Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (Wii) Review

Review for New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Nintendo fans who have dabbled in a couple of Wii Sports sessions usually consider a Mario Tennis for Wii, and to satisfy racket folk the Japanese game creator gas brought back the GameCube classic complete with waggle control.

When you grasp the petite plastic remote in your hand one of the most obvious applications would be using it to whack something, give the air a good old fashioned thrashing. Tennis and baseball are ideal contenders, and as Wii Sports has shown there's a need for a good ol' round of motion tennis in the living room.

Unfortunately developers haven't quite cracked it yet, and whilst Wii Sports Tennis works well by taking the simple approach, it can be inaccurate at times. Nintendo have had several years to try and crack out a perfect tennis sim, and what better way to do so than revamping an existing title. And that's what Nintendo did, by taking Mario Power Tennis, originally designed for GameCube, stripping away traditional control and tagging on Wii remote support.

For the most part it seems to be nice bridge between the wrist flicking in Wii Sports and regular tennis labels: either let the computer fill in many of the gaps for you, use a more traditional approach where you're in near enough full control. To do this Camelot has thrown in four different remote options: easy, normal, technical and manual, each progressively adding more control to a user.

Making a shot is simple, mapped out in a clear enough way: flick up and down to serve, diagonally upwards for a little topspin, diagonally downwards for a slice. Others are fixed to remote flicks; straight up gains you height over opponents with a lob and a straight swipe down for a tricky drop shot. Generally copying over arm waving techniques from Wii Sports will nab you wins in early tournaments and easier difficulty levels, but problems arise when upping the difficulty and bringing in skilled human foes. The Wii remote just isn't that accurate enough.

Screenshot for New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Good tennis players throw in versatile shots, a few topspins, a handful of slices, and as a rally grows, maybe a drop shot or two and a well-earned smash. Flat shots are dealt with a horizontal swipe, smash, a vertical, and whilst all these moves do make sense on paper, the Wii remote's recognition can be very off at times. There are six different shots to pull off, and where the exact one would be critical for earning a point, the wrong one could still work, but then quite easily lose the point.

What hasn't been majorly discussed is that you can still move using the d-pad on the remote if there isn't a spare nunchuck lying about. This setup has been tried, and failed, in previous mini-game filled Wii titles, however here it works out nicely, especially where finding 4 nunchuck could be a problem. To counter problems with its placement on the remote, auto movement kicks in to avoid mistiming. For example you want to wrap up a rally by getting close to the net: d-pad quickly taps up, and whilst you're getting ready to time that crucial shot, the computer will move to the right spot for you. It's no way near as natural as an analogue stick on a separate hand, but it's a surprisingly smooth compromise.

Tie in a nunchuck and you're off to freely move about and for the most part it's a smooth, simple transition from a regular controller - run around with the stick then waggle about your remote to get your balls where they need to be. Even with the nunchuck it's still a little tricky to guarantee the exact shot you're aiming for, the sport's quick thinking and frantic nature sometimes causing the remote to misread your actions. After some play time these mistakes become less and less, nevertheless there's still that tendency to accidentally swing in the wrong way.

Aside from the revived control the remainder of the game is identical to the GameCube original, there are a few visual improvements and interface changes but the general gameplay remains the same. It's a standard tennis simulator, following the core rules, adding in special offensive/defensive moves dubbed "Power Shots", and a handful of gimmick courts in addition to the regular clay and grass roster.

Power shots are much like marmite to fans; some loved the inclusion of something different and fun during play, but others felt these moves broke up the smooth flow. For the most part, it's still an enjoyable addition now as it was then, and can still be turned off at the pre-match stage. The same applies to gimmick arenas, courts that range from having Donkey Kong's alligators to the terrifying ghosts that inhabit Luigi's Mansion, these can help or hinder, varying up the standard gameplay with a little dose of luck. Both power shots and gimmicks don't necessarily add a major bulk to the game, but it's a welcome addition that can be switched off at any time.

Screenshot for New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Besides the regular swing about is the return of Ring Shot, where you're earning points for placing balls through various on-screen rings and the strung-together item mode where you'd be firing shells and bananas at your opponents. Ring shot is a little trickier this time round again due to the occasional Wii-remote misreading - the best shots are crucial here - and so you'd be far more comfortable playing button-mapped shots. Item battle on the other hand neither gains nor falters from motion play; it still remains fairly basic, but is a refreshing alternative to standard play.

Power Tennis's major goal is to win tournaments; there's no character progression or development, just an increase in difficulty. As in past Mario Tennis servings, they can be taken on in singles, doubles and gimmicks, rewarding extra courts and characters for your efforts. Take a quick break with some fairly standard but enjoyable mini-games - splattering paint on Mario's cheerful mug, tennis tic-tac-toe and other wacky offerings. Good, but again hindered by Wii-remote mishaps.

Visually Mario Power Tennis was one of the better looking titles on the ol' purple box of tricks, and with its leap onto the Wii it still holds up as a neat package. The menus have been tweaked slightly to have some continuity with the Wii's branding and style, characters and courts well designed and animated. You may not be able to see each blade of grass sway through a gentle breeze, but even years later Nintendo's flagship tennis series still oozes a fun and playful image. The action is improved ever so slightly with widescreen support and 480p; an addition that makes the slick animation that little bit better. We could have asked for a little texture improvement, and refinement, but it as it is, Mario Power Tennis even now has a lot of shine in the visual department.

