FAQ/Walkthrough by super_luigi16
Version: 1.21 | Updated: 09/12/13
Table of Contents
- Playing Tennis
- Special Games
- Appendix A: Unlockables
- Appendix B: The Item Shop
- Appendix C: Characters
- Legal Info
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The latest installment into the Mario Tennis franchise blends the old with the new; there is still that Mario Tennis feel of volleying the ball back and forth with well-timed button mashes, but there is also that new dimension of customization, new courts and unlockables, gameplay, online modes, and updated tournaments. This FAQ is intended to help you with everything from unlockables to tournaments, new content to online play. If you have a question, I've probably answered it in one form or another in this FAQ. Everything is organized for your convenience with the Table of Contents on the top-right of every page and with hyperlinks added to help you jump from section-to-related-section. If you want to read up on the game in general, continue reading from start-to-finish; if you want info or help on a specific aspect of the game, use the TOC to your advantage. Also, if you find that something is missing, misleading, or inaccurate in this guide, please jump on down to the Contributing section to let me know. So, without further fanfare, onward to the actual content!
Mario Tennis Open has introduced a lot of content, and this section is intended to list as many of them as possible. If it hasn't been seen in Tennis before, it can be found here!
- Baby Mario
- Baby Peach
- Dry Bowser
- QR Characters
- Chance Shots
- Tennis Gear
- Tennis Courts
- Special Games
- Ring Shot
- Super Mario Tennis
- Galaxy Rally
- Ink Showdown
- Online Mode
However, some things have been removed from Mario Tennis Open that were in Mario Tennis: Power Tour or other earlier installments. This content has been listed in this section for your use. Also, let me stress that I only include content that was part of previous games, not part of any wish-list of mine or any other person.
- Koopa Troopa
- Shy Guy
- Fly Guy
- Petey Piranha
- Tennis Courts
- Power Shots
- Item Battle
- Special Games
- Artist On the Court
- Balloon Panic
- Chain Chomp Challenge
- Gooper Blooper Volley
- Mecha-Bowser Mayhem
- Terror Tennis
- Coin Collectors
In this section, I'll lay out all of the controls needed to work through Mario Tennis Open. Of course, you can either use the button interface by pressing combinations of buttons, or you can use a stylus (which I believe is much easier). The button interface has a tendency to confuse itself during a tennis match due to the fact that an "A" to "B" combo looks very much like a "B" to "A" combo. Anyways, controls for Tennis are rather straightforward; you shouldn't have a problem mastering them.
The Main Menu
This practically applies to any menu you'll ever find in Mario Tennis Open. If it's a menu, you can use these buttons to navigate it.
With a Stylus
|Tap Menu Bar||Select Option|
Without a Stylus
|Circle Pad||Move Cursor/Switch Options|
On the Court
Again, there are a couple different ways to setup your controls while playing a match. Mario Tennis Open, like most recent Nintendo releases, gives you a wide array of options and setups to choose from, and you have the liberty of choosing whichever combination you want. This section will attempt to help you determine which viewpoint is right for you, and how you want to return the ball in general.
Normal View vs. Dynamic View
Dynamic View in Mario Tennis Open
The difference between these two largely have to deal with how you're going to view the game. Dynamic View automatically comes into effect when you hold your 3DS up as if it was right in front of, or above, you (gyro controls must also be enabled). Your view of the match will switch from an overhead vantage point to a first person-esque view. In Dynamic View, you can use the circle pad to aim, but you must also move the 3DS in front of you (as if you were a sniper with scope) to aim. Also, your view will also be limited to what's directly in front of you; you won't be able to see chance shot circles behind you, or lob shots above you. However, Dynamic View makes it easier to gauge your shots (especially if you play tennis regularly) due to the perception of depth, and the feeling of actually being in the match. Also note that Dynamic View will often automatically move your character to get closer to chance shot circles and/or the tennis ball.
Normal View is enabled when you are either holding the 3DS below you (flat or otherwise angled) or if you have gyro controls disabled. This view will give you an overhead angle of the match where you have more appreciation for everything that is going on around your character. You have more control over your shots (though you may only aim with the circle pad), and it's often easier to see the entirety of the court to make the correct shot. However, you must move your character to position yourself for each shot, and you don't get the added depth of Dynamic View.
Normal View in Mario Tennis Open
Making the choice between the two modes is often pretty easy, and rests on one easy decision. Do you like or feel comfortable with moving your 3DS in the air to aim? If you answered yes, you should be fine with Dynamic View. It'll take a little while to nail down the coordination between aim and shot, but you should be able to compete capably with Dynamic View. However, if you answered no, you should definitely use Normal View. It'll be hard to compete in more skilled matches due to your lack of aiming abilities. In this FAQ, I try to take a more general approach as to how you should play (neither assuming that you are using Dynamic View or that you are using Normal View), and I don't really make any specific advice in regard to one view or another. The one thing I will note here is that it is often easier to play regular tennis matches in Normal View and it is easier to complete the Special Games in Dynamic View, but using the other view should not hinder your ability to compete or complete in any way.
