Review: Who knew it was so much fun to bounce balls with a plumber?
Developer Camelot and Nintendo released Mario Golf quite a while ago and before it was released many were thinking the game was just a ploy for Nintendo to squeeze a little bit more money out of its franchises. However once the game was released, it was clear to see that Nintendo knew what it was doing. Even if you took all of the Nintendo characters away, Mario Golf would have still been an excellent golf game, and adding our favorites like Mario, Luigi, Toad, DK and others just made it the game that much better. Well when word broke that Mario Tennis was in the works by the same developer, Camelot, people were very excited. Not only did the game look promising, but the impressions of people who had tested the game were very favorable, however it was still up in the air whether Camelot would really develop a tennis game that could be as good as their golf game. Well breath easy, because they served up one of the most fun gaming experiences on Nintendo 64.
The visuals in Mario Tennis are probably the least important factor in the game. That's not to say they are bad, it's just saying that it gets the job done. You won't see any fancy crowd or stadium graphics, and the characters are not overly detailed, yet you won't seem to mind or even notice these things once you start playing. It's the usual bright cheery colors that you would expect from a Mario game. To make a long story short it's the same graphic style of Mario Golf with slightly more detailed characters. There's the standard color trails on the ball, and charging animations. There are four different playing surfaces and the beautiful tilting Bowser court floating on an ocean of lava. While the graphics are simple, the most important part is that there is no drop in frame rate, ever. Like I said the visuals get the job done, and with the spectacularly smooth frame rate you won't care that it's not overly detailed.
Once again, the audio in the game is the same that you would expect from Mario Golf. There are the small character one-liners and grunts and groans. Also there are the realistic racket and ball sound effects as well as some great music. Remember the music from the first time you fight Bowser in Super Mario 64, that's back in the Bowser stage and I don't care what anyone says but that tune rocked. Over all once again, the sound effects and music are decent and get the job done without overdoing it, or becoming overly annoying.
The gameplay presented in Mario Tennis is without a doubt the most standout feature of the whole game. This is probably one of the smoothest games in terms of playabilty and control. The controls are very easy to learn, and while there are a couple of different variations in hitting the ball, it's still a most enjoyable experience getting familiar with the game. I would say it takes about 5 minutes to get the basic controls, and around 30 minutes to master most of the controls. There is the slice, topspin, drop, lob, and smash shot. The first two can be upgraded by tapping either A or B twice to hit it harder. Also you can stand still and hold the A or B button to power up for a shot, however your movement while doing this is extremely limited, thus you can only do this if you know directly where the ball is going. You can cancel the charge by pressing Z although usually by that time it's too late. The only gripe about the control is that sometimes if you tap the A button a little too early you will start charging when you really want to run a little further to hit the ball, however that's not a problem with the game, it's just a little hard to get use to while your playing as you will have the tendency to want to push the button way before the ball gets to you.