System: Game Boy Color
Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Released: January 2001
Genre: Sports (Tennis)
Capabilities: Link Cable Compatible, Transfer Pak Compatible
In Memory of Dale Earnheardt
This review is dedicated to my favorite Nascar driver, Dale Earnheardt. Who just died yesterday (2/18/2001) in a fatal car crash on the final turn of the final lap of the Daytona 500. He has always been my favorite stock car racer. So RIP Mr. Earnheardt. This ones for you.
Camelot and the gang are back for another round of Nintendo sports mania, this time they give us Tennis action with Mario Tennis. Camelot, the same people who developed the N64 version of the game, also made the excellent N64 and Game Boy Color versions of Mario Golf last year. The GB version of Mario Golf was completely different from the N64 version, removing the whole fantasy/arcade concept in the N64 game, and replacing it with more of a sim/RPG type feel by adding such elements as character levels, storylines, and experience points. Will it deliver the same kind of play to Mario Tennis? Lets get onto the review and find out.
Well, I gotta admit, Camelot outdid themselves once again, by delivering some of the best visuals Ive ever seen on the GB Color. Now these are suppose to be 8-Bit graphics, but because of the high amount of detail on the characters like eyes, clothing designs, and one of the best looking tennis courts out their, it can easily be passed up as a 16-bit game at first glance. While on the court, the game runs at a fast rate with singles and both doubles action. If you look at everything going on, itll be hard to believe the GB Color can handle this, I mean, theres 4 players, all with a high amount of detail on them, plus the court looks great with chalked white lines marking the boundaries, and you got scores for both teams, and with all this going on, you would think this would get hard on your eyes, but does it? Nope, not a chance. Not even a single flicker. Just some of the best graphics on the GBC hands down.
Another nice addition is the RPG-like buildings in the game. I swear, even though the buildings in here are tennis training centers and dormitories, they look like they came right out of an early Final Fantasy game! The menus are nicely laid out and easy to navigate, so youll always know what type of game mode you are playing. Another thing I like in here is the animation for this game, I mean you see players leaping for shots that are out of their reach. Youre just not use to that in most Game Boy Tennis games. Another nice little extra is the characters emotions after every ball, like crying if they miss a shot and a cheering if they make a shot.
If you remembered the cheery type of music in Mario Golf, its pretty much the same kind of stuff that was in that game. Not that its bad anything, its good for Game Boy standards, and in a way, it fits the Tennis theme well. And I pretty much dont even pay attention to the music while playing a round of tennis, and I doubt you will either. The game also has some tunes that you would find off an old NES RPG game while youre exploring the tennis academy. Sound effects are simple, yet get the job done.
The controls are fairly easy to learn. Control pad moves around your character, A and B buttons hit the ball. Your character might seem a little bit sluggish for moving around the court at first, but thats because each character has their own set of attributes, like Donkey Kong may be slow, but really powerful, and Baby Mario is pretty fast, but also very weak. Controls can get a bit complex if you really want to learn how to play technical tennis. Like if you hold down A or B for a few seconds your player will stay still and flash, indicating theyre powering up, let go just at the right second and unleash a power shot, however, this trick can happen accidentally at times and can cause a few miss shots, which proves to be quite tedious. You can do other type of shots in the game like a lob shot by hitting A, right, B. Or just give the ball a slight tap to make your opponent run up to the net for the ball by pressing B, right, A. Another unique element added to the tennis part in this game is where if you really hit the ball, the ball might just hit the player, and the player will stand dazed and you will get a point. Now this happens occasionally, but not often; I really hate this part because, although it is funny, it makes playing the game unrealistic.
There are plenty of ways to play in here, which is surprising considering this is just a tennis game. The first, main, mode Id like to explain is the story mode, you pick either a boy or a girl and you get a random partner with them as well. When you start the game you just got sent to a tennis academy and this Amy girl gives you a tour of the place and explain how everything works. She then introduces you to your roommate and doubles partner, you then start off each day choosing to play singles or doubles, for both ways of playing, you start off playing in the Junior class courts, and you must qualify to rank in the game. As you win matches you get experience points and your character can gain levels for better stats, you can also visit a training center to get better racquets and shoes to improve your game. You move from 4th rank(3rd in doubles) to first rank, once you beat the Junior Class champs, you move onto the Senior class and go through the same procedure, then you move onto the elite Varsity class. You move up a couple of ranks then you get to tour to Marios own kingdom and go against the whole cast of Mario characters.
For other modes we got exhibition for singles and doubles play, but unfortunately you can only choose from a handful of Mario characters once you start the game. Once you beat the story mode, and use the transfer pak to transfer N64 data to the GB version, you can unlock up to 9 people from the Mushroom Kingdom to choose from. Other modes are mini games, where you select a certain Mario character and you can do random mini games with them like hitting certain targets and so on. I found these modes perfect to learn the shots in the game as well. You can also link up with another friend to play the game in vs. mode.
Well, the story mode is a blast to play, and gives something worthwhile to put hours in on your own in single player so you can unlock all those extra modes, plus you got mini games as well for extra fun. The vs. mode will let you go on for hours against your friend. And to top it all off this game is one of those rare GB titles compatible with the Transfer Pak. Where you can upload game data from the GB to the N64 version of the game and gain extra characters and modes for both versions.
+: Easy to learn, some of the best graphics ever on Game Boy, the story mode is unique and provides hours of play
-: Powering up can be a bit tedious at times, couple of useless elements added into game play like nailing players with balls
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 9.1
Replay Value: 9.3
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9
If you liked Mario Golf, you will most likely enjoy Mario Tennis. This provides the same kind of game play with the same, unique, RPG elements mixed in. This is the best Tennis game on the Game Boy, with not much competition out there, so this game is definitely worth the purchase!