Screenshot for New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The sound quality has too been transferred across; it's certainly nothing out of the ordinary, but does offer some Nintendo-styled memorable tunes that you may end up humming a little while after. It's appropriate, cheerful and there's nothing here that'll force a sound muting, but there is the option to disable background music. The ability to remap sound effects to the TV screen would have been beneficial: by default they'll chime from the remote, can be sorted through the Wii's menu but not through the game itself. Each thwack and swipe, like in Wii Sports, sound fine through the remote but hearing irritating character squeals and shorts can put off the most patient of gamers.

Mario Power Tennis was and is a good entry to the series, but misses out on opportunities taken by its smaller brothers on the GameBoy Colour and Advance, for example their robust career modes and character development. As a package its good fun, and adds that little extra over other tennis titles that have so far missed the ball. It's retained the varied gameplay modes and options by moving over to the Wii, but unfortunately is let down by Nintendo / Camelot's implementation of the remote. It does work for those wanting a little more than Wii Sports, but for core series fans and those who pump up the difficulty level it staggers with unpredictable controls.

Screenshot for New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

As solid and enjoyable as Mario Tennis has always been, simple to pick up and play with plenty of difficulty for series veterans. The reduced score comes with the unpredictable Wii remote; it works but has the tendency to misread your moments from time to time, which at later stages and competitions can cause problems and frustration.

Graphics

Fluid animation, bright and colourful designs make an enjoyable experience on the eyes. As one of the better-looking GameCube titles, Mario Power Tennis still holds up today, and does the job well.

Sound

There's nothing to shout about - it's packed to the brim with cheerful Nintendo sports-esque tunes, some will get you humming days after, but in general a decent-sounding playlist. The added effects to the Wii remote are a little hit and miss, but do well to enhance the experience.

Value

The single player mode lasts a fair bit of time with plenty of cups to earn and mini-games to work through, but with the lack of a career/character development mode and online support there's little after to keep players occupied. Invite over a few friends and the game becomes a worthy Wii Sports substitute.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis is a worthy addition to the Wii's catalogue. Nintendo had a strong title to work with, and although there are issues with control, the game has translated over very well.

With 2009 set to be a MotionPlus year, and a ground-up Mario Tennis bound to appear at some point, it maybe worth holding out for something new. Those gagging for Tennis action, or something that offers a little more than Wii Sports, should consider Nintendo / Camelot's effort as one of the better sports titles out there.

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10.03.2009

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Developer

Camelot

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sadly the Wii Remote's erroneous moments killed this for me. I always preferred Mario Tennis 64 to the GC original of this anyway, so throwing in a poor control set-up totally killed my interest VERY quickly. Shame this is already far out-selling the Pikmin upgrade :-(

Fair review, though, Jorge - no doubt some will overlook the niggles and still really get a lot of enjoyment from the game.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think at the easier levels it's fine, but when you need a guaranteed drop-shot, or lob it can become really irritating when it's not quite vertically up and so on, and as you're spending more time thinking about the motion it detracts from it a fair bit.

I reckon those who are getting into Mario Tennis, and enjoy Wii tennis can get enough out of this, but there are others that are bound to be better lol.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
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We'll have to see how EA's MotionPlus Tennis game handles. Smilie

Staff Member

wAyNe - sTaRT said:
We'll have to see how EA's MotionPlus Tennis game handles. Smilie


According to IGN's podcast, it handles very well and they haven't had the chance to use the Wii Motion Plus yet Smilie,

Anyway, nice review, I wasn't expecting it to get higher than 7 anyway since the GC original got around that score when it first came out. Here's hoping for an actual Wii version of Mario Tennis with Motion+ and all.

Stuart Lawrence
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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Ya - GC version got an 8 here on C3 I think. I think this version holds up to the test of time, and as a standalone game - getting slightly lower due to issues with control.

Still, tis the best Wii tennis game out there so far. Nintendo should perhaps have released this a little earlier methinks.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I loved the GC version but I canny see me picking this up. The whole 'Play on Wii' ranges stinks to me.

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Mr. T said:
I loved the GC version but I canny see me picking this up. The whole 'Play on Wii' ranges stinks to me.

Pikmin doesn't, or Chibi Robo.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Pikmin 2 and Chibi-Robo are the only Play on Wii games that I feel are completely justified. It's hard to find those games even second hand for less than £40, but when they're released on Wii they'll be £30, and plentiful in stock.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

£30 is still to pricey in my eyes.

I never really liked the GC version anyway, the GBA version was great and the N64 was gold in my eyes. Mario Tennis always seems to get released late into a consoles life cycle so i would expect to see a ground up mario tennis practically until the console is dead...which at the rate the Wii is going isnt going to be until 2013!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

The Wii version (proper one) really needs a career mode! The GB/A ones had em, and they're awesome!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

GBA advance version was probably my favourite game on GBA ever. I played it to death. Smilie

Not a single game in the 'New Play Control' range that I don't already have on GC, so I probably won't be getting any of them. Sound good for those who didn't play them originally though, especially the rarer ones like Chibi-robo and Pikmin 2.

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Very Good Review, Found it helpful. I've Ordered this game i'm getting it for Easter!! lolage...

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