There are also two ways to control your shots on the court, so I'll list each of those out here. Generally, I recommend using a stylus because it is so much easier and consistent than attempting to string buttons together in the correct order. It is often tricky to discern between an "A" then "B" combo and a "B" then "A" combo (which are two very different shots). However, neither setup should impede you from being able to compete as long as you master it appropriately.
Before the Match
|Circle Pad||Move Laterally|
|"L"/"R"||Switch shot panel|
|Tap Button/Press Button||Toss Ball Up|
|Tap Button/Press Button||Make Shot|
|Circle Pad (while ball is in air)||Aim Shot|
With a Stylus
|Circle Pad (not charging)||Move Character|
|Circle Pad (charging)||Aim Shot|
|Move 3DS (Dynamic View Only)||Aim Shot|
|Tap Button (while near ball)||Make Shot|
|Tap Button (while away from ball)||Taunt + Charge|
|Repeatedly Tap Button (while preparing to hit ball)||Charge|
|"L" (charging)||Cancel Charge|
|"L" (not charging; doubles only)||"Got It" is displayed above your character|
Without a Stylus
|Circle Pad (not charging)||Move Character|
|Circle Pad (charging)||Aim Shot|
|"A" --> "B"||Lob Shot|
|"B" --> "A"||Drop Shot|
|"L" (charging)||Cancel Charge|
|"L" (not charging; doubles only)||"Got It" is displayed above your character|
After the Point
|Tap Button||Replay/Cancel Replay/Close-Up Replay|
|"A" --> "B" (normal points only)||Close-Up Replay|
The advanced shot panel.
From this point forward in the FAQ, I'll assume that you're using the more advanced shot panel with all of the different shots on it. If you don't use it, you will be at a severe disadvantage due to your lack of ability to use flat, lob, or drop shots. Once you change your shot panel to the more complete one in the tutorial, it should stay like that for every subsequent match; you shouldn't change it for any reason whatsoever.
This is the main "walkthrough" portion of the guide, since I'll be dispensing some notable advice in this section about how to play Mario Tennis Open capably. First I'll roll through the general stuff about tennis, then through the more basic techniques, and finally the advanced stuff that'll help you compete online. There'll be some conceptual topics, and there'll be some more concrete topics; regardless, many of these tips should help you succeed at Mario Tennis Open.
Note - There is no substitute for experience; no amount of advice I can give you can build the necessary skills to play tennis. This sections is merely to suggest different approaches that you may not have considered, and to inform you about various situations.
The Rules of Tennis
Not many people play tennis in their spare time...it's not exactly as popular as football (both the American connotation and the international connotation). This section will explain the specifics of tennis rules (most of which can be found in the manual), and will explain how infractions upon these rules usually occur, but will not explain tactics to avoid these infractions. If you are already familiar with the rules of tennis, skip ahead to the next section (The Shots)
How to Win
Well, scoring points. Duh. But, seriously, tennis is often broken up into games and sets. Games are the scoring unit beyond an individual point; they are won by scoring four points though you must win by at least two points to win the game. However, the scoring won't go 1-2-3...it'll go 15-30-40. Also, if there is a tie at 40, it will go to a "deuce." From here, you must score an "Advantage," and then follow that up with another point to win the game; you must win by two points. Finally, the server will be constant for the entirety of the game.
A certain number of games will constitute a set; sets are the actual points that will determine who wins the match. Sets can be made up of anywhere from two games to six games (as in, you must win two to six games to win the set). Again, like games, you must win sets by two games to actually win the set; if it comes to a tie at the number of games required to win the set, the game will move to a tiebreaker. A tiebreaker is a small match to determine who wins the set; instead of using the 15-30-40 point system, it will use the normal 1-2-3 point system. The first to seven wins; however, you must win by two points to win the tiebreaker. If there is a tie at 6, it will move to an advantage system where the advantage may flip sides until someone gets two points in a row. Also, the serve will switch every two points between the two players.
Anyways, an entire tennis match may be made up of a best-of-one format all the way up to a best-of-five format. This means that you must win three sets for the latter to win; if you have three set wins and your opponent only has one, the game is called there, and you win. If you've been following me up to this point, you should be able to guess that the longest tennis match possible is a five-set, six-game match.
