Nintendo 3DS owners have saved Princess Peach in Super Mario 3D Land, conquered Mario Kart 7’s Rainbow Road, & now patiently wait for New Super Mario Bros. 2 to release in August. It has been quite some time since we last saw a new entry to the Mario Tennis series but Nintendo will now be using the 3DS as a means to return the series to its former glory as Mario Tennis Open heads to the court on May 20th.
Mario Tennis Open doesn’t stray too far from the established Mario Tennis formula, yet minor alterations to the gameplay make for an experience that players of all skill levels can enjoy.
To an extent, series veterans may find Mario Tennis Open to be more simplistic than previous entries; however a more simplistic approach doesn’t necessarily mean the title lacks challenge, depth, or entertaining qualities. In fact, Mario Tennis Open excels with new ideas that take advantage of the 3DS hardware & bring new life to the series.
To be successful in tennis you need to catch your opponent off balance & be able to use a variety of shot types. Mario Tennis Open presents such opportunities by introducing a new game mechanic that creates some fun on-court chaos. On a return shot the area in which the ball lands will light up in a spectrum of color which matches a command on the touch-screen. The color indicates a special shot that you can perform by either using the touch-screen or pressing the corresponding face-button.
By using the touch-screen you’ll perform the move quicker; however using the face-button will allow you to charge the shot. Mixing the two together will help throw your opponent’s rhythm off & create an opening to score.
The best way to learn the game is through the single-player campaign or, better yet, through mini-games. Standards like Tournament and Exhibition mode are present & will deliver great challenge, but there is no better way to learn the game’s in-and-outs than through the crafty mini-games Mario Tennis Open features.
We got the opportunity to play through one of the mini-games, Super Mario Tennis, which was amazingly addictive & featured a very clever design. In order to hone your skills, this mini-game had the first level of Super Mario Bros. running along a wall & the goal was to aim your shot to hit enemies & collect coins. At first you’ll be focused on your shot location, but you’ll quickly become focused on completing the level from Super Mario Bros.
Much like Mario Kart 7, Nintendo is putting the 3DS’ online features to good use as Mario Tennis Open will sport a robust online mode allowing for ‘Singles’ & ‘Doubles’ style matches – be it with friends or against strangers. Similar to the Mario Kart Channel, there is a Clubhouse mode where you can customize your Mii.
By partaking in online & offline matches you’ll earn coins which can be used to buy better racquets & other tennis gear to help improve you on-court performance. The 3DS’ gyroscopic abilities can be used to change your viewing angle, also. By titling the 3DS up you’ll enter a Dynamic View behind the character.
Nintendo is looking to serve an ace when Mario Tennis Open sees release on May 20th as it has all the makings to be one of the best online 3DS titles of 2012.