Review by Ice Water

Reviewed: 04/01/05

Throw all those crappy Mario Tennis games for your Gameboy, N64, or Gamecube into the trash compactor. You don't need those.

The year 1995 sure was a crazy year. All this talk about a competitor for the SNES and Genesis was amuck, The NES just died, Donkey Kong Country was sweeping the nation, and Nintendo was working on their doomed project: The Virtual Boy. Despite how awesome the concept of Virtual reality is, Nintendo just couldn't create it with the limitations of Technology back then (this was before Al Gore 'invented the Internet' you know), and ended up being as awesome as the Power Glove. Despite the fact that the Virtual Boy was a visual failure, it did have a few bad ass games. Mario Tennis, the game that came with every Virtual Boy back when Nintendo was nice enough to give you a game with your console, was one of these bad ass games.

Mario Tennis was Mario's first known sports game (unless you count all those NES games where you thought you saw him as the ref, the golfer, or the kart racer), and his best one to date. Not even with all the experts from Nintendo and Camelot can come up with a game of this caliber, and this was before graphics were needed to make a game. This 32bit 2D red and black game is the best tennis game ever created and here's why.

Wait...Mario playing tennis? There HAS to be a story!
You'd think that, but then again, would you write a story about a man who one day paid five bucks to go bowling? I think not!

Gameplay
The gameplay for Mario Tennis is easy as hell to learn, but takes a while to master. Choosing one of the seven available characters (Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, Toad, Donkey Kong Jr., Koopa, or Yoshi), you could then start up whichever match you had chosen to play, be it a Single (one on one), or a Doubles match (you and a computer player vs. two computer opponents). Before you even get to the character select, you had to scroll down the menu to set up the difficulty of your opponent (easy, normal, hard), how many rounds you would go (one or two sets), and if you wanted to play in a tournament or a single match. Once you set up all of this, the game is on!

Using your awesome left control pad, you can move your character in any direction on the court. Too bad s/he moves hella slow, but they usually make it to the ball on time so that's a plus. Using the B button, you can power bomb the hell out of the ball, and using the A button causes a simple swing. By using one of the light weights (Toad, Koopa) you inherit a sliding move that comes into play when you hit the A button near the ball, saving the day for the weaker character. The L button, R button, Select button, and right control pad aren't used unfortunately, so you'll just be using the other three for the entire game.

Despite this game being simple to learn, the enemies can become quite a nuisance. Each player has their own style of playing, so the computer takes advantage of this, and keeps you on your toes. What else would you expect from a Nintendo game?

Graphics
Despite all of the various shades of red, Mario Tennis's graphics are nice to look at until you leave the Virtual Boy to get a samich or something. Then you'll become blind for a bit due to the light hitting your eyes. The Virtual Boy problem aside, all of the characters are animated quite well, each with their own victory pose, movements, racket swinging, and other stuff. The background looks very well done, with very recognizable places from previous Mario games. It is definitely something to look at least once in your life.

Sound and Music
Being entirely in Stereo sound, the music of this game is well done indeed with many memorable tunes. You would think that Nintendo would have put less effort into the music of this game since it was on the virtual boy, but that's not the case here, as the music really sets the mood of your match. The sound effects aren't very numerous here, mostly just the sound of the ball being hit back and forth. But despite this, you will know the difference between a weak hit, and a strong smash when your racket hits the ball. Excellent job in the sound department as it gets the job done right.

My eyes hurt, but this game is fun!
Despite the fact that your eyes will be hurtin' after a while, Mario Tennis is a game that you will love to come back and play every once in a while. By improving upon this game, you can put in a special code and make the game even harder until you become the Mario Tennis champion (although I doubt anyone does Virtual Boy tournaments, seeing how the system was made for one player only).

Should I buy this game?
Chances are that if you had bought a Virtual Boy you already own this game. But if for some odd reason you didn't, this game is definitely one that all Virtual Boy owners SHOULD own, seeing how there's only 14 games or something for the system. If you own a Virtual Boy, you most definitely should pick this game up. It should cost about 5 bucks at a used game store, and anything above that is highway robbery.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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