In tennis, there are a few ways to score a point. The first (the one you'll use the most often) is when the ball bounces twice without being hit back. This will yield a point to the person who hit the ball last, and will constitute in the start of a new volley. Another way to win a point is to hit your opponent with the tennis ball. This often happens when they aren't charging up a shot, and you use a flat or topspin shot. Also, in doubles, if you hit your partner with the tennis ball, you will lose the point. You can also win a point by having your opponent hit the ball "out." Basically, they have to hit it outside the white lines (the inner white line on the side in a singles match, and the outer white line in a doubles match). Also, if your opponent fails to make the tennis ball over the net for whatever reason (usually because of mounting pressure), you'll win a point. The final way to win a point is to have your opponent commit a double fault which is explained below in the Serves section.
I mentioned Shot Panels earlier, but I didn't necessarily explain all of the shots. Well, I'm going to do that here! Now that all the rules of tennis are out of the way, I can take the time to start explaining the pros, cons, strategies, and all the ins-and-outs of each of the shots. Since shots are the base of every tennis game you'll play in Mario Tennis Open, be sure you know these.
A slice chance shot being prepared
Before I get into the actual shots in Mario Tennis Open, I should tell you about the mechanic that basically defines this game. Chance shots are souped up versions of each of the shots below; they occur when you make the correct shot from within a flashing chance shot circle. By "correct shot," I mean the shot that matches in color to the circle on the ground (e.g. a slice shot matches the chance area present in the image on the right). Chance shots are extraordinarily powerful and are practically exaggerated versions of their respective shot. I will note here that chance shots are usually triggered about two or three shots into the match, and will be common from then on (showing up in practically every volley); however, their appearance can be minimized by the usage of flat shots.
The Simple Shot
The simple shot is the shot that's triggered by the big green button in the center of the shot panel or by pressing "X." The simple shot will take the form of a basic shot with no spin whatsoever; it will have a faint green-yellow tail following it as it travels through the air. However, if you use a simple shot in a chance shot area, it will trigger the appropriate chance shot. However, the chance shot will be less powerful than if you had matched the shot correctly. I recommend that you rarely use this shot as it is more beneficial to use your appropriate chance shot to get the extra power.
The Topspin Shot
Description - This shot puts some topspin (wow) on the tennis ball which forces the ball up higher in course of its flight. It will be faster than a simple shot (but not as fast as a flat shot) and will turn in the air if your character tends to put more spin on their shots. It will have a red streak following it through its flight.
A normal topspin shot
Trigger - The big red button on the top-right portion of the screen or the "A" button.
Chance Shot Area - Red, Fire Flower
Chance Shot - A powerful topspin shot that will move much faster than a usual topspin shot. If your opponent manages to return the shot, they will skid back trying to push against the power of the shot. The distance they are pushed back varies depending on the shot they return with (the effect is minimized with the reciprocal shot), the power of the character who landed the shot, and the weight of the character returning. The greater the power, the greater the blowback, and the greater the weight, the lesser the blowback.
Reciprocal Shot - Slice Shot
Point-Yielding Ability - 2/5 - It simply isn't as effective as other shots, and is relatively easy to return. Even in situations where you can likely get a point with a topspin chance shot, chances are that you could've easily gotten that point with another charged-up shot.
General Strategies - The topspin shot often isn't as strategic as the other shots because it is fairly straightforward. However, the topspin shot is a great start for a combo that can yield you a point. If you can manage to push your opponent back with a topspin chance shot, you can follow it up with either a quick drop shot, or any other shot that's directed at where they aren't. However, you definitely shouldn't rely on topspin shots if your opponent is heavier or more powerful than you are, and you may want to resort to some other shot that puts more pressure on them (e.g. a charged lob shot, or drop shot). On the other hand, if your character is significantly stronger than your opponent, then you can likely push them all the way to the wall in the back of the court (yes, there's a wall), and then just send another shot away from them.
Counters - If you see a topspin chance shot coming up, you have a few options. If the chance shot is coming from the center of the court, run up towards the center of the court and use a flat shot to deflect it towards one of the edges of the court. The knockback will send you to the back of the court (rather than off the court), and you'll probably put your opponent on the defense. However, if you're opponent is near the edge or back of the court, it's probably a good idea to remain in the back-center of the court so you can rush to either side of the court if necessary. Use a slice shot to return the ball. There's about a 50% chance you'll be able to survive the coming onslaught...it really depends on which chance shot your opponents gets next if any.
Description - You would think that a slice shot puts sidespin on the tennis ball, but it actually puts backspin on the tennis ball. As the ball travels through the air, the forward velocity will work against the backspin and the ball will move to the side. The degree of spin will vary depending on how much spin your character puts on the tennis ball. Also, slice shots have blue streaks following them.
Trigger - Press the blue button on the bottom-right portion of the screen or press the "B" button.
