Of the many games showcased at PAX East 2012, I had no intentions of falling for Mario Tennis Open. Typically I'm not a fan of tennis, sports games, or confusing Mario universe cameos. But having seen the crisp, vibrant graphics and the new multiplayer mode, consider me "won over". Mario Tennis Open doesn't just bring a beloved series to the third dimension, it serves up a fresh and enchanting experience for fans new and old.
Since I never actually picked up the original Mario Tennis, I knew I was going to need some help from my handy booth attendant in learning how to play. I was immediately directed to the Special Games, showcased in the trailer above. Designed to warm you up to the various shots you will use in matches, they impressively execute blend of tutorial and minigame, teaching the player to use trick shots and aim for specific court quadrants. Each is inspired by past Mario titles, and one will even let you play Super Mario Bros. Rallyball; users can actually play through the classic original game by aiming their shots for power ups, pipes, and coins.
Mario Tennis Open (3DS)
The gyroscope really shines in this title, the transition of view point as you move the 3DS is both smooth and natural. You can use the system's motion control to affect the arch of your shots. I was also pleased with how they utilized the 3DS' touch screen. While in a match, the court will often light up with one of five colors, which coordinate to five divided sections on your second screen. By reaching the highlighted Chance Area on the court and tapping the corresponding color, your character will lob a powerful Chance Shot.
StreetPass will allow players to sync up with others nearby and play together even if only one player has a cartridge. Multiplayer matches are made through local or online connection. Both singles and doubles mode are available, allowing up to four players. Open Match mode can sync you to a player of your skill level. Your Coins can be spent on outfits and unlockables, which can then be shown off to other players. Leaderboards and stat keeping and sharing will also be available.
Final score: Mario Tennis Open serves up a double dose of awesome. Keep an eye on this one.