Review by Jam
Reviewed: 09/20/00 | Updated: 09/20/00
A lobbing good time! Wait...that is the phrase, isn't it?
Show of hands, who here remembers that old classic Super Tennis on the SNES? ::looks to the hardcore gamers contingent:: Okay, now who played Mario's Tennis on the Virtual Boy? ::looks to the blind video gamers:: Well, I'll make this as simple as possible: Mario Tennis blows them both away. Camelot(who made the earlier Mario Golf) has really done a bang-up job this time.
Gameplay - Wow. Camelot payed so much attention to the gameplay that it's astounding. While you may think ''It's just tennis,'' there's a lot of strategy involved in tennis. Thankfully, this strategy is conveyed beautifully through the use of two buttons, and two buttons alone, A and B. Camelot has managed to get 7, yes, 7 possible shots out of just those two buttons. It's amazing. Your basic shots are topspin(flies high, bounces low) and slice(flies low, bounces high). You can also charge up those two shots to add that extra bit of power that can mean all the difference in a heated net exchange. Pressing A + B yields the strong Power Smash, which, if used properly, is practically unstoppable. A, then B will give you a lob, which sends the ball really high in the air, and is useful for beating players who stick to the net. Likewise, pressing B, then A will give you a drop shot, which is a shot that flies slow and drops quick, making anyone who sticks to the backcourt desperately charge the net. Your job is to decide what shot is appropriate for the current situation, then make sure not to let the ball get by you. There are 5 different groups of characters, each with their own weaknesses and strengths. All-Around players are good at pretty much everything. Speed players can race around the court and chase down those balls that you thought were just out of reach. Power players can hit the ball so hard that it'll dent the hardcourt. Technique players are full of finesse and accuracy, which means they can put the ball where it needs to be. And finally, there are the Tricky players, who can hit the ball with such strange curves that the ball will be coming to you one second and going the other way the next! You have to take into account your character's strengths and weaknesses and mold your game around those. I cannot move on without discussing the supreme multiplayer mode this game possesses. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...the N64 is currently unmatched when it comes to multiplayer party games. Grab 3 friends and invite them over and you'll be playing Mario Tennis for hours on end. This game is defiantely one of the top 5 multiplayer experiences on the N64.
Graphics - Not only does it play awesome, but it looks good to boot! While we're not talking Perfect Dark quality here(sans framerate issue, of course), the graphics certainly get the job done and the framerate never stutters, even on Bowser's Court. The characters models are nicely animated, if a bit blocky. Each character has their own individual win pose if they get a point and a lose pose when they let the ball get by. Also, the facial expressions look very nice, and run the gamut from happy to angry to surprised.
Sound - While the music is more or less forgettable, it is nice. The Match Point and Tiebreaker themes are especially well done. You'll also find renditions of the Super Mario Bros. theme, the original Donkey Kong theme, and the Yoshi's Story theme. There's also a surprising amount of speech in this game, and not just in the game itself. The intro has a lot of voice work, and the voices are nicely done.
Buy Or Rent? - You don't have to be a fan of tennis to like this game, but if you're still wary, then go ahead and rent. But if you're looking for a good time and an awesome multiplayer experience, then by all means, stop reading this and pick up a copy of Mario Tennis. I'll see you at the hardcourt! Oh yeah, and Waluigi is pretty cool.
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