Real Talk By: KJ
My introduction to Mario Tennis was through a local McDonald’s of all places. Though it provided shoddy service at best, as a kid I was able to look past it. Pokémon Stadium, Excitebike 64, Wave Race 64, and the game we’re reviewing today all demoed on separate TVs. This was an elite set-up. The timed demos would cut you off after a while. It would reset, my friends and I would wait. Go right back at it again. Fast-forward fifteen years, and we are still playing this game. Why is that?
Here is one of the best party play titles in the Nintendo 64’s lineup. Some could argue that MT is at the very top. Gameplay is speedy fast, and maintains a solid frame rate. Many Nintendo 64 games had trouble keeping it steady, so this is certainly a plus.
Members of the roster have different strengths and weaknesses. Picking a character like Donkey Kong isn’t just for Cosmetic purposes. The Big characters hit the ball as expected, sending it over the net fast. You always should judge distances before attempting a major hit. Mario and Luigi are a good combination of speed and power. Tiny competitors like Boo or baby Mario can move quickly, putting a nice spin on the ball, making it tough for the opposing team. We have All-Around Players, Technique, Speed, Power, and Tricky. Koopa Paratroopa can really confuse. He serves the ball really well. Great for getting early points on the board. Experimenting with the 16 character roster is a must.
Doubles and Single tourneys offer their own challenges. In single player no one is there to save you from a mistake. This is where most will find their favorite tennis player, as attributes will be showcased. Testing your patience to the max when hitting the star cup. The AI teammate holds its own, making only realistic and rare mistakes. There’s no replacing human competition, but this game does its best to accommodate you. Camelot made the difficulty ramp at a realistic pace, letting you really get used to the mechanics. When scoring players can run around the court celebrating, as the awesome replay camera gets really good angles on the action, The controls feel super tight. Player movement, Ball swatting, all feels great. Climb the rankings. Succeed, and the trophy is yours. During the credits, your highlight plays are shown.
Once you beat the main tournament mode, the job isn’t finished. Some of the unlocks include more courts and characters. Special modes are available too. One sees the player maintaining a rally while knocking the ball through gold rings. Gamers will have to hit the assigned number for each stage to move on. Another game type sees the court constantly wobbling from left to right. That’s not all, Camelot borrowed Mario Kart mechanics. Item boxes can be opened. Send Bananas and shells at opponents. This is an easy way to confuse, since the tennis ball remains in play. The infamous invincibility power-up is here as well.
We still play often. It can get really heated between my friends and I. If there is no N64 in your possession, Mario Tennis is available on the EShop. This version is golden when competing in tournaments against the computer. If you screwed up, take advantage of the Wii U saving option. So many things can happen in a match, you’ll end up having different outcomes all the time. Due to the arcadey feel, we can even recommend it to non-sports fans. I’ve seen many that could care-less about the sport, still having a great time on this one. In my opinion this remains the best version of Mario Tennis, and one of the all time great sports games. Let’s see how the Wii U version turns out. Camelot is returning to develop.
Mario Tennis Gets
5 Out of 5
+ Polished gameplay
+Sharp Team and Enemy AI
+Lots of unlockables
-More music variety would have been cool. No biggie.