Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Play Control: Mario Power Tennis Review

Nintendo has begun to introduce a new line of games for the Nintendo Wii, entitled "New Play Control". These games were previously released on the GameCube, but have been updated for the Wii to take advantage of its unique control capabilities, including the IR pointer and accelerometers.

Thus far, Nintendo has released Mario Power Tennis and the original Pikmin, with announced future titles of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and Pikmin 2. Today, we’re going to be looking at Mario Power Tennis and I’ll give you low-down and let you know if these new controls make it worth the re-release.

Note: This isn’t a full review of the game, as it is a few years old, so I will be focusing on the changes, mostly with controls, instead of all of the game features.

The controls in this title are a bit interesting, but relatively simple to get a hand of. Instead of pressing a different combination of buttons for a certain shot, like chip, drop, lob, etc, you have a different swing. You can hit a neutral ball by swinging horizontally, or you can slam it by swinging downwards. You can also swing diagonally to put topspin on the ball, or go downwards for a drop shot. These motions take a little bit of getting used to, and you’ll miss the precision of just pressing a button or two for the exact shot you want, but the motion controls add a bit of depth to the game. However, don’t expect to pick them up instantly. You’ll have to play through a couple of sets before you feel comfortable with the controls, but once you are, you can pull off the shot you want 85-90% of the time. Lob shots are particularly different to get, as you have to move the Wii Remote straight up and it won’t always register, so this can get frustrating, but overall, the controls work well.

Another issue I sort of had with the game was placement. It doesn’t seem like moving the control stick effected the direction of the ball, like it would in other games, so I think it’s more based on the timing of your hit, as well as if you swung the Wii Remote backhand or forehand. However, it’s not as precise as Wii Sports Tennis was, where it really mattered how your character was positioned and how you swung the Remote. Overall, the controls were satisfactory and fun to play with once you got a handle on them. It’s unfortunate though, that you can’t plug in a GameCube controller and play; the constant swinging is a bit tiresome and it just would have been nice to have the ability to play a more traditional way.

Mario Power Tennis still has all the fun it did back on the GameCube, with around 20 playable characters from the Mushroom Kingdom, over 10 courses to play on, 6 regular tournaments plus 3 gimmick ones, over 8 mini-games, and the ability to unlock all sorts of bonuses, including star players. There is a ton of fun to be had with this title, so if you haven’t played the original, I would suggest picking this one up. To me, there is just something ridiculously enjoyable with Mario sport titles; not sure what it is. However, if you do already own the GameCube version, then I’m not sure I could suggest getting it for the Wii. The only addition is the control setup, so you’ll be playing through the same thing, but tennis is tennis. You may want to just hold out for EA’s Grand Slam Tennis, which will utilize the upcoming Wii MotionPlus device for a true tennis experience.

Overall Score: 6/10

Posted in cooperation with GamersPlatform

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