Review: Mario Tennis Open

Review: Mario Tennis Open

Mario and friends are back for their 6th installment in the Mario Tennis series, and unfortunately the series has taken one too many steps back in this new 3DS title from Camelot.

Mario Tennis Open has you playing through a plethora of tournaments as your favorite characters from the Mario Universe in an attempt to grab the much sought after trophy at the end. Its a typical sports game setup that we have all come to expect. As you play through the game, you unlock new tournaments to play which get progressively more difficult as you advance. However, the difficulty does not ramp up until much later in the game, and you can almost win blind folded up until then.

The single player is split up into three modes, Singles and Doubles and Special. Singles has you playing one on one against the AI, and doubles, as you might expect has you facing off against two with an AI partner. Out of the two options, Singles is by far the best as your AI partner is completely incompetent and might as well not even exist. Special modes are essentially minigames, and these are easily the most fun that you can have from the title. These range from a Mario Galaxy themed game to a tennis remake of the original Mario on the NES. These are great diversions from the main game, and are the only way to obtain coins. It is a shame there are only three available, since it could have added quite a bit of replay value.

As you progress through the game, you will unlock new pieces of equipment that can be bought from the shop. These options change the stats of the wearer, allowing you to customise your play experience. But here lies the main issue with the system, these new pieces of equipment can only be used by your Mii meaning you have no incentive to play as any other character. Since there is no other way to improve your stats, or customise your characters, this is a serious step back from the earlier installments which had light RPG mechanics to keep you enthralled.

The negatives don’t stop there unfortunately. The controls come in two flavours, standard and gyro. Standard is perfectly fine, with movement allocated to the analogue stick and various shots being used with button inputs. The issue however, is the fact that the X button automatically uses the best shot in any given situation, removing any sense of strategy or skill. Gyro is even worse for this, as you lose the ability to move your character and all you do is spam the X button to win.

Further step backs can be found in the gameplay itself. Mario sports titles are renowned for their use of crazy special moves and fun court gimmicks. None of these are present in this game, and it ultimately leads to a dull, repetitive experience with very little incentive to continue you playing.

The package could have been saved by a solid multiplayer experience, but unfortunately it also falls flat on its face. Local Play is limited to multicart as opposed to Download Play which limits its functionality and Online is completely broken thanks to Gyro controls being allowed, making for unbeatable opponents.

On the plus side, the game looks and sounds great, especially with the over the shoulder perspective used with the Gyro turned on. The 3D is also well implemented, but these are minor positives in a sea of mediocrity.

Overall Mario Tennis Open is a massive step back for the series. Boring single player, broken multiplayer, lack of customisation and the removal of everything that made the past titles great leaves you with a game not worth your time or money.

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