Slice shots curve a LOT
Chance Shot Area - Blue, Blooper
Chance Shot - A banana slice that will literally cut from one half of the court to the other. The spin is absolutely massive. If your opponent manages to return the shot, they'll spin around due to the sidespin on the ball (however, if they use the correct reciprocal shot, they'll recover much more quickly). Also, it seems that technique characters will have a better time recovering than many of the other categories.
Reciprocal Shot - Topspin Shot
Point-Yielding Ability - 2.5/5 - Slice shots seem wickedly hard to return, but they usually aren't as good as you would think they would be. Like topspin shots, they are good combo starters, but they have a bit more versatility in forcing points on their own.
General Strategies - Slice shots are useful for hitting the ball out of reach of your opponents, or for hitting the ball around your opponents. For the former, you can easily curve the ball into one section of the court where your opponent isn't; for example, if you're opponent is in the back-right portion of the court, you can slice it from right-to-left in front of your opponent and out the left side of the court. And, if your opponent is in the center or towards the front of the court, you can attempt to go around them by aiming for the edge of the court (if you can guess how the ball will spin through the air). Basically, you want your banana slice to go out then come in, not come in then go out, or your opponent will be able to return the ball rather easily.
Counters - Unlike the topspin shot, you should not run up to the front of the net to counter a slice shot. However, how you counter a slice shot depends on the degree to which your opponent curves their shots. If your opponent has some gnarly curve on their shots, you should try to stand near the center of the court, since, chances are, their shot will curve so much that it'll pass through the center of the court while heading to the back-corner-pocket. If your opponent doesn't curve the ball that much, they can get away with curving early, and heading down the edge of the court (on your side at least). For this reason, you want to head towards the back of the court if that is closer, or towards the edge of the court where they are coming from. The latter is risky in that their shot may curve the other way, and you could be stuck with the ball going around you; however, the former can put you in a position to get killed by the next shot.
Flat shots are extremely fast...it's unlikely Mario will be able to survive the upcoming onslaught
Description - The flat shot could easily be called the fast shot; it is an extremely fast shot with no spin (as such, tricky characters can't do much with this shot). Flat shots have a purple streak.
Trigger - Press the small purple area in the center-right portion of your shot panel, or press the "Y" button.
Chance Shot Area - Purple, Star
Chance Shot - A flat chance shot is even faster than a normal flat shot. It has amazing forward velocity coupled with a smash-like downward trajectory that makes it hard to return even if you are standing right next to (or in front of) it. The flat shot really has no direct effect on the player who's returning, other than the fact that they will have trouble returning the shot, and it's likely that one flat shot will be followed by another, deadly flat shot. It's very similar to a smash shot from earlier Tennis games.
Reciprocal Shot - Flat Shot
Point-Yielding Ability - 4/5 - Flat shots are fast, and that alone is enough to force a point. If your opponent is not directly in front of you, there is a clear possibility of knocking the tennis ball out-of-reach.
General Strategies - Aim where your opponent isn't. That's the basic strategy because they just won't be able to return a flat chance shot unless they have amazing speed or are Boo. A good strategy if they're right in front of you is to try to chain flat shots; basically, get one flat shot, they return, and aim another flat shot away from them (since they probably got pushed back a little from the first flat shot). The second flat shot doesn't even have to be a chance shot because you can most likely aim it far enough away from them that they can't return it.
Counters - Your best counter is to run up near the net to limit the range you have to cover (the range the ball can possibly pass through with all of your opponent's angling). You can even get a point out of the counter if you angle off towards the edge of the court, and your opponent doesn't expect it. However, what makes flat shots so annoying is that they tend to crop up with poor returns to other chance shots (e.g. topspin chance shots). So, as you're sitting in the back of the court recovering from that last shot, your opponent is charging up a flat chance shot. In this case, the best thing you can do is to run off to the side where you think your opponent is going to send the ball, and pray that they do hit the ball there. Diving may help, but it's no match against a flat shot on the other side of the court.
Description - A lob shot is a shot with minor spin that has a very high trajectory. It is often aimed towards the back of the court, though a weak lob shot won't be able to make it there, and will probably die out halfway through the court. Lob shots have a yellow streak following them.
Trigger - Press the large yellow button in the top-left corner, or press the "A" button followed quickly by the "B" button (almost simultaneously).
A lob chance shot
Chance Shot Area - Yellow, Cheep Cheep
Chance Shot - A lob chance shot will send the ball very far up into the air--nearly twice as high as a charged lob shot. The chance shot will also literally be aiming for the back pocket of the court, and can only be returned from back there due to its trajectory. Also, the lob shot will have more pronounced spin in its flight, and can migrate from the center of the court to either pocket. Also, the lob shot will either have the blowback of a very subdued topspin shot, or the spinning of a weak slice shot.
