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GBA

North America

Mario Tennis: Power Tour

by Stan Ferguson - December 12, 2005, 9:22 pm PST

10

Mario gives all GBA doubters a Power Shot to the head, as this game proves the system still has life left in it.

This game is significant. Mario Tennis Power Tour for the GBA is easily one of the best games made for the system (if not for other systems). It’s beautifully constructed, funny, and exciting. It is simply jam-packed with the joy of gaming.

The single player game (likes its GBC predecessor) is an RPG. You select your character (a boy or a girl), name him/her, and choose whether you’re right or left handed. The game begins in earnest at a central “home” area where you can save and switch between Singles or Doubles play. From then on, you’ll have certain stats to build, depending on the style of play you want to progress in, and you can balance that out by customizing your doubles partner’s stats in other fields.

The RPG aspect of the game is lighthearted and infused with innocently fierce competition. There’s no great evil threatening to destroy the land, just a tennis tournament to work your way through. Each time you progress, gaining more and more experience points, you’ll want to go further until you eventually reach Mario World to compete with the best. Yes, for some odd reason, the game uses “Mario World” rather than “Mushroom Kingdom.” My only hypothesis regarding this is that Mario just took over the entire planet after having saved it so often.

The look of the game is undeniably gorgeous. The backgrounds are cheerfully colorful, and the sprites are nicely detailed. The animations are fluid within the matches, and the ranges of emotions of the characters are hilariously expressed through either body language or icons appearing over their heads.

The controls are responsive and work smoothly, as the setup is simple and accessible, while allowing for a depth of strategy. For example, deciding to use either a slice or topspin hit depends on whether or not your character is left or right handed, where you and your opponent are located on the court, and the ball's current location. Plus, button combos allow for an even deeper layer of strategy.

There is one minor complaint I have about the single player game, and that’s the lack of cutscenes in Mario World. When you finally get to compete there, it’s as if you’d just opened the doors to the Land of Oz. I spent so much time working to get there that I wanted to savor it. But really, that’s insignificant; this game is more than I hoped it would be.

What I absolutely love in Mario Tennis is the AI on both sides of the court. The other teams have weaknesses you can exploit, but every doubles and singles match is different, giving you the opportunity to build your skills both offensively and defensively. As for your doubles partner, while he may occasionally miss, he doesn’t do so with any great frequency. You will rely on him quite often, which provides a wonderful sense of teamwork.

However, what would a game be if it were only a single player tennis RPG? Well, I’ll tell you what, my friend, this game comes loaded with several fun (but hard as nails) mini-games that you can unlock and use to build up experience or Power Shot points so that you can bring your A-game to the court. Oh yes, if you need a little boost on the court, try developing your jumping skills by breaking blocks before they move from one side of the screen to the other (complete with the 8 -bit Super Mario Bros. jumping sound effect).

Then there are the exhibition games. From the onset, you’re able to simply pick up and play a few doubles or singles matches. You can play as any of the originally available characters, plus those you have added on during the RPG mode. While there are many, many unlockable characters, there are, sadly, no more Mario-land characters to unlock. It’s a fairly meager cast in that aspect but certainly not a detriment to the gameplay.

In short: I love this game. Love it. It gives me a sense of exuberance that I feel is so rare in modern games. It brings everything into the fold: competition, accomplishment, skill, and story (however light); and it does all these magnificently.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
10 8 10 10 9 10
Graphics
10

The game is brimming with a glee that’s evident in its visual style. It’s a childlike (but not childish) style that I honestly believe only Nintendo and the best Disney cartoons have really captured.

Sound
8

While the sound does nothing spectacular, it serves its purpose well, and the music carries the happy-go-lucky feel of the game, while giving a little more gravitas to the beginning of the matches. The sound effects give added weight or amusement to your actions, particularly in matches and mini-games.

Control
10

Perfect. The controls add so much depth to the game that improving your skills isn’t simply a matter of leveling up your character. What’s more, they’re laid out so well that accomplishing great feats is a simple matter so long as you know what you want to do.

Gameplay
10

This game is fun! There’s always a challenge and you’ll never feel as if you’re being cheated. When playing doubles, your partner is as good as you make him/her out to be, and working as a team is enjoyable and never a chore.

Lastability
9

The single player aspect of the game is short-lived, but you can continue on building your character. Completing the mini-games is optional, but they have four levels, each significantly tougher than the last. Then there’s the exhibition mode for quick singles or doubles matches. Of course, there is multiplayer available, and I recommend annoying your friends into submission (if you must) until they buy this game so that you can enjoy it together.

Final
10

Yes, it is that great. I’m not saying so because I have a love for handheld tennis games (I don’t care much for tennis, truth be told). But, Mario Tennis Power Tour came into my life, stole my heart, and now I believe I’m eternally committed for richer or poorer.

Summary

Pros
  • Appealing visuals and animation
  • Deep RPG style gameplay
  • Excellent AI
  • Rich overall experience
Cons
  • Only a short time spent in Mario World
  • Small cast of Mario World characters
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Mario Power Tennis Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Camelot Software Planning
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Tennis: Power Tour
Release Dec 05, 2005
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Mario Tennis Advance
Release Sep 13, 2005
PublisherNintendo
eu: Mario Power Tennis
Release Nov 18, 2005
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
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