North American box art
|Developer(s)||Camelot Software Planning|
|Director(s)||Haruki Kodera (N64)|
Shugo Takahashi (GBC)
Shugo Takahashi (GBC)
|Platform(s)||Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color|
Mario Tennis[a] is a sports video game developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 video game console. The game was released in North America and Japan in the summer of 2000, and released in Europe later in November. It is the first tennis-based game starring Mario since Mario's Tennis, and the second game developed by Camelot on a Nintendo system. The game is known for being the introduction of Luigi's evil doppelgänger, Waluigi, and the re-introduction of Princess Daisy and Birdo. A Game Boy Color version, also developed by Camelot and Nintendo, was published under the same title in Western regions and as Mario Tennis GB in Japan.
Mario Tennis was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2010 and on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015. The game's success led to four sequels: Mario Power Tennis released for the GameCube in 2004, Mario Tennis Open released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash released for the Wii U in 2015 and Mario Tennis Aces which was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2018.
Characters and Transfer Pak features
Marking the sixth Mario game for the Nintendo 64, Mario Tennis brings eleven new characters to the Mario Tennis franchise, including Waluigi (who made his first appearance in the Mario series overall in this game), Princess Daisy, Wario, Shy Guy, Donkey Kong and Birdo.
Through the use of a Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak, players are able to import their characters from the Game Boy Color (GBC) version of Mario Tennis to the N64 game, as well as the characters' stats. After connecting Mario Tennis for GBC with Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64, various characters become available; Yoshi, Wario, Waluigi and Bowser can be sent to the GBC version, and the GBC version characters Alex, Harry, Nina and Kate can be transferred to the Nintendo 64 version. Using the latter four characters, experience points may be earned to transfer back to the GBC version. As the characters go up in levels, one may send his or her improved characters to the N64 version to level up again.
A variety of tennis courts become available to unlock in the Nintendo 64 version after linking with the Game Boy Color version.
On the Virtual Console versions, the Ring Tournament mode in Special Games in the N64 version cannot be highlighted and the ability to unlock extra characters and courts through the Transfer Pak in the GBC and N64 versions has been removed, and Linked Play, erase N64 data, N64 Tennis data and N64 Tournaments in the GBC version cannot be selected.
The game uses a control system that differs from most other video tennis games on the market. Shots are performed by pressing one, or both, of the two main buttons (A or B), which make the ball spin in different ways. Pressing a button twice strikes the tennis shot with more power and spin. Additionally, pressing the two buttons in a different order can result in a different type of shot altogether, such as a lob or drop shot. Both buttons can be pressed at the same time to hit a very powerful smash shot. The longer a button is pressed before contact is made with the ball, the stronger the shot will be. The control system allows players of all levels to become familiar with the mechanics of the game within a very short time, whilst also encouraging advanced players to take advantage of the variety of shots offered to come up with different strategies for winning points. A total of seven types of shot are possible using only the two main buttons of the controller.
These gameplay mechanics were later brought to the newer games of the Mario Tennis series.
Mario Tennis received critical acclaim, with critics citing the accessibility and depth of the controls as being very impressive. The game physics and amount of content have also been praised. The Nintendo 64 version received "universal acclaim" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.
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A Game Boy Color version was released on November 1, 2000 in Japan; January 16, 2001 in North America; and February 2, 2001 in Europe. It features a wide variety of human and Mario characters for the player to use. The game also features mini-games such as a tennis version of a shooting gallery where, as Donkey Kong, the player must hit the banana targets on the wall to earn points in a set amount of time.
A role-playing game mode appears in the Game Boy Color version, which is not in the Nintendo 64 version. In this mode, players begin as a rookie tennis player at the Royal Tennis Academy, who must build up their skill by leveling-up through training and practice matches before entering various tournaments. The aim of this mode is to be crowned champion at the academy, although the second part of the game involves the player competing in a tournament to ultimately face Mario, the best tennis player. The role-playing is playable in singles and doubles (separately), effectively doubling the game's longevity. There are training facilities that can help the player progress.
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- Official Nintendo Japan Mario Tennis 64 site
- Official Nintendo Japan Mario Tennis Game Boy Color site
- Mario Tennis profile in Wii U Virtual Console
- Mario Tennis on IMDb
- Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64) at MobyGames
- Mario Tennis (Game Boy Color) at MobyGames
- Mario Tennis at Nintendo.com (archives of the original at the Internet Archive)
- Mario Tennis on the Super Mario Wiki