Reciprocal Shot - Slice Shot
Point-Yielding Ability - 3/5 - The main trickiness with a lob shot is the fact that it can turn either direction rather easily, and that the direction of the turn can be difficult to approximate. Also, it is an instant point if your opponent is hugging the net and you return with a quick lob chance shot.
General Strategies - Lob shots only really work well if your opponent is hugging the net, or on one side of the court. You can also get lucky and have your opponent get confused as to where the ball is going, and win a point that way. However, your best strategy is to use your lob shot to force your opponent into one corner (and possibly disorient them), and then use a charged flat shot aiming at the other corner. Unless they're really agile and quick-to-recover (or Boo), you should have an easy point.
Counter - Get back, get back, get back! If you aren't exactly sure where the lob shot is going to go, stand in the center and move to the side once you know where it's going. The most important reaction you need to make is realizing that your opponent has a lob shot coming, and moving back if you're up near the net. If you make a charged slice shot return, you should be fine.
A charged drop shot
Description - A weak shot with practically no bounce whatsoever. It will literally land and putter out shortly thereafter. It has no spin also, and can really throw your opponent off their game. A white streak follows a drop shot.
Trigger - Press the big white button in the lower-left corner, or press the "B" button shortly followed by the "A" button (almost pressing them simultaneously).
Chance Shot Area - White, Bob-omb
Chance Shot - A drop chance shot is basically a drop shot that doesn't really bounce at all. It will land, bounce straight up about six inches, then bounce back down. The ball will be confined to the first half of the court, and is very hard to return due to its lack-of-bounce.
Reciprocal Shot - Topspin Shot
Point Yielding Ability - 3.5/5 - Drop shots are just hard to return since they don't bounce. Since your opponent doesn't necessarily spend the majority of their time hugging the net, they won't be ready to return the ultra-slow drop shot.
General Strategies - If your opponent is loafing around the court, or is on the opposite portion of the court, send your drop shot away from them, and watch them scramble. Even if they do return the shot, you'll be in a great position to smash in the opposite direction. Charged drop shots can also be effective substitutes for lob chance shots since your opponent will most likely be anticipating a shot heading to the back of the court--most definitely not a drop shot.
Counters - If you see your opponent preparing a drop chance shot, get up near the net. Get in front of your opponent if you can. You don't necessarily have to use a topspin shot to return as a flat shot will work just as well--anything with some speed. However, if you aren't close enough to return the drop shot, try and use the "R" button to work your way up there.
The first thing you'll ever have to do in a tennis match is serve, and it's usually a good idea to get off to a decent start. However, there are a few restrictions when it comes to serving: you may only stand on the back line, you may only move throughout one half of the line, you may only serve to the opposite quadrant, and you may only use simple, flat, topspin, or slice shots to serve. Those are essentially the rules of tennis regarding serves (save the last restriction).
Topspin, Slice, Flat
You do have three (technically four, but simple shots are unimportant) shots to choose between, so which one is best? Well, that depends on which character you're using.
Technique, Tricky, or High-Spin Miis
With these characters, the spin on your shots are probably noticeable with every shot except flat and drop shots. Since you wouldn't be using your forte if you served a flat shot and it would be weak compared to other characters' flat shots (you'd probably get a 100mph/160kph as a non-star character), you should play into your strength and use a slice shot. Your spin, unlike your lack-of-speed, will be able to throw off your opponent especially if your character is starred or if you're using a tricky character.
Peach is a technique character, so she should use a slice shot
Power, Defense, All-Around, or High-Power Miis
These characters, on the other hand, are much more powerful and can dish out 125mph/200kph serves with a decent flat shot (as non-star characters). As such, power, defense, and all-around characters should use flat shots. If your opponent isn't ready for the serve, you can easily swipe an effortless point just by making a fast serve. You can also force your opponent to dive for the ball which will likely trigger a chance shot for your return.
All you Yoshi's, Diddy's, and Baby Mario's are mediocre in both categories so you can realistically choose. You won't have the power behind your flat shots nor will you have the spin behind your slice shots, so it really makes no difference which shot you use.
While serving, you get the liberty of moving laterally along the back line, and serving to the entirety of the opposite-back quadrant (e.g. back right to back left). As with many things in life, you should see how far you can get with this setup; usually it is not a good idea to serve directly from where you started. It's too forgiving, and squanders the advantage of serving. Rather, there are a few popular ways to serve which you should consider (they're popular because they're effective not effective because they're popular):
- Extremes - The idea of this serve is to move all the way to the outer edge of your serving area and to aim at the opposite corner. Basically, you should go from corner-pocket to corner-pocket.
