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Mario Power Tennis (GameCube) artwork

Mario Power Tennis (GameCube) review

"To fully judge the merits of Mario Power Tennis you must first take away the glitz, glamour, and venerable fame, push aside the presumptuous stereotypes hastily slapped upon Marioís name, and simply view the entertainment experienced at the end of your gaming session; itís fun. "

To fully judge the merits of Mario Power Tennis you must first take away the glitz, glamour, and venerable fame, push aside the presumptuous stereotypes hastily slapped upon Marioís name, and simply view the entertainment experienced at the end of your gaming session; itís fun.

Sure, the game isnít without its blemishes, but the core concept works well. From the get go youíll be presented the option of playing an exhibition match, tournament, or special game. A Wide array of popular Nintendo icons are at your disposal and each of them has certain pros and cons in their game. For example, a character like Yoshi struts his stuff on the court with elegant speed, while someone like Wario excells due to his sheer power. The character that best suits you is dependant on your personal style, but thereís a certain degree of equality dispersed throughout the motley crew.

Powerups are the name of the game in this rendition and using them methodically determines the majority of games. Thankfully, the system is implemented virtually flawlessly, keeping masters and novices happy at the same time. Each character has two different powerups. In order to use these powerups your character must first fully charge their racket. Based on how much your character is moving around on the court, their racket will eventually sport a bright glow.

If youíre far way from the ball and itís seemingly out of reach, a powerup can help with that issue, allowing your character to reach literally any ball, anywhere on the court. The other powerup is a smash shot, creating a tidal wave of profound power. The majority of points are scored in this manner. But, as the astute will observe, you cannot simply use these as soon you are able to do so. A better idea would be to force your opponent to use their desperation move on an erratic ball, then unleash a malicious power attack on their still-recovering state. Itís little subtleties like these that present room for improvement in game, and are a fresh approach to the incessancy of tennis.

Aside from the unrealistic powerups, the core mechanics for fundamental tennis are still present. Pressing B causes a slice shot while A elicits a topspin shot. For the more tactical players, pressing A then B just as the ball is approaching shoots a little floater that just barely clears the net. Pushing B then A is a drop shot, which shoots high into the air and plunks down near the back of the court. Furthering the possible nuances, double tapping either A or B as you shoot gives your shot an added boost. Controlling the onscreen characters is a breeze and the interface as a whole is intuitive and responsive. Howevever, this was meant to be a pick upa nd play title, meaning the challenge level just isn't there. Rarely, if ever, did I falter in tournament matches, and once I had the controls down to an art I blew away the competition as easily as I turned on the Gamecube. There were instances where Iíd struggle but not nearly enough. I like a game to convey a sense of accomplishment when I succeed.

Luckily, the whimsical special games that are available on the side are definitely a nice little treat. Certain ones, like Artist on the Court, which gives you a picture to paint by shooting the right colored paintballs at the right spot on the wall, are incredibly fun. Exhibition matches offer some variety by including the item battle mode. Numerous boxes will appear on the court, and if you hit the ball through one, a multitude of enhancements can occur. The Gimmick Court spices things up a little by placing certain obstacles on the court, while Ring Shot places rings on the court in which you must shoot ball through.

Now, the graphics, while cartoony, are a respectable show in their own right. It certainly doesnít seem that graphics were a top priority on the list of must doís but they serve the purpose. The models are generally sharp and distinct, and the courts have a fair amount of detail in them. Specifically, the little scenes where the powerups are being initiated are done quite well and showcase the finer side of things. You basically just get the feeling that youíre controlling a brilliant, colorful cartoon. The vivid colors help to immerse you in the scene at hand and create a more interesting atmosphere in the game of tennis. As a whole, I think the graphics suit the humorous take on tennis quite nicely.

A minimal amount of voiceovers are integrated into the mix, but do add a touch of flair. Each character has little spoofs of voice or short-lived sayings that distinguish each one from the next. Happy, up-tempo music accompanies the menus and certain times during gameplay. However, I did find that the tone of the audio seems to be directed towards a younger audience. It just seems childish in the overall vibe you get from it.

The game seems to get rather repetitive after a while, and the perpetual motion of hit, defend, hit takes quite a toll on your nerves in time. The new point of view on tennis, though, is definitely an appealing change of pace. The inclusion of special games adds some replay value since you can set, then break, record over again. All in all, I found this game a solid entry in the Mario sports series and realized that stylistic graphics arenít required for a high quality sports title. While itís not a masterpiece, the fundamentals are all there for an enjoyable time with all-familiar Mario characters.

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Community review by Linkamoto (June 08, 2005)

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