t feature the Community aspect that was so cool in Mario Kart 7, and there are no tournaments to be found online.

 

Mario Tennis Open is a lot of fun, there is no doubt about that, but the small amount of content in the game makes the experience lackluster. Still, while I saw most of what the game had to offer in four hours, I kept on playing. Despite the lack of content, the game of tennis Camelot has crafted is addictive and fun. It might not hold a candle to the handheld Mario Tennis games in the Game Boy lineage, but Mario Tennis Open is a still great game that is sadly hampered by a small feature set and harebrained online.

Summary

Pros
  • Fantastic arcade gameplay
  • Great multiplayer under the right circumstances
  • Tons of unlockable rackets and clothing for your Mii
Cons
  • Lag-ridden and simplistic online experience
  • Not much content
  • Odd unlock system

Talkback

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterMay 10, 2012

Man online is all I was buying it for. Hmmm...

5kytarMay 10, 2012

I have like 2 or 3 other Mario tennis games to enjoy. I kind of don't need this. Especially if the online is really lame.

While you make a good point on the upgrades and stuff, my personal reasons for wanting an RPG mode were to have a story of some kind to add 4-5 enjoyable hours to the 4-5 or whatever you already played.

Taking it out streamlines the general mechanics, but still removes the cookie-cutter plot that would have been pretty enjoyable regardless. Whatever you want to call it, I disagree that its inclusion would have made no difference.

FZeroBoyoMay 10, 2012

Perhaps the press could mention the online problems to Nintendo? They can send out patches now, so maybe it  could be fixed...?


That aside, the game looks pretty fun; I'm certainly keeping an eye on it.

"You're a rookie tennis player. Go play random people until you eventually go to the Mario World."
This isn't even on the Super Smash Bros. level of storytelling. If that mode doubled the length of the game, I would not finish it.

Playing this game made me realize that I believe people who crave this RPG mode so much look back on it with rose-colored glasses. They basically gave you the gameplay from that mode and removed the unnecessary dialog, which I guess some people dug.

People should push for Namco to re-release World Court Tennis (TG-16) on the Virtual Console. That's a real tennis RPG.

Quote from: NWR_Neal

"You're a rookie tennis player. Go play random people until you eventually go to the Mario World."
This isn't even on the Super Smash Bros. level of storytelling. If that mode doubled the length of the game, I would not finish it.

Playing this game made me realize that I believe people who crave this RPG mode so much look back on it with rose-colored glasses. They basically gave you the gameplay from that mode and removed the unnecessary dialog, which I guess some people dug.

I SERIOUSLY disagree with that. SSE was Mario Kart levels of bad single player, if not even more boring. Power Tour was fun and had a really fun story. Was it cookie-cutter content? Yup. No question. But at least it actually was content. Oh, and having generic people I don't care about doesn't bother me, considering that's how I look at every single Mii. Even my own. And as far as I'm concerned, Luma is just as stupid a character choice as a nameless person.

You're entitled to your opinion, but Lumas are freaking adorable.

From my time with Mario Golf and Mario Tennis on GBA, I honestly can't remember a damn thing about the story. I don't remember it being fun or memorable. Smash Bros, on the other hand, at least had some cool moments, like when Captain Falcon slaughtered Pikmin and stuff.


I don't want to be that dude dropping his blog in this, but this post sums up how much I value moments in stories, especially when they feature iconic characters. If you differ from that, that's okay. I just don't remember the story being the reason why I enjoyed the RPG mode in both games.

MataataMay 10, 2012

Quote from: NWR_Neal

From my time with Mario Golf and Mario Tennis on GBA, I honestly can't remember a damn thing about the story. I don't remember it being fun or memorable. Smash Bros, on the other hand, at least had some cool moments, like when Captain Falcon slaughtered Pikmin and stuff.

1. Lumas ARE freaking adorable. That is extremely true.
2. Another cool moment in SSBB: When Lucario found Snake hiding under the box. That made me laugh for a while.

Does the gameplay feel more like the n64 version?