- Down the Middle - As the name suggests, you're going to want to be as close to the center line as possible aiming for the center line on the other side. The only hitch with this serve is that it does tend to fault occasionally on slower courts.
- Outside-Inside - If you use the first method liberally, this serve can be a good switch-up. You'll stand on the outside as you did on the first serve, but aim towards the center line on the other court. If your opponent is somewhat naive, you could easily score a point by feigning them.
To get the most out of your serve, you want the rewarding "Nice" or "Good" to come up immediately after your serve. A "nice" serve will have some fancy air graphics whirling around your shot as it travels to the other side of the court (with some nice sound effects), and a "good" shot will just have crisp sound effects. However, the main effect that you're after is the fact that your shot will be faster and spin more (if it's a slice or topspin shot). A "nice" shot can add another 10mph/16kph to your serve and can make it spin up to twice as much as a normal shot.
In order to get a "nice" shot, you need to hit your serve while the tennis ball is at the peak of its flight when your character throws it up. This means that you'll probably want to press whatever button your using to serve when the tennis ball is about to be at the top of its flight so as to give your character time to react. Even if you don't get a "nice" shot, you should at least get a "good" shot which is better than nothing.
Returning serves can be anywhere from pleasantly easy to excruciatingly nerve-wracking. Powerful characters dishing out "nice" flat shots can easily fire the tennis ball right past you, and tricky characters sending out "nice" slice shots can make the tennis ball whiz right past you as well. My best advice is usually to stand in the middle (where the game places you), as it's a bad idea to move from the center and have the tennis ball end up going the opposite direction. If you want to really minimize the chance of missing the serve, moving up a tad bit can help. However, you must let the serve bounce once or you'll forfeit a point. Also, you'll probably lose some power in your return if you move up.
Playing the Net
So now that you've got the ball rolling (or flying, I guess), you need to figure out how you want to play for the point. One such strategy is to run the net...basically, to run up to the net and try to overrun your opponent with quick jabs in every direction. There are definitely some better players at and around the net (e.g. Dry Bowser, Waluigi, Luigi, Mario, Yoshi, etc.), and there are some players that shouldn't be confined to the net (Baby Mario, Baby Peach, Luma, Peach, etc.). This approach is seriously high-risk, high-reward during the match; it is very possible to lose a point, and usually easier to win a point than sitting in the back building pressure (see Playing the Back, The Attack From the Back).
The Net is Your Friend
Get to know the net--you're practically going to be hugging it if you use this approach. When you decide to play the net, your general strategy is to either (a) get a flat chance shot, or (b) hit quick shots out of your opponent's reach until s/he finally yields a point. The latter should be your goal, and the former should be treated as a gift rather than an expectation.
Your general plan is to hit the ball back and forth, with all sorts of different plays to force your opponent to slip up under pressure. Usually flat shots are your go-to shot in this strategy since they have quick execution, little spin, and are harder to return. Flat shots also tend to limit the appearance of chance shot areas, thus limiting your opponent's ability to get the ball past you. If you manage to stand up near the front, you want to force a point as soon as possible or your opponent will realize your strategy, and exploit your weakness in the back of the court. You also have to be wary of their chance shots as these can really throw a thorn in your play.
Mario playing the net with a topspin shot
Your Plan of Action
- Find the Net - Work your way up to the net, so you can start using that pressure to your advantage.
- Start Flat - Flat shots are the easiest way to force a quick point, so start off with them. You'll want to direct your flat shots in alternating directions to see if you can put one out-of-reach. If your opponent is slow or aloof, you can easily pick up a point with a well-placed flat shot.
- Take the Easy Chance Shots - If you're lucky, a flat chance shot will appear near the front of the net if your opponent doesn't return the ball correctly. Take advantage of these (you may have to run back a little bit), and place a smash where your opponent doesn't expect it. Also, other chance shots work just as well, though they're more likely to create pressure than create an immediate point.
- Strategy - If flat shots aren't panning out, start working strategically. Force your opponent to start working harder for the ball by placing drop shots away from them, lob shots behind them, and slices around them. Sometimes variety will throw your opponent off simply because they're expecting another flat shot.
- Work for Chance Shots - Eventually you'll reach that point where you finally realize that you're going nowhere with net-play, and you need to change it up dramatically or you're going to be the one scraping the ball from behind your back. At this point, you're most likely dishing out all sorts of different shots, and getting chance shots to appear behind you pretty consistently. For a possibly a good lob or slice chance shot, run back, and aim it away from your opponent. Be sure not to get hit by the tennis ball while running back. You might be able to force your opponent to slip up. If you can, run back up and finish them off. If not, play from the back and try this strategy: Playing the Back.
