Mario Tennis by Mr. Tito

December 18, 2002

There is a steady argument in the video
game world about tennis games. Which is the best? Many argue
that the Dreamcast produced the best tennis game in Virtua Tennis,
which featured real life movements, lifelike graphics, and great
sound. I heavily disagree, given a certain Nintendo 64 game released
during the system’s final heyday.

I’d argue that Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64
was the best tennis game EVER! Of course, I’m said to be a Mario
franchise worshipper, but I played tennis in high school and I appreciate
the movements capable in this game. Using the famous analog stick,
you can just feel yourself being on the court. It’s amazing how
you can make your player do a 360 in just a moment with the controls.
Also adding to the realism is the nasty computer looking at your
movements. If you hesitate a move one way, the computer will fire
a shot the other way.

The game is based on Mario characters. The opening sequence features
a video on the Mario brothers arguing with Wario, only to have a
BRAND NEW character debut in this game named Waluigi, and
evil version of Luigi. Of course, he’s not to evil, as he’s too
tall to hit sinking topspin shots when you do play against him.

I do, however, dislike the game’s choice of how you beat this
game. You have a singles tournament and a doubles tournament, in
which you go through the usual Mario Kart like Mushroom Cup, Flower
Cup, and Star Cup to win. It’s easy to beat, given that the computer
isn’t on its top level of play, the famous Intense mode. Winning
the Doubles and Singles tournaments will unlock 2 characters, Shyguy
and Donkey Kong Jr.

That’s it. For someone playing this game on their own, that’s
all there is to accomplish. If they want to find some great replay
value, they’ll have to have the drive within themselves to find
something to do. I beat all of the ring sections and then challenged
myself to beat all of the players when set on Intense mode. Intense
mode is the highest difficulty setting for a computer player, and
let me tell you, Intense is the best word for it. The computer can
sense any slight movement you make before they hit the ball, and
you’ll experience long volleys in this mode. Beating every character
in Intense mode is quite a challenge.

Well, I guess there are plenty of courts to unlock when using
certain players, but that will only take maybe an hour with every
character to do.

This game is best played with multiple players. The Ring battle
royale is a fantastic thing, especially with 4 controllers attached
to the console. I’m not too crazy about the Bowser Castle tennis
court, which has a ridiculous use of Mario Kart weapons and a moving
court that can get annoying.

To argue that it’s the best tennis game is rather easy. For every
court, there’s a different surface on each that can greatly affect
gameplay. Some courts cater to the players with weak power, some
courts favor power players. T
he shots you can choose from are slice,
topspin, smash, dropshot, or lob. There’s an art to each shot, as
positioning is of great importance and timing on hitting the shot
is as well. You have other features like if you’re close to the
net and someone fires a hard shot at you, you WILL get hit with
the ball. Also stuff like jumping for a high shot, diving for a
out of reach shot, and some very real like serving really make this
game have a great tennis feel.

CONCLUSION: I love this game. Of course, I enjoy
the sport of tennis. The simple fact that the game consists of Mario
characters is meaningless, as the game’s developers were going to
make this style of game with Mario characters or not. The movement
of the players and their abilities to hit the ball makes this game
the most real feeling tennis game around, at least through the controller.
Now if the graphics had realism, that would be another story.

TITO STATS(0 to 5 scale)
Graphics: 3.5
Sound: 4.0
Control: 5.0
Challenge: 3.0, but 4.0 for Intense mode
Fun Factor: 4.5