by Jason Clement
reviewed on 3DS
A Return to the Basics, cont.
Camelot also included the ability to use the touch screen to play, with the different techniques all listed on the bottom screen with their respective colors adhering to the colors of the chance spots. While tennis veterans likely won't want to use this type of control, beginners and casual gamers may appreciate its inclusion. Another interesting inclusion is the gyro-mode, which moves the action from a top-down view to right behind the character's shoulders. This particular control scheme uses the 3DS's gyroscope in order to aim the ball in the direction you want; unfortunately, it also automates your character so that they always head to where the ball is, putting the emphasis on how you hit the ball but also making the game all too simple in the process. Thankfully, you have the option of turning it off and going to the more traditional top-down view and controlling the character yourself.
Serving Up Some Special Games
One of the best new features of the game however, are the special games Camelot included, being the traditional Ring Shot game (usually found in the console Mario Tennis games); Super Mario Tennis, which features a moving wall that plays out as a level of the original Super Mario Bro. game and all the while has you bouncing the ball and aiming to hit goombas, koopas, blocks, and coins, which help increase the amount of time left so that you can finish the stage; and Galaxy Rally, which is another interesting one as well, where the object is to keep a rally going back and forth while avoiding holes in the court. The final special game is Ink Showdown, in which piranha plants will spit balls at you and you must hit them back without the opponent being able to hit the ball (and while avoiding ink balls as well).
There's also a store through which you'll buy items unlocked from playing the main tournament mode and the special games; however, the items can only be used with your Mii. Unfortunately, I found the actual stats of each item (whether it be a racket, shoes, or something else) to have very little impact on gameplay, making the store more of a venue used to change up the appearance of your Mii than helping to build up their abilities. The game also features local and online multiplayer with leaderboards and StreetPass capabilities, so you'll never run out of ways to play matches with others. Last but not least, the music is well-done as usual for a Mario Tennis game, featuring up-beat and catchy music (and even a few throwback songs during the Super Mario Tennis and Galaxy Rally games as well) while you play through matches.
Game, Set, and Match
Mario Tennis Open is definitely a solid game, but it could have been so much more at the same time. The loss of the RPG mode and the fact that none of the characters have their own unique techniques or specials they could use really make this feel like a bare-boned release compared to its predecessors. However, the special games do a good job of breaking the monotony of the exhibition and tournament modes and show off the more creative side of developer Camelot; it's just a shame that that creative juice used to create those games couldn't be used to help make the main modes a bit more interesting with an in-depth campaign of sorts and more done to shake up general gameplay. That said, the game looks, plays, sounds, and controls well so if you're looking for a good tennis experience on the 3DS, you'd be hard pressed to find a better tennis game; just don't expect to be blown away by this iteration.
Visuals and 3D are fantastic, special games introduce fun new gameplay types, tennis is solid as usual
Very few new additions to the game, loss of several modes present in earlier games make this version feelbare-boned