Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)
Mario Tennis, known in Japan as Mario Tennis 64 (マリオテニス64 Mario Tenisu Rokujūyon), is a Nintendo 64 video game which is essentially an expanded version of Mario's Tennis for the Virtual Boy. It features Mario and his friends playing tennis. It was originally going to be called "Mario's Dream Tennis", but was changed for unknown reasons. This game marked the debut of Waluigi, and also Princess Daisy and Birdo's re-entries into the Mario series. The Game Boy Color counterpart is Transfer Pack compatible with Mario Tennis.
The game begins with the launch of the Mario Star Tournament. Mario and a prominent cast of characters walk out onto the field, where it switches to a walk-through of more playable characters, and a quick zoom in on two shadowed figures. Eventually, the tournament is started and characters are matched up. Mario defeats DK, Yoshi beats Daisy, Princess Peach beats Birdo, and Luigi beats Paratroopa. In the semi-finals, Mario beats Yoshi and Luigi beats Peach.
The finals start with Mario and Luigi beginning their match by looking for the tennis ball, when suddenly Wario and his new side-kick Waluigi bust in to challenge them. As Waluigi enjoys his new introduction, Luigi exclaims he's not afraid of this new character. Waluigi, now angered, challenges Luigi. Mario tries to calm the two down when Wario confronts him. The four are about to have-it-out, when a gloaming spot-light shines down upon them.
As Toad (who is the announcer) points and shouts, "What's-that!?", Bowser and the hovering Boo fall onto the court below, knocking Wario and Waluigi backwards. Everyone appears disgusted that Bowser would try to ruin a tennis match. To everyone's surprise, the pair announce they have come to play a friendly game of tennis. As everyone is baffled, Mario breaks the silence by exclaiming, "Let's all play!". As Peach and Daisy look to each other and agree, everyone, including Wario and Waluigi, follow suit. Out of nowhere, a Bob-omb makes its way onto the field. Without time to act, everyone is caught in the blast, and the game begins.
A serve begins each point in tennis. A single player serves each game, and players alternate serving throughout the course of the match. If the player wishes to serve, they must press either or , then or again plus a direction on the to execute the serve. The right timing can result in a "Nice" serve, which is a bit more powerful and quicker than a normal serve.
There are basically three choices when serving: serving normal, serving wide, or serving up the middle. Serves are their special shot counterparts. Therefore, if the player double-taps the A button when serving, they'll give up a Top Spin shot to open things. Double-tapping on the serve serves a Slice. Holding and produces the biggest serve of the game: the Smash serve.
A basic, run-of-the-mill shot in Mario Tennis is the Top Spin shot. This shot has a higher arch to it, curving into the ground after it crosses the net. The player must hit a Top Spin shot by pressing and aiming with the analog stick. A tail is added to a Top Spin shot by the player double tapping the button. This will make the shot a bit more powerful and add an orange fire trail (tail) behind it.
A Slice shot has a lower trajectory and less of a bounce off the surface of the court. The Slice shot is performed by the player pressing and aiming with the control stick. The player charges their slice shot by double tapping the button. When they do this, a light blue trail (tail) will appear after the ball.
The player can lob a shot over an opponent's head by tapping , then . The player can aim with the control stick to bury a lob in the back court. The Lob is especially effective against weaker, quicker players who come to the net.
The player taps , then to hit a soft shot that barely clears the tape and "drops" a few feet from the tape. If an opponent is deep on the back court when the player performs the maneuver, they will have to sprint forward to make a play on the ball, which often leads to net balls.
To do a Power Shot, the player must press and simultaneously. This will send a high-powered blast from the character's racket. The Power Shot is the toughest in the game to return. A Power Shot is especially effective when used at the net. Often, a ball will be returned weakly. When this happens, a star will appear where the ball will bounce. A Power Shot is indicated by a glowing pink energy trail.
The player must press and hold either or . The player's character will freeze in place and begin to spark, indicating that power-up has begun. Let go of the button to hit the shot. A charge-up shot is not only more powerful, but easier to control as well. Once the player begins a charge-up, they will not be able to move until they hit the ball unless they are a "Tricky" character. It is possible to cancel charging if they misaligned the shot. The player does this by tapping in the midst of their charge-up. Charged shots result in devastating strength and are hard to return if performed correctly.
