Mario Tennis Open Review

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It’s time to take a look at a Mario Tennis game that was pretty much overshadowed the instant it came out. That’s because it’s basically the same as playing the Gamecube game except with no cutscenes and less games. As a result, there is little reason to buy this game unless you desperately want to play it on the go. Nonetheless, it was only 10 dollars so I figured..why not? It was basically free thanks to a coupon and I’m glad I got it. The game doesn’t do anything unique, but it still has good tennis fundamentals.

There is no story mode of course and so the closest thing is the traditional Tournaments. There are 8 tournaments and each tournament has 3 rounds. Complete the first 4 to unlock the star version of the character you are playing. The battles never actually get too tough. One thing I noticed about the AI is that if you let them get to the ball then you are unlikely to win a rally against them. Fortunately they can’t seem to handle your serve on any level so you can easily score with your return. If you don’t then you will most likely have lost the point. That adds a little extra tension to the rounds I would say.

You can complete all of the tournaments in a little under 2 hours. To help with the replay value, you can do that with every character in order to get all of their Star Forms and some more items for the shop. Every time you win a match a random item is unlocked for purchase. The annoying thing is that the tournaments don’t get you any money though. To earn money you have to play the minigames. They are surprisingly difficult though so clearing all of them could take some time. This way at least you are earning money and accomplishing at the same time. That’s a plus right? Before talking about the minigames, I suppose I should mention that we also have Doubles tournaments. I was never the biggest fan of doubles and didn’t really go into that mode, but it’s sure to add more length to the game. As per always with sport games, the true replay value occurs if you have someone to play with. Otherwise you likely won’t end up sticking with the game for very long. I find it telling that the game is only 10 dollars when Nintendo games rarely go down in price until a very long time has passed.

There are 4 minigames. One has you relive some of the old 2D Mario levels as you try to keep a rally going while going through the level. It’s a fun concept, but a little too slow for my liking. The level goes by incredibly slowly so it’s more tedious than difficult. Ideally you want to have a good mix of both. It’s probably my least favorite minigame. Then we have Coin Mode. You have to shoot through the rings and gain as many coins as possible. This one is probably the most rigged as it will largely depend on your opponent. As a result I actually lost the Silver version of this game. It’s a decent concept, but I don’t care for the execution.

Time for the 2 best minigames. One is a Rally where you have to keep returning the ball without letting the computer touch it. This one’s actually pretty fun and it’ll definitely test your reaction times as the plants fire the ball at you. You won’t know which one is shooting until the very end. Finally, the best minigame is the rally one. You have to keep hitting a ball back and forth as parts of the stage vanish. This game is taken directly from the Gamecube one and so you can probably see why it is the best. It was just thought through very well and is the right blend of challenging and length. The time goes by slowly at first, but by the end you’ll barely notice. These minigames may not be much, but at least they give the game a little more content.

I haven’t talked much about the actual gameplay, but that’s mainly because there isn’t a lot to be said. It’s a very standard tennis game. You feel the power behind each hit and have different options on how to strike the ball. You fire off a high one, a low one, or a standard shot. You do seem to have special attacks, but I couldn’t figure out how to use them and didn’t even need them in the end so that’s why I didn’t try very hard. Perhaps I would have needed it against Ace level opponents at some point. The game has a dynamic camera view option, but I recommend turning it off. It’s distracting to suddenly have the game zoom in when you head to the net. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea, but it was probably the same person who doesn’t give the game the option to remember your choice. As such, you have to turn it off again after each match. It seemed really random though so at least you don’t have to worry about it happening after every match. Otherwise, I have no qualms with the actual gameplay, it’s what you would expect from a Tennis title.

The graphics look really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the effort went here although perhaps the character models were just grabbed from somewhere. As there aren’t any real cutscenes it probably wasn’t too hard to just focus on the models. Every character looks to be on point and the stages look sharp as well. The game delivers on this front. When it comes to the soundtrack, it’s fairly decent but forgettable as far as Mario games go. You likely won’t remember it all that well by the time you finish the game.

Overall, Mario Tennis Open is a good game. The Tennis gameplay is solid and that’s really what counts. There just isn’t any extra content to keep you busy. Your attention will only stay on this game for as long as you enjoy playing tennis. I suppose collecting all of the items could help if you’re really a serious collector, but there isn’t a whole lot of point to getting it all otherwise. If you see it in stores for a fair price then I recommend checking it out. I can’t imagine grabbing it at full price though. No matter how fun Tennis is, it just wouldn’t have been worth it.

