Mario Power Tennis (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 27.02.2005

Review for Mario Power Tennis on GameCube

Camelot has become a legendary company in the eyes of many a Nintendo fan, with its stellar work in both the RPG and cartoon-sports field. Now the company is back on the GameCube, after the highly successfully Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, this time with the latest in plumber-themed court action, Mario Power Tennis. But are we looking at a straight ace or a double fault? Find out by reading on...

Nintendo's sports games have no storyline, but if you follow the introductory video clip shown in Power Tennis you will gather that the usual tournament is about to begin, with the crazy Wario and Waluigi being knocked out early on, then starting some intense training with Bowser in order to make a come back against Peach, Yoshi and the various other characters and finally reach the ultimate goal of Mario and Luigi. Basically it is 'play tennis to win' and that is all, but in all honesty do you really need any more, since the full RPG version will be coming in portable form later this year?

Screenshot for Mario Power Tennis on GameCube

The highlight of the graphical prowess that Mario Power Tennis has lies in the CG introductory sequence. Just like the one in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour was, this is simply a jaw-dropping, breath-taking 3D cartoon that will having you chuckling to yourself at the same time thanks to Camelot's wacky humour. Thankfully the in-game graphics do not let matters slide once you have witnessed the beginning footage. Each character is represented in a 3D form marginally more impressive than the Golf versions and the courts are majestically created, with so many themed-courts that all look like they have been literally ripped out of the games they are paying homage too. The designers at Camelot certainly flexed their skills for this outing, and for that we are extremely grateful!

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the audio aspect of the game, with Camelot churning out some nice reworkings of familiar themes that are mainly used when viewing the special themed court, but then disappear once a match begins. What we are then 'treated' to is what can only be described as Japanese sport-synth. Now, whilst it is pleasant enough, the new tunes are nothing too different from the MIDI from back on the N64. Thankfully, the use of voice acting and sound effects make up for the lack of cutting edge tunes, with some hilarious snippets of speech from each of the characters and highly appropriate effects that sound superb pumping through your stereo system. A mixed bag on the whole, but marginally on the right side of the fence!

Screenshot for Mario Power Tennis on GameCube

The attraction of Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64 was the game's basic simplicity, with different combinations of the A and B buttons being the main racquet control and the analogue stick moving your characters around. Also there were one or two extra modes, but the meat of the game lay in its Tournament and beating out the Star versions of the various Nintendo characters that lined up against you. Now, though, Camelot has scrapped the semi-serious nature and gone for out-and-out craziness. This has its upside, but also proves to detract from the overall experience in some ways. People turning up at Power Tennis's door expecting pure tennis may be in for a shock.

The main modes of play come in the form of the usual Exhibition games, where you can set up a quick match; the Tournament, which splits into either a straight-laced World Open or the crazy antics of the Gimmick Masters; and the Special Games, which consist of several inventive mini-games based around the idea of hitting a ball against various things. The first two are laid out in a Mario Kart fashion, with Mushroom, Flower and Star Cups initially available; the second, however, is far more interesting to veterans. The mini-games are time and point challenges, with a Luigi's Mansion arena having you hit the ball at various ghosts trying to escape from pictures to bother you; DK's Jungle court requiring the player to prevent their balloons from being burst by the critters climbing up towards them, either by hitting the tennis ball at them or hitting certain panels to divert their path; and Wario's Factory, in which you must hit more tennis balls into the mouth of a raging Chomp than your opponents, using various crafty methods. There are several more and they are all engaging and frustrating to the same degree, but all prove to be worthy additions to the usual tennis play.

There are also some features, thought, that really make you sit back and wonder 'Why were they put in?' Sure, the new power shots are very handy, with your racquet starting to glow you can tap the relevant button to start off one of two special animations, each unique to the respective characters, with the end result being usually disastrous to the opponent. However, the animations cannot be turned off without switching the power shots off completely, which is a major oversight as they are useful, but too many of the little cut-scenes leave everyone bewildered and disorientated, resulting in the ball simply going out of play and looks of 'Huh?' will appear on you and your friends' faces. The same goes for the Gimmick Courts, with the Luigi's Mansion one being a real pain because of the constant flashing lights and colourful ghosts floating around meaning that actually following the ball is near impossible. After reading an interview with Camelot where they stated they had scrapped the initial straight-up version of Mario Power Tennis to make it more 'wacky', you might wonder if the right choice was in fact made.

Screenshot for Mario Power Tennis on GameCube

The controls are still as sharp as ever, though, with the usual 'A' and 'B' returning for forehand and backhand shots, with extra power by double tapping 'A' or 'B' and doing various combinations to pull off lobs and slices. But now you can also throw yourself at the ball as well, or choose between the offensive or defensive power shots by pressing either 'R' + 'A' or 'R' + 'B'. For example, Daisy can either swim across court to tap the ball over the net or change her racquet into a large flower that send the opponent into a spin when trying to return from the shot. There is a simplicity that means anyone can pick up the game, yet there is also the extra depth that will ensure fans of the N64 version do not become too accustomed to the proceedings so quickly that they grow tired easily.

On the longevity side of the game, there is more than enough value for money available in the tiny little GameCube disc. The Special Games alone will keep most people more than happy, but the number of secret courts, players and other extras that can be obtained by playing through the various modes make this one exceptional title. But that is without even mentioning the multiplayer aspect! Get even just one friend to join you in a match is brilliant fun...bring another two to bump the total up to the full four and wow! Just like the original on the N64, four-player Mario Tennis can last you forever and ever. Camelot has managed to take the addictive nature of the first game and transplanted it straight onto the GameCube, including the excellent little mini games for good measure. Get tired of this in a short time and you clearly are not a proper Mario Tennis fan. As for the difficulty level, beware, as this is the only downside. Games prove immensely easy to begin with, but very quickly ramp up to seemingly impossible levels. Nothing too worrisome, but heed the warning nonetheless...

Screenshot for Mario Power Tennis on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Mario Tennis on the N64 was a classic, so Camelot had a steep hill to climb with this version. In some ways it has more than reached the peak, but there are a few stumbling points overall. However, veterans and newcomers can equally find great enjoyment with Power Tennis, especially since there are no real competitors on the GameCube!

Developer

Camelot

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (6 Votes)

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

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