Quote from: Webmalfunction

Quote from: NWR_Neal

"You're a rookie tennis player. Go play random people until you eventually go to the Mario World."
This isn't even on the Super Smash Bros. level of storytelling. If that mode doubled the length of the game, I would not finish it.

Playing this game made me realize that I believe people who crave this RPG mode so much look back on it with rose-colored glasses. They basically gave you the gameplay from that mode and removed the unnecessary dialog, which I guess some people dug.

I SERIOUSLY disagree with that. SSE was Mario Kart levels of bad single player, if not even more boring. Power Tour was fun and had a really fun story. Was it cookie-cutter content? Yup. No question. But at least it actually was content. Oh, and having generic people I don't care about doesn't bother me, considering that's how I look at every single Mii. Even my own. And as far as I'm concerned, Luma is just as stupid a character choice as a nameless person.

Maybe you guys aren't talking so much about the story, but the framework and guided experience a story provides?

RilfMay 11, 2012

Hey Neal, how bad was the lag while you were playing online? I just played online and there was no lag whatsoever! It felt like I was playing in single player.

It was pretty consistently poor with the multiple people I played with. Also, the fact that it's just Exhibition and single ranked matches isn't compelling.

house3136May 11, 2012

I’m wondering if this Mario sports title was moved up in the schedule, therefore lacking somewhat in content, to allow Luigi’s Mansion and Paper Mario to sit on the back burner a little longer; and push them past E3 to set firm dates. With unannounced games coming into the market, after their reveal next month, games announced last year must be released within the next two quarters.

RilfMay 11, 2012

Quote from: NWR_Neal

It was pretty consistently poor with the multiple people I played with. Also, the fact that it's just Exhibition and single ranked matches isn't compelling.

I see. Last night I had a very laggy match but that changed today. I wonder if they made some changes/improvements on the servers or something. I completely agree with the lack of variety in Online Mode though.

xcwarriorMay 11, 2012

Ouchies. That's a really nice score for a pretty rough review. I think I'll pass, or wait until I see it for like $15. I figured without RPG elements this game might be lackluster, and it sounds it.

I find your reaction funny, xcwarrior. I thought my review wasn't that rough, because I do come back around to the point that, though I have my issues with it, I'm still playing the hell out of it.

I'll fully admit that I'm playing it a bunch because I haven't played a Mario Tennis game since like 2008, but even still: this game is super fun. It is flawed, but I really enjoy this game. If you like Mario Tennis games, it's totally worthwhile.

Had some trade in credit and an unused MK7 preorder at Gamestop, so I just preordered it, per your half-hearted recommendation. I made the decision after thinking about how many fun games I've played that were full priced but only offered 5 hours or less playtime.


I feel like having the Activity Log (to judge everything) is a curse more than a feature to me.

Activity Log makes me realize how little of individual games I play compared to others. Outside of Ocarina and Kid Icarus, I haven't put more than 20 hours into any other 3DS game. Hell, outside of those two and MK7/Mario 3D Land, I haven't put more than 15 hours into a 3DS game.

Duuuuuuude. You gotta five star 3D Land. Doing so is more of a blast than you think (even flagpoling--I'm assuming you haven't 5 starred it yet because you're under 20 hours, but I could be wrong). Hell, I might even say that 3D Land is the best 3DS game in my collection, after I've started to pick it up again (now at 28 hours). Mario Kart is also getting a bit of a renaissance, going from 8-11.5 in a week or so. Kid Icarus, even though a great game, has not inspired much replaying once I hit 23.5 hours. I just...feel like I've had enough (for now, I suppose). It's the other games that concern me.

-Nintendogs got 29 hours because it was my launch game
-Zelda got 50 hours because it's fucking awesome (seriously, pick that up again. that game is still horribly impressive for a handheld Zelda, even if a remake-port)
-Rumble Blast was a rent and got 19 hours because of how beefy it is

But outside of that, everything else teeters around 10 hours and is just "okay". Except Steel Diver, which earned 5 hours, and Samurai Warriors, which got only 3 because it sucks.

