|Release: May 20, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
The Special Games are where you'll find a little variety in the mix, although it has some minigames that grow stale quickly. Ring Shot is exactly what you'd expect, keeping the rally going while launching the ball through golden rings to collect points. Ink Showdown is a much tougher endeavor, as every shot must make it past your opponent, all the while Piranha Plants are spitting ink in your face. Galaxy Rally is an adorably fun challenge, where you're pitted against a Luma while trying to snag star fragments. To make it a little trickier, the floor disappears after being bounced on, and another shot in the same quadrant will send the ball into a black hole. But nostalgia takes the cake with Super Mario Tennis, which projects the original Super Mario Bros. platformer against a wall, and your goal is to squash Goombas, collect coins, and smash bricks while the level scrolls along.
After you've had your quick fill of single-player diversions, it's time to hit the multiplayer scene. There's not much to it, with a couple of Special Game offerings for local play, and exhibition for both local and online play. The online matchups can be ranked, with a regional leaderboard to keep track of your standing. It may be stripped down, but trying to work the corners of the court, looking for that small opening against a human opponent, leaves a much more satisfying taste with victory. Building your rank with wins requires a solid memorization of all the shots, as the pace allows no room for hesitation. Finding a random opponent takes only a few seconds, and after dozens of matches, I have yet to see even the slightest lag in the connection.
The audio/visual department keeps the pattern for Mario hybrid games intact. The whimsical animations, upbeat tunes, and familiar character inflections may seem redundant, but it honestly wouldn't feel like Mario if developers tried to mess with the formula.
It's nice to finally see Mario work up a sweat in the first real sports entry of the 3DS. However, despite the human element added with the multiplayer feature, Mario Tennis Open is severely lacking in content, shrinking the value of your purchase. If you like quick fixes of Mario fun, you'll find it with this entry, but if you're looking for full seasons of tennis matches and fine-tuned controls, you'd best look elsewhere.
Date: May 25, 2012