Retro Review: Mario Power Tennis (GameCube)
Content Warning: This game is rated E and is a Mario game about playing tennis. It is very family friendly.
Normally my retro reviews are of the N64 variety. However, I also own a Gamecube and some significant titles for the console. Every now and again I will review a classic or maybe a hidden gem that was on Nintendo’s purple box. Beware there may be some spoilers!
Mario Tennis was a surprise hit on the N64 which was preceded by the other hit Mario Golf. Both games were made by Camelot and showed that Mario could do more than platformers. This caused a wave of Mario sports games on the Gamecube with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, Super Mario Strikers, Mario Superstar Baseball, Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix, and finally Mario Power Tennis.
The opening video is pure gold as it shows Mario and Luigi defeating Wario and Waluigi in a game of tennis. Wario and Waluigi decide to take a walk when suddenly they run across the bracket for the Peachdome Tournament. Hijinks ensue as they deface the bracket and the cops come running. On a side note I did notice some of the residents of Isle Delfino from Super Mario Sunshine in the background. Wario and Waluigi come across Bowsers training room while trying to escape the po-po. Bowser then proceeds to torture/train them into top tennis shape. It is very entertaining and much more than I would ever expect from a sports game. Watch it below!
First off I must say that the gameplay in Mario Tennis, on the N64, was good. However, here on the Gamecube it is superb! Everything in Mario Power Tennis is bigger and better. The controls here work perfectly and everything feels just as it should. I never felt as if the controls hampered me from doing well. Tennis is an easy pick up and play but the further you get into the tournaments, the more you realize how much skill is involved as well. Power shots are the new addition to the series and they are game changers. Every character now has a unique power shot to add to their arsenal. For example – Mario’s power shot is a fast, blazing fireball while Diddy Kong’s power shot is a nasty curve ball. It sounds like baseball but trust me… it is not. These power shots are not guaranteed to score but they do break up the back and forth of a good tennis match with surprising force. However, I sometimes felt as if they happened to often as I watched multiple time as every player activated their power shot in succession. There are new courts and while some feel gimmicky, they add a much needed change to the basic tennis court that many are used to playing on.
The graphical style of Mario Power Tennis looks good on the Gamecube and, just like Super Mario Sunshine, it holds up well in 2014. If Nintendo were to update the game for Wii U by only adding full HD then it would still look good. Oh and it runs at 60 frames per second. Mario and company look exactly as you expect and don’t disappoint with their voiced either. I found Mario’s voice a bit grating in Mario Tennis 64 but here he sounds just as he should. The biggest downfall is the music. The music is simply lacking despite the good graphics and impressive presentation. Progressive mode is supported here!
Mario Power Tennis is a gem in the line of Mario sports games. It has infinite replay value and still holds up well today. Nintendo sure knows how to keep their cast of characters in quality games and it seems as if you cannot go wrong with any game with Mario in the title on a Nintendo platform.
Graphics hold up well
Difficulty ramps up at an appropriate speed
Controls are perfect for a tennis game
Music is lacking
Power shots can be used too often