If you're playing the net, you need to be aware of the many risks of playing that aggressively. Lob chance shots are practically a death-sentence for that point, and well-placed topspin and flat shots can be just as deadly. Your best bet is to stay in front of your opponent as much as possible, and to move back if your opponent gets a dangerous chance shot. There's also the problem of unintentional lob shots--where your opponent returns the ball weakly and it flies much higher than usual. These types of shots can easily fly over your head, and you need to back up to return it back. While you shouldn't be cautious when you have mounting pressure on your opponent, you should be cautious when you aren't exactly dominating your opponent because they can easily turn the tables on you.
If you're playing against a net-rusher, you either need to play their game, or play around them. The former is the more viable of the options if you're a character who has less finesse in their shots, and emphasizes more on power. The latter is the more viable option if you're a character with more spin and more control over the ball. If you decide to play their game, you need to anticipate a lot of quick volleying. Your best bet to win is to out-strategize your opponent with a quick lob, or unexpected slice/flat shot. If you decide to play from the back, you need to anticipate their shots as they make them. You also need to be agile, and ready to take advantage of chance shots. Hit the tennis ball where they aren't, and you should do fine against the net-rusher.
Playing the Back
Your other primary option is to play from the back as your main strategy for scoring the point. While this strategy is usually less risky, it is also harder to get easy points like rushing the net allows. Playing from the back relies more heavily on subtle strategy and exploiting positional weaknesses than simply playing aggressive does. Playing from the back is usually better for speed, technique, and tricky characters since they have more options available to them, and more versatility when it comes to making the correct shots. Power, defense, and all-around characters hafve much more trouble moving around the back of the court, and exerting their influence from the back of the court.
The Attack From the Back
Readying for a lob shot, this doubles match may turn into a volley of chance shots from the back
Your general idea with the back-attack is to overrun your opponent with well-placed chance and charged shots. Since your opponent has a lot of ground to cover, chances are that s/he won't be able to keep up with your antics. And, even if your opponent can return your shots, they have to keep up with the coming onslaught of chance shot-after-chance shot-after-chance shot. Once your opponent is ready to buckle, a quick smash near the net should do them in, and they should fall.
Your Plan of Action
- Start off Flat - Flat shots deter the appearance of chance shot areas, and the last thing you want is your opponent getting a chance shot volley against you. You should probably launch these charged flat shots from the back so that you can be ready for any possible chance shot areas that appear on your side of the court. However, even if you use flat shots, your opponent may still get the upper hand; if they do, continue to step two, if they don't, skip to step four.
- Hold On - Try to return the chance shots the best you can. The most important thing is to prevent your opponent from riding the net with you in the back of the court; keep a leash on them by using lobs to return certain volleys. This should hook them to the back line.
- Use Reciprocal Shots - Reciprocal shots (detailed in The Shots section) limit the power of chance shots, and may even net you a point if you return with a nice, charged, complete swing. These charged reciprocal shots will likely change the balance of the match drastically.
- Build Pressure - You can either do this by using well-placed charged shots that are strategical in nature (see General Strategy; Pressure Shots), or by compounding chance shots. The former requires more skilled control of the tennis ball, but is more rewarding; the latter may fall apart and is more prone to accidents. Basically, just send chance shots or charged shots at your opponent until you can finish it up with step five.
- Finishing - A smash flat shot will suffice, as will any other unreachable shot. Just try and set up some sort of combination where you can earn that well-deserved point.
Countering the Back Attack
The main problems you have to be aware of if you're using the back attack are your opponent's chance shots. Since chance shots can be a major threat to the kind of character you're using (well, except Boo), you need to be ready to ready to run up if your opponent gets a drop chance shot, flat chance shot, or topspin chance shot. Once you neutralize that threat, you can move back and continue with your chance shots. Your other major threats are those charged topspin and flat shots. They can move so fast across the net (especially when your opponent is playing the net) that you don't have time to react even with a speed character. If these charged shots are causing you too much trouble, you may need to move up and play a hybrid of the two approaches.
If you're playing against someone who tends to keep to the back, you need to watch for their chance shots. It is much easier for them to chain their chance shots because they are in a more versatile position to reach all of the chance shot areas, and put them all together to create pressure against your ability to return. However, you have a lot of options to consider when playing against someone who plays from the back. The first counter is to play the net and try to stretch them out by making well-placed shots to different parts of the court. This usually comes with the risk of having lob shots fly over your head, but if you can successfully keep your opponent trying to return your shots, then you shouldn't have many problems. The other option is to play charged or tactical shots from the back of the court. Usually flat shots and topspin shots are good for keeping your opponent on their toes (especially if you're using a more powerful setup), but a drop shot is a good alternative if you're going for an immediate point.
