Review: Nintendo serves up another Ace
The characters from the Mushroom Kingdom return for yet another game for the GameCube console, titled Mario Power Tennis. This is the newer version of the smash hit Mario Tennis 64 for the Nintendo 64, a game that turned out to be one of the most exciting games with plenty of multi-player action. The GameCube rendition features improved graphics and a few gameplay additions. Do these addictions make it a noticeably better game or were they tacked on for the sake of having them? Read on to find out whether Mario Power Tennis is a game that you should check out.
All of the characters from the past Mario games return. Everyone will have a chance to play as their favorite, be it Mario, Luigi, Wario, Yoshi, Peach, Diddy Kong, Bowser, Boo or others. In total, there are 18 characters that you can play as, a few of which must be unlocked. There are two differences between all of the characters: their class type as well as their power shots. In Mario Power Tennis, there are six different character classes: All-Around, Power, Speed, Technique, Tricky and Defense. All-Around characters, such as Mario, are well-rounded characters that are pretty good at everything. Power characters, such as Donkey Kong, usually hit harder serves and volleys, yet they also tend to be fairly slow. Speedy characters, such as Yoshi, excel at getting to the ball in time, although they lack power. Defensive characters are always nice to have in a doubles matches, as they are tall and have a large wingspan, thus allowing them to play upfront and reach many balls. An example of a defensive character is Waluigi. Technique characters, such as Peach, are very advantageous because they are good at hitting balls to the corners of the opponent's side of the net. Tricky characters, like Boo, are tricky solely because their volleys have more spin and curve to them than all other characters.
Power shots are new to the series, and they come in the offensive and defensive variety. Every four or five hits in a match, your character's tennis racket will begin to glow, which means that you can activate your power shot. If it becomes completely impossible for you to return a volley, you can use the power shot defensively. This will activate a short cut-scene where your player manages to hurl himself toward the ball, hit it and keep the action going. If you are positioned well, you can use it offensively. An offensive power shot involves the character hitting the ball with extra strength or trickery. All of the characters have unique power shots. Mario takes out a giant hammer and smashes the ball toward his opponent, while Donkey Kong launches himself out of a barrel and hits the ball with incredible strength. Most of the power shots also usually temporarily stun the opponent, which guarantees a point for you.
Throughout my first few matches, I absolutely loved the power shots. I'd switch characters as often as possible merely to check out all the different power shots that the various characters possess. However, the fact that in order to use the power shot, a three-second cut-scene must be shown each time turns into a nuisance. It actually disrupts the flow of the gameplay a bit, which is a shame. There is an option to turn off power shots altogether, however this takes away some fun from the game. I believe that the power shots themselves are a great addition to the series, yet I also believe that they could have been implemented in a better fashion.
In order to pull off these power shots, you must master the controls. In order to cater to the audiences of all ages, the control scheme is very user-friendly and you'll be used to all of the controls within your first match or two. There is a control scheme for beginners, which is too simple, so I recommend switching to the standard controls right away. With the standard controls, your characters will be hitting shots with a topspin, slice, lob shots, drop shots and power shots with simple presses of the A and B buttons. The impressive amount of shots also showed to me that the developers pulled off a good tennis game.