Mop it upMay 13, 2012

The reason I liked the RPG mode is because you gained experience points from matches and slowly but steadily increased the abilities of your character. Since videogames are so much easier to play than real tennis, learning to play well happens much faster; the character building made it feel more like I was progressing in the game at a more real pace. Though, I wanted the RPG mode to focus on Mario characters rather than generic ones, and the fact that this game uses Miis is even worse. The mode has a lot of unrealized potential.

I'm curious though, what do these upgrades do that you mentioned?

RankJunkieMay 13, 2012

This is one of those games that I am glad I have a kid.  I can buy it for them and play it  :Q

Since finishing the review, Mario Tennis has become a great chill game. I've managed to clock in at over 10 hours in it just by going through the tournaments with other characters. The AI gets pretty challenging, and I'm really enjoying it.

This game has flaws, but as I said in the review, if you want to play some Mario-themed tennis, this is top-notch for that.

ToraMay 16, 2012

Mario tennis is a franchise I really like.  The lack of RPG mode is a little sad, but I guess it's okay since it is MARIO TENNIS, and the RPG mode just let you play as some generic kid.  I really didn't like GBA MT game because you couldn't actually use Mario characters for the stronger portion of the game.  Still It looks like a must buy,  once I get a 3DS.  I hope the online isn't THAT lag ridden.

scikoolaidMay 18, 2012

I was hoping there would be double play online. :( Good thing I only ever Fancied the Mario Tennis for N64, I can do without this.

Played for a few hours today, some early impressions:

-Gyro control is easy mode. As Diddy (my current main, if you can have one two hours in), playing Bowser in the Banana Cup singles final round was reduced to pressing x at the right time. When the bomb shot appeared, I got a point. That was it.
-Matches go on way too fucking long in the final round
-The Mario minigame is cool, but I suck at it hard
-The Luma minigame is not much fun
-Very good looking so far
-Where the hell is QR option? I can't find anything in the game allowing me to start it up

Pretty fun otherwise. It's just some good Tennis, which is exactly the impression I got at PAX. I also remember telling you at PAX that this was going to be bare bones. It looks like that is also true.

Tybo68May 22, 2012

I've played about six hours now and I've played eleven matches online and won them all. I experienced minimal lag in less than half the matches and I totally agree with the notion that the online should be way better than the options they give you, but I'm enjoying the mode more than I thought I would. If you have enough friends you can play doubles online though. The fact you only get coins in the special games is my biggest gripe, I understand tournaments unlock the items but you should be able to build your coins while making that progress, I'm going to be done with the game well before I'll be able to unlock the mii gear. Otherwise I'm having a really fun Mario tennis binge that isn't crashing just yet.

Now that more people are online, my opinion of it still hasn't changed. It's super limited and I run into regular latency. Sometimes its awful, sometimes its passable. Most of the time it's just off enough that I feel like I'm worse than I actually am because my character moves a fraction of a second slower than my movements.

NeoStar9XMay 22, 2012

I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying this.  This is the first Mario Tennis game for me. I might have played the N64 at some point but don't really remember if I did or not. I'm taking this game as a play at anytime type of game. Not one to complete but one to play when I want to jump in for a quick match or to. Something I wanted to do with Mario Kart 7 but this feels more fair. Not random like in MK7 do to the powers. There seems to be a level of strategy I can employ here, at least so far. I wish the game did more to explain the powers of the various items but I think I sort of understand it now.

Not sure if I'll take this online. At least not until I unlock a LOT more items for my Mii or figure out what character works best for me.

Blitzace10May 24, 2012

I got this on release day and have to say that I kinda like it.

SPP25June 28, 2012

If they had the single player rpg story added with the multiplayer then it would have been an ace for me.  I'm sure if you took a poll the vast majority would agree.

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Mario Tennis Open Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Camelot Software Planning

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Tennis Open
Release May 20, 2012
PublisherNintendo
jpn: Mario Tennis Open
Release May 24, 2012
PublisherNintendo
eu: Mario Tennis Open
Release May 25, 2012
PublisherNintendo

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