Mario Tennis: Power Tour brings the Mario Tennis franchise to the Gameboy Advance. The overall characteristics of the game are similar to the previous portable entry. That is, unlike the home console entries, this game mainly features an RPG story in which you are a rookie player trying to become the best player in the Academy and then win the Island Open Tournaments (and maybe more. 😉 ).
The main gameplay is very similar to the GameCube counter-part of the game while in tennis matches. Control Pad moves you around, A and B are used for hitting the ball, each one does a different kind of hit. They can also be combined to do even more different type of swings. The R button activates your Power Shots while the L button can cancel a swing if you were charging it already. On the overworld part, it’s pretty simple too. You move around places with the Control Pad and use A for interacting with others. You can hold B to run and get to places faster.
During the RPG part, everything controls tight and fine. The pace at which you can run is decent and you get a decent amount of experience for you and your partner when winning, so overall no complaints there. The main gameplay is at the tennis matches, though. Hitting the ball is pretty easy and the buttons respond fine, and if you ever need help in breaking through the defenses of your opponent or reaching a ball, the special shots called Power Shots will help you. The character movement feels a bit sluggish specially compared to the GameCube game. It feels like they tried to emulate an analog stick with the Control Pad but the result wasn’t good. Thankfully, though, it’s not that bad and the game is still perfectly playable and feels great. It will barely affect your way of playing.
Besides these main types of gameplay, the game also features several “training” modes, which are minigames that let you increase the skills of your character or obtain several power shots for him/her. There’s a different variety of them, some using the tennis gameplay while others have completely unique gameplay. Some of them will challenge your reaction times while others will test your button skills. They are all well made, though, and a fun distraction to have from tennis matches.
Graphically, the game is pretty decent for a Gameboy Advance game. On the RPG section, everything looks good. The sprites are well made and feature several animations. It’s really colorful too, which is nice to the eyes. During tennis matches, the game still looks overall nice, but the sprites aren’t as animated as in the former. In these, the characters sprites are actually made from 3D renders (similar to DKC on SNES) , which looks a bit bad at times due to having to compress the graphics for GBA. All the courts do look fine for the most part, but they feel a bit too static, probably because they are just a simple background layer. What looks bad, though, is the character portraits. Again, they simply converted the 3D character art to make these, which ended up not looking good since the images seem too compressed to work on the GBA. Thankfully, this doesn’t affect the gameplay.
The music of the game is good. There’s really nothing special about it, but it’s not bad either. There are only a few tracks that you’ll recognize from the GameCube game, which is a sad thing since that one had a nice selection of music. All the music does fit with what’s happening in the game, though, and it some of them are catchy and will help you get in the mood of what’s going in the tennis match, or the importance of it. A cool thing about the sound part is that all the relevant sound effects from the GameCube version have been added to this game as well, and they don’t sound badly compressed either. The announcements for scores, games, sets, and every character have voice effects which are clear and easy to hear and understand.
Besides the main story mode, the game also includes the usual exhibition mode and a multiplayer mode. Sadly, the overall game does feature a poor character roster, as it’s mostly filled with the NPC players you find in the story mode. There’s barely any Mario character in the game. The only interesting thing is being able to use your story mode character. And then there’s the court options also being poor. You only have your basic courts and the Peach Dome. There’s no gimmick courts either. Besides that, though, exhibition mode works the way it should. You can configure all the rules of the game you want to play, including if you want Power Shots enabled or not. Multiplayer is a blast with the capability of being able to play up to 4 players at once in a doubles match. And as an extra plus, the game is even compatible with the Wireless Adapter, so you don’t have to connect through cable if you have one of those from Pokémon Fire Red / Leaf Green.
(About the Virtual Console version)
Sadly, the Virtual Console version on Wii U doesn’t include the multiplayer. So the replay value of it isn’t as good. Thankfully, the rest of game still has a lot of content to enjoy.
Overall, Mario Tennis: Power Tour is a great game that successfully extends the GameCube experience to a portable console and is actually a successful sequel, both in the franchise and in the simple game’s story, to the old Mario Tennis for Gameboy Color. It has a nice amount of content to unlock that will keep you busy for several days and fun gameplay to complement on it. And if you are able to get with friends together for multiplayer matches, it’s even better. And it’s specially highly recommended to people who enjoy Mario sport games, even more if you are a fan of Mario Tennis.
Link-NM is the administrator of N Masters, Makendo Central, and aspiring indie game developer at NovaFan Games. His favorite game franchises include Mega Man X, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario Kart.