With the recent release of Mario Sports SuperStars on Nintendo 3DS, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look back at all of Mario’s previous outings in the sports genre and provide some thoughts and opinions.

 

 

With this, I’d like to put in a quick two disclaimers. First, I won’t be discussing games in the Mario Kart or Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series at all. It’s fair to assume that kart racing is a sport, and that various olympic sports are of equal importance, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll be excluding those games. Additionally, I’ve played most of these games, so for the second disclaimer, I’d just like to note that I’ll be providing my opinions based on personal experiences on these games, in addition to factual information about their releases.

So, without further ado, let’s just jump into it then! For no particular reason, we’ll begin with the Mario Tennis series.

 

 

Mario’s Tennis

Console(s) Released on: Virtual Boy

Initial Release Date(s): July 1995 (JP), Aug. 1995 (US)

Developer(s): Nintendo, TOSE

 

The first of the Mario Tennis series and a pack in title for the Virtual Boy in the US, Mario’s Tennis doesn’t do much but set the stage for titles to follow. The gameplay is very simple, and plays on the Virtual Boy’s attempt at depth perception as you look across the court. There’s not much to note about this game, other than it features an identical roster to the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario Kart, which is neat. However, featuring incredibly basic gameplay and no multiplayer mode, there’s really nothing to write home about here.

 

 

Mario Tennis

Console(s) Released on: Nintendo 64, Wii (Virtual Console), Wii U (Virtual Console)

Initial Release Date(s): July 2000 (JP), Aug. 2000 (US), Nov. 2000 (EU & AU)

Developer(s): Camelot

 

The first Mario Sports game entirely developed by a second party, Mario Tennis is an excellent game that set the standard for Mario Tennis games to follow. The game features multiplayer with up to four players, as well as a slew of various game modes. While the game features traditional tennis tournaments, it also features modes like Ring Shot, Bowser Stage and Piranha Challenge, which would shake up the formula a bit. The game also saw the debut of fan-favorite character, Waluigi, as well as defining Daisy and Birdo as Mario series mainstays.

 

Personally I highly recommend playing this one! All of the ports are solid too, so get it wherever you can!

 

 

Mario Tennis

Console(s) Released on: Gameboy Color, Nintendo 3DS (Virtual Console)

Initial Release Date(s): Nov. 2000 (JP), Jan. 2001 (US), Feb. 2001 (EU & AU)

Developer(s): Camelot

 

A portable counterpart to the Nintendo 64 release, Mario Tennis made up for what it lacked in technical prowess with a robust story mode. Featuring original characters Alex, Nina, Harry and Kate, players could hone their skills in an RPG-esk format in hopes of becoming the tennis champion! The game also featured a good amount of small minigames, similar to their more complex counterparts in the Nintendo 64 release. The 3DS Virtual Console re-release hinders this game a bit though, in that it removes the ability for multiplayer, as well as the ability to unlock about half of the characters, as the N64 transfer pack was required to do so.

 

If you’re looking for a quick, but robust single player experience, then either port of this game should do. But if you’re a completionist, you’ll get the most enjoyment if you own original copies of both this game and it’s Nintendo 64 counterpart, as well as an N64 Transfer Pack.

 

Mario Power Tennis

Console(s) Released on: Nintendo GameCube, Wii (New Play Control!)

Initial Release Date(s): Oct. 2004 (JP), Nov. 2004 (US), Feb. 2005 (EU & AU)

Developer(s): Camelot, Nintendo

 

The added “Power” in the title isn’t simply name only. Mario Power Tennis really upped the ante over previous entries in the series. Featuring a fully animated opening and a bit more story than the previous console releases, Mario Power Tennis is one of the games you can look at that helped define the personalities of various Mario characters. Additionally, the gameplay is incredibly solid, and now features Offensive and Defensive “Power Shots.” Power Shots put the characters in wacky and exciting situations that either power up their shots on the offensive, or make incredible saves on the defensive. Multiplayer, Tournaments and Special Games are all here as well, creating a full fledged, exciting Mario Tennis experience.

 

I definitely recommend giving this one a go as well. I have no experience with the Wii version, but the GameCube version offers solid controls that lead to an exciting competitive experience.

 

Mario Tennis Power Tour

Console(s) Released on: Gameboy Advance, Wii U (Virtual Console)

Initial Release Date(s): Sept. 2005 (JP), Nov. 2005 (EU), Dec. 2005 (US & AU),

Developer(s): Camelot, Nintendo

 

Featuring a smaller cast of Mario characters, but a larger cast of overall characters, Mario Tennis Power Tour builds on the GameBoy Color version of Mario Tennis in a similar way to which Mario Power Tennis did for Mario Tennis on Nintendo 64. Again featuring a similar story mode and a wide array of original characters, this game offers a longer and more complex story mode then it’s portable predecessor.

 

I have no personal experience with this game, but based on research, I can assume that if you enjoyed Mario Tennis (GBC), then you’ll enjoy this game as well.

 

 

Mario Tennis Open

Console(s) Released on: Nintendo 3DS

Initial Release Date(s): May 2012 (US/CA/JP/AU/EU), April 2013 (HK, ROC, SK)

Developer(s): Camelot, Nintendo

 

As handhelds became more powerful, the handheld and console worlds of Mario Tennis melded for the release of Mario Tennis Open on Nintendo 3DS. Like the previous console releases, the game features multiplayer, tournaments and special games, but unlike the previous handheld titles, this game features no extended singleplayer experience. As such, this game is a bit of a double-edged sword. You finally get console-quality Mario Tennis on the go, but you sacrifice the single player RPG elements that you may be used to.

 

I can personally recommend this one, as I’m a fan of the previous console entries and not so much the handheld games, but if you’re looking for game like Mario Tennis (GBC) or Mario Tennis Power Tour, you’re best off looking elsewhere.

 

 

Mario Tennis Ultra Smash

Console(s) Released on: Wii U

Initial Release Date(s): Nov. 2015 (US/EU/AU), Jan. 2016 (JP)

Developer(s): Camelot, Nintendo

 

Like the console it was released on, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash featured much promise upon release, but ultimately failed to deliver. For positives, the game features beautiful visuals and solid gameplay. While “Power Shots” are gone, “Ultra Smashes” and “Mega Mushrooms” make their way onto the tennis court. Players can send balls flying around the court with Ultra Smashes, and can turn giant with the Mega Mushrooms. If that’s not your fancy however, gameplay is also customizable, and allows players to play without Ultra Smashes and Mega Mushrooms, should they choose. However, while gameplay is lots of fun and the visuals are stunning, the game lacks any sort of depth. Special Games and Tournament play are nowhere to be found. The only single player in the game is playing against computer players or “Knockout Mode,” where players face a never ending line of computer players in 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 matches, should the player choose to use a compatible amiibo figure.

 

Multiplayer in this game is generally a joy, so if you have some friends willing to play with you, this is a game worth playing. However, single player is far too barren to justify playing by oneself, and as such, the game is not worth playing on your own.

 

 

With some ups and downs along the way, we’ve come to the end of our look at the Mario Tennis series. Join us next time, as we’ll take a look at the Mario Baseball and Mario Strikers series!