Even though it's a tennis match, some strategy goes in to making most of your shots. Usually it's just simple strategy (e.g. they're standing up front, so a charged lob shot might get a point), but more high-powered games will involve notable tactical planning to get one player in a poor position. Strategy in Mario Tennis Open can usually be divided into two categories: Out-of-Reach Shots, and Pressure Shots (yes, I made up those names).
This is the most prevalent strategy in Mario Tennis Open; hitting the tennis ball where your opponent isn't. For example, drop shots when your opponent is in the back, lobs shots when your opponent is in the front, flat shots when your opponent is on one side of the court, and topspin shots when you want to psyche your opponent out. However, instead of going through every single possibility with a bunch of hypothetical situations, I'm going to use pictures!
Bowser's returning, and both of his opponents are near the front of the court. If he can, Bowser should use a lob shot to hit over his opponents.
Luigi's returning while Wario is being pushed back. Luigi should try a shot that starts in the middle and curves out of the court on either side.
Same game, but Luigi now has a lob chance shot ready. Instead, he should use a drop shot to try and catch Wario off-guard.
Another doubles match with Luigi or Daisy returning. I would recommend that Luigi return with a drop shot in front of Mario.
If you're playing against more competent, human opponents, you have a variety of tactics to catch them off-guard in the immediate return. For instance, if you have a lob chance shot area near the back, chances are that your opponent is scrambling to the back of the court. Try a drop shot. Your opponent may not have the time to react, and, due to human error, you'll gain a point. You have a drop chance shot area? Try a charged topspin shot down the side. Just because there's chance shot area on the ground doesn't mean you have to use that chance shot. There are five other viable shots that may be more likely to yield a point than that chance shot. However, this is something you have to come up with yourself; it's more of a spur-of-the-moment experiment rather than a set-in-stone formula. Don't be afraid to try something new; it may be another way to yield a point.
By the way, the Ink Showdown special game is a great way to improve your tactical prowess.
On the other hand, there are the situations where there aren't any obvious exploitations to take advantage of. In this case, you need to create your own! You already do this with chance shot chains by building insurmountable pressure that forces your opponent to give in at some point (usually when you get a flat shot your opponent simply can't respond to). The same could be applied to when you start a chance shot chain by forcing your opponent to give a less-than-stellar return (normally when they dive for the ball). Let's bring back the previous pic:
Earlier I recommended a drop shot. However, there's about a 50/50 shot of Mario making it there in time. Even if he does return the ball, there's a good chance that it'll be a mediocre return that triggers a chance flat shot which will lead to a quick end for the Mario/Yoshi team
There is the same general idea (strike the tennis ball to an area where your opponent isn't), but the short-term result is different. You need to chain your chance shots together so that your opponent can't easily return them. If your opponent can land a charged reciprocal shot, it is likely that your chain will end, and you'll have your opponents chance shots to deal with. Therefore, you need to keep your chance shots as far away from your opponent as possible using the advice I distributed in The Shots section.
I figured I'd throw this in here since it really doesn't deserve a full section. Taunting slightly increases the power of your next shot (remember, you can taunt by pressing a button that triggers a shot when the tennis ball isn't on your side of the court), so that your next shot will be more likely to cause your opponent some damage. Of course, this is minor, but you should use it to your advantage.
These games will be your main source of coin income in Mario Tennis Open. Special Games are practically minigames (and I'll mostly refer to them as minigames), and they usually test your ability to control the ball in certain ways. Ring Shot will test your strategy and planning abilities; Super Mario Tennis will test your agility and compensation abilities; Galaxy Rally will test your endurance and consistency; Ink Showdown will test your aim and agility. Luckily for you, you're bound to like at least one of the games. However, unluckily for you, some of these minigames can be quite difficult to clear on their hardest difficulty...but that's why I'm here! This section will give you general tips for each of the Special Games, and then specific strategies for each of the levels. I'll also give you advice for earning the most coins in the respective free play mode, and what goodies you can unlock for each minigame.
Ring Shot is the first minigame you'll stumble upon in the Special Games section, and it can definitely be the hardest to clear. You need to have profound consistency and some quick problem-solving to be able to clear Ring Shot on the hardest difficulty, and then unlock the two prized goodies for this mode. Anyways, Ring Mode involves you volleying tennis balls with a partner back-and-forth through rings to earn points. For each successive ring that you pass through, the multiplier is increased by one until the ball is returned. Most of the rings will be in great proximity of the net, and will often cluster around some sort of focal point. After the rings appear, they will expand and thus be worth fewer points. Chaining rings will make it much easier to complete this minigame effectively.
Coins for this game are also straightforward; one ring point is equal to one coin. If you're playing any level but Challenge Rings, you'll also earn one coin for every second left on the clock.