Mario Power Tennis was a quality game last generation on the GameCube, as it combined the attention to detail we’ve come to expect from developer Camelot Software Planning as well as a detailed look at the Mario universe in both characterization and locations. You could play along with the “Gimmicks”, which were kind of like mini-game styled courts, or you could play on more traditional courts without any of the video game frills for a realistic game of tennis, just with Koopa Troopas and Boos instead of Roger Federer.
It’s not a surprise that Nintendo would choose to release this game as one of its New Play Control! Titles, as motion controlled tennis is something we know works on the system just from all of our initial experiences with Wii Sports’ Tennis. What may come as a surprise to you though is that at times, the controls do not work as well as their GameCube counterparts. That seems to go against one of the key points of reintroducing the game.
Mar. 9, 2009
That’s not to say that the Wii version of Mario Power Tennis is a bad game. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a better tennis game on the system if you were to walk into a store today, but that also says a lot about the competition-Sega Superstars Tennis tried to be the Sega version of Mario Power Tennis, but it failed to execute on a level that would satisfy anyone but the younger crowd due to poor mini-games and iffy controls.
Let’s get to the basics of Mario Power Tennis: it is both a hyperbolic representation of tennis and a realistic tennis experience, depending on how you configure the settings. Using characters from the Mario video games and spin-offs, as well as courts designed after many well-known locations from those games, you can play exhibition matches, tournaments, or mini-games that are meant to enhance your skill and lengthen the game experience. You can play alone or with up to four players in two-on-two doubles matches.
There are four different control schemes available for you in this new version of the game, with Easy having your power shot and lunging towards the ball done automatically, while Manual has you control everything on your own. Normal and Technical fall somewhere in between the other two settings as far as how much you have to do and how much is done for you automatically. In order to get used to the controls, you can start with easy to figure out the basics, and then change these options anytime before a match. The four control schemes work well, though Manual can be a hassle when the Wii Mote controls are not being as responsive as you would like them to be.
In addition to the different control types, you also have four levels of difficulty to set the AI at. This allows you to have a more challenging experience, and unlike the aforementioned Sega Superstars Tennis, the AI is at times pretty good in this game, and will avoid falling for simple tricks, requiring you to put a bit of strategy into your shots instead of just wailing on the ball as hard as you can.
As for what you can do, if you swing the remote diagonally upward you get a hard hit forehand shot, diagonally downward gets you a backhand, you swing straight across for a regular shot, straight up for a lob, and straight down for a drop shot right over the net. If a star appears under your feet, you can swing up to get a smash shot. Going back and forth with your opponent will charge up your power gauge, which when full will allow you to perform your power shot. This leads to an animation of your character performing one of the two moves they have; these shots add a level of strategy, as you need to defend against them (or defend against them occurring in the first place) but if you would like to play without them, you can set that option in the pre-match menu.