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Mario's Tennis Review

1/1/13 3:57pm
tl;dr

My review of Mario's Tennis on the Virtual Boy; the system's pack in title.

Release: August 14, 1995              Virtual Boy

 

Since I got my Virtual Boy for Xmas I can finally get down to creating some blogs relating to the console, the first of which will be a review of the VB’s pack-in title, Mario’s Tennis. When I got my red machine one of the games it came with was Mario’s Tennis which would become the first entry in the Mario Tennis series which still continues today with Mario Tennis Open on the 3DS which came out back in May of 2012. 

Story

Well it's a sports game, so their isn't much of a story if any. However, the game manual does have a short introduction about the game.

 

On the Cort
"There has never been a tennis game like Mario's Tennis. Mario, Yoshi and a whole cast of your favorite characters move freely around a completely three dimensional tennis cort. If you move to the net, and your opponet lobs, the ball seems to actually fly over your head. There has never been a game that was able to realistically create the feeling of depth on the cort. You'll find yourself trying to turn around and check the line when your opponet slams a passing shot down the line. It's time to prove that you can serve, volley and rally with the best of them!"

Other Information

  • This game packaged with every Virtual Boy console. 
  • Birdo was at one point going to be a playable character.

Gameplay

 

If you’ve played a video game version of Tennis before than you should be able to get into this game easily and even if you haven’t the game is still easy to get into game play. The controls are easy to use. You move with the left D-Pad, press A to perform groundstrokes and if the ball is overhead, pressing A will automatically perform an overhead smash. Pressing B will lob the ball and if you’re near the net your character will  automatically volley. You can pause the game by pressing START; while paused you can press SELECT to bring up the Virtual Boy start up screen if you need to adjust the IPD or focus.

 

The game offers you a variety of playing options: picking between singles or doubles, play against a computer or Tournament mode, difficulty setting, match sets, and which of the seven characters you want to play as. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses when out on the field.

  • Mario is the average player. His speed and racquet contact area are average.
  • Lugi is similar to Mario, but he has better coverage of the cort since he is faster.
  • Princess Toadstool has a large racquet contact area, but she lacks speed.
  • Yoshi is the fastest, but his racquet coverage is small.
  • Toad has good speed, but his coverage isn't very big. He can lunge at tough shots.
  • Koopa Troopa is slower, but he has a large racquet contact area. Like Toad, he can lunge at tough shots.
  • DK Jr. is the slowest of all the players and has a smaller racquet area, but he has the strongest groundstrokes.

 

With these options you may be wondering where’s the two player mode? Unfortunately the game is only single player, but at least it gives you a lot of options to play. Even if it did offer two player mode, no official link cable was created due to the VB's short life.

Difficulty

It varies depending on what difficulty setting you are playing the game. I found the doubles mode to be harder even on easy mode since you COM partner may not go for the ball since they to are set to easy. I will give credit to the COM AI since if you move to the other side of the tennis cort your partner will move to the opposite side immediately.

Graphics

Since this is the Virtual Boy don't expect me to talk about colors, like the Game Boy, the Virtual Boy only has four shades of one color (red) so I'll be taking more about the details of the graphics. The charcter models look great. They're well detailed and are well animated, showing how the Virtual Boy is more powerful than the Game Boy. Characters have different amimations depending on if you score a point, score a point after doing an overhead smash, and if the other player scores a point.

The tennis cort isn't very special, but the scaling is good. The 3D effects are average here; nothing feels like it's poping twords me after the intro. Backgrounds are simple, but look nice. Sometimes something will be in the sky like an Albatoss from Super Mario Bros. 2 or an ariship from Super Mario Bros. 3 to try to destract you from the game.

Unfortunately most screenshots you see of VB games make them look blurry, but when you see them for yourself, the graphics are very sharp.

Music

it's cheerful and goes with the action of playing tennis. Depending on if you're playing singles or doubles you will get different tracks of music to listen to. Some people may find the tunes to be a little repetative after playing the game for extended periods of time.

     

Doubles Match 1 (Left) and Doules Match 2 (Right)

     

Match Results (Left) and Singles Match 2 (Right)

Replayvalue

I enjoy playing this game, but it doesn't have much to differentiate itself from other Tennis games except that it may be the first "3D" tennis game. With only 22 games on the Virtual Boy though and it being the only tennis game of the seven sports games you may be going back and playing this occasionally. Also with the various options of playing tennis you can tryout which way you like to play Mario's Tennis.

Overall

For a pack in title, Mario's Tennis does an adequate job at showing the 3D effects of the Virtual Boy, but when you take a step back from the game it's basically Mario's Pong. It isn't a bad thing since the game is still enjoyable to play though. The game has great controls that are easy to understand and fitting tunes that go with what you're playing. The graphics are well animated and detailed although the tennis cort seems like it could've used a bit more detail.

Mario's Tennis scores a 6/10 (Above Average). The other games in the series offer more gameplay elements so I would recommend playing those over this. If you own a Virtual Boy though I would highly recommend picking it up if you haven't already. Also if you wan to just try out the first Mario Tennis game you can get an emulator and play it since Virtual Boy's are costly. A copy of Mario's Tennis goes for about $11 on eBay.

 

Thanks for reading my first review of a Virtual Boy game. Feel free to leave a comment.

MegaSilverX1

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