Overall 7/10

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Sega Superstars Tennis Review

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It’s time to review a PS3 game that I’ve had on the backburner for quite a while now. This is a game that I got for 5 dollars at Gamestop and that’s always a pretty good bargain for a game. We can’t underestimate how good a PS3 Sonic game can be after the big one in 2006. So, I stepped into the game world and witnessed some great gameplay, but a story mode that left much to be desired.

See, the “story mode” in this game is called Superstar Mode. Instead of making it your typical career mode like in most tennis games, this one was totally made up of minigames. That’s strange right? It may be appealing for a little while, but there are so many levels in Superstar mode that it can get tedious. There is the occasional match or tournament, but mostly your tasks include things like: Shoot the balls into the portal, Shoot the moving objects, Shoot the ground to alter the path, etc. Minigames can be fun because they are short and sweet as they distract you from the tough story mode. The point is lost when there is no main mode. There is a separate tournament mode in the game, but it’s more like Super Smash Bros’ tournament mode.

So, Superstars mode wasn’t really that enjoyable for me. It definitely could have been handled a lot better. The cast of characters isn’t very impressive either. There are around 20 characters in the game and you typically expect a little more than that. Mario Power Tennis had a similar amount and that came out many years ago. (Of course, it was on the Gamecube so that could explain why it was so great) The cast isn’t terribly important since everyone will want to be Shadow or Sonic, (Or at least, I always want to play as them) but more options would have been preferable. I guess Sega didn’t want this to be thought of as Sonic tennis in the end so they quickly stopped themselves from adding more of them. Otherwise, Metal Sonic would have been a pretty great addition to the cast.

The gameplay for the main games is essentially the same as Virtua Tennis. (Which is a very good thing) I assume that you are familiar with the rules of tennis. After that, you really have a good understanding of the gameplay. Each character has a super move that can be used once in a while. Sonic’s allows you to transform into Super Sonic. You gain a lot of speed and all of the balls that you hit will gain a pretty mean spin. It’s important to lunge for those balls right away since they can be impossible to hit once they really get going. Sonic’s super attack is pretty cool, but I’m not familiar with most of the others. I typically finished off my opponents before they could use theirs. I definitely find the gameplay to be pretty enjoyable. It’s a lot more technical than Mario Power Tennis and that can be a good or bad thing. There are definitely pros and cons to both styles. This one is more realistic, but you could really feel the power behind the blows in Mario Tennis. I’m a pretty big fan of both types of gameplay so I’m fine either way. Tennis is likely second to Football when it comes to sport gameplay.

The graphics are decently good. The character models look pretty great and almost as if they were ripped from the 2006 game. They were definitely very well done..at least for the Sonic characters. Others like Alex The Kidd and Nights didn’t look quite as good, but they were good enough. The backgrounds and effects were pretty standard. Not bad though and you could still tell that you were playing a PS3 game. I suppose that’s all I can ask for from a sports spinoff anyway.

The themes in the game are decently catchy. I found them to be a little limited, but it sounds pretty good when you’re actually engaged in the matches. Again, I would say that it was pretty standard. Perhaps I’d give it a 6/10 at the most. The soundtrack gets you in the mood to play tennis and that is the main goal for the soundtrack.

In terms of replay value, Sega Tennis does a fine job. It’s mostly be default since it is a tennis game and it has a multiplayer option. Playing against someone else will always be fun in this style, which is why I say that this game has replay value. Otherwise, there really isn’t much to do once you beat Superstar mode. The computers will become pretty easy for you at that point and there is nothing else to unlock. If you don’t have anyone to play with, then I would consider this game to be more of a 6. (Or a high 5) It should also be noted that this is one of the games that came out before the Playstation 3 began to add trophies to every game. That also takes away a chunk out of the replay value.

Overall, This game is not going to last you for a very long time. The counter says that it only took me 2h:30m to beat the game. It definitely took me longer than that, but I guess the loading times really add up. The only way that this game will help you in the long run is if you take the game up on its multiplayer option. Superstars mode can only last for so long after all and it’s not very enjoyable. The rest of the game is pretty solid though and the gameplay is the important part. The game is currently going for less than 5 dollars so that’s also a good reason to go for it. I would recommend Mario Power Tennis more than this one so I have to give Nintendo the win this time. There’s no reason why Sega cannot improve though so I’m looking forward to their next tennis game. It’ll be fun to compare the racing title to Mario Kart as well someday.

Overall 7/10