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Mario's Tennis

Virtual Boy is not a piece of hardware that lends itself well to lengthy play sessions. Therefore, a great Virtual Boy title is simple, polished, entertaining, and able to be thoroughly experienced within a twenty minute gaming session. With such criteria in mind, Mario’s Tennis is a fine piece of software, though it would be considered a disappointment if it were intended for a normal console.


Mario’s Tennis features pleasant visuals. Nothing is terribly impressive, but everything fits together nicely. Virtual Boy’s gimmicky features give the court and backgrounds an illusion of depth, though veteran gamers will likely find more amusement with the array of Mushroom Kingdom locales. Each character is animated well, complete with the appropriate mannerisms (Toad skips around the court, Donkey Kong flexes after a mean smash, etc.). The ball itself is of mixed visual quality: It moves well, but it is a tad oversized and lacks texture. There are a few visual bonuses, such as the score-keeping Lakitu Brothers and objects moving across the distant skyline.


The sound effects are made up of the primitive pings and pongs that I complained about so often back in the early days of Game Boy Dojo. However, the music is a treat. The few background tunes that were composed for this game are some of the catchiest in Nintendo history. Prepare to have some new tracks added to your mental jukebox, right up there with the Super Mario 64 menu music and John Tesh’s riveting theme for the NBA on NBC.


Pick a challenge level, then choose between single play or doubles before getting your grove on in an exhibition or an all-out tournament. As you might have gathered by now, the participating characters are pulled right from the Mario universe, each with different strengths and weaknesses.

The play on the court is simple and balanced, just as one would expect from a Mario sports title. Shot direction and character movement are both handled with the left directional pad, while B and A are used for the lob and standard shot. Both shot buttons can be pressed simultaneously for a nasty smash when the time is right. The friendly control makes Mario’s Tennis instantly playable for anyone, but the higher challenge levels (one of which is hidden) will always be waiting to turn up the heat.

Mixing and matching characters, play modes, and challenge levels is the only way to keep Mario’s Tennis fresh. There are no characters to unlock, nor are there exotic courts that involve obstacles and power-ups. In the unlikely event that you are looking to pump hours upon hours of play into a Virtual Boy game (read: you wish to lose your sense of sight), consider the lack of depth to be a negative point. Anyone else should be able to fully appreciate this game.




Most Virtual Boy owners are also Mario’s Tennis owners. If you are one of the few folks who somehow let this game slip by, you would be smart to pick it up and inject a little more quality into your library of semi-3D, retina-searing, red-n-black weirdness. Enjoy.

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