Mis-hitting the ball usually occurs when the player's character doesn't have an optimal approach. Shots fly past the end line, miss wide and fade before reaching the net. Mis-hits usually occur when the player is moving toward the net. A common mis-hit is to dribble a ball off of the player's racket after a Slice shot. This happens when they are attempting to Smash a Slice shot on the return. If the player gets hit by the ball, the other team will get a point.
From the baseline, the player can boom huge ground strokes and work the entire court. Playing the baseline also allows the player to track down anything the other player throws their way. The baseline works well for slow players (DK, for example) and those with excellent returns (Wario and Bowser).
It is best used by quicker players who have a lot of reach. When at the net, the player can stay near the center, but must be ready to move laterally to track down shots that try to get by the player down the sidelines. The player must angle shots to the opposite side of the court their opponent is on.
Doubles is a much different mode than singles. In fact, in most cases, it is much easier. The court is split into front and back sections. When the player's serving, it is their responsibility to cover the back. When they are not serving, they get to play the net. When being served to, the player's position will alternate. If the player is receiving the serve, they will play back on the point. If not, they've got the net.
In addition to the straight tennis matches offered in Mario Tennis, several special play modes are also available which are playable both individually or with a Mario party.
When the player selects Exhibition, the first choice they'll have to make is Singles or Doubles. If Singles is chosen, the next thing determined is how many games to play. If Doubles is selected, player's teammate and his or her skill level need to be determined. Easy, Normal, Hard, and Intense difficulties are the possible difficulties. Easy is similar to a first round opponent in the Mushroom Cup. Intense is the level of play the player encounters in the finals of the Star Cup.
Once the players have selected the number of games they like to play, an opponent is determined, if playing a one-player contest. The difficulty of the opponent can be adjusted too.
After the players' foe has been determined, they must select a court to compete on. If they have unlocked any of the special courts, the courts are displayed here.
The first tournament in the game, the Mushroom Cup is purely beginner. The players opponents are slow and relatively unskilled. The Mushroom Cup takes place on the hard court.
Held on a clay court, the Flower Cup showcases more talent than the player faced in the Mushroom. Players have picked up the pace and are much more skilled than the first round of those the player faced. However, they are still not at 100%.
The Star Cup is the premier competition of Mario Tennis. The entire crew brings their best, most intense game to the court. The court surface is grass.
There are three more tournaments available in Mario Tennis, but they need to be unlocked. To access the Rainbow, Moonlight and Planet Cups, the player needs to win the Star Cup in singles with all 16 characters. Once done, the player must "star" his or her character by pressing and holding the R shoulder button while selecting a player. This will allow the player to participate in the Rainbow Cup. The player has to beat the Rainbow Cup to get to the Moonlight Cup, and win the Moonlight Cup to get to the Planet Cup.
One might expect the skill level of the Rainbow Cup to be higher, but it isn’t. The only significant difference between this and the Mushroom Cup is strength of serve. Players here deal a bit more power with their shots.
The Moonlight Cup is a lot like the Flower Cup, except in number of games played. Held on a clay surface, the Moonlight Cup’s second round is a 3 Set Match, and its final round is a 5 Set contest.
The competition level is the same as that of the Star Cup, except here there’s more of it. Every match leading to the final is a three set endeavor. The final match is a grueling five sets. The Planet Cup takes place on a grass court, like the Star Cup.
The Ring Shot Challenges invites the player to compete in several contests to see how many rings they can collect in various matches of skill. In all except the Game mode, the challenge works like a tie break. The player serves first, then their opponent serves twice, then the player serve twice, and so on. Three rings appear on the court at a time. Each time the player collects one, another one will reappear on the court. As the player progress through the Ring Shot challenges, they'll receive a number of the same opponents appearing. Probable opponents have been noted for each stage of the four challenges. In multiplayer modes, players and/or teams compete who can get 50, 100, or 200 rings (depending on which of the three is selected). In Doubles Match, the music is different than usual, and players can score rings either in Teams (two players on the same team) or in Battle Royale (individual players per team).
Bowser Stage takes place on a floating court suspended by chains above a lake of lava. This game is a nod to Mario Kart, where the player can collect and use power-ups against the player's opponent. The court pitches and shifts throughout the match, and the player will have to contend with the weird gravity as a result. Running up it will take the player more time, and the down slope will pull them down toward the lava. The ball also reacts differently to the surface angle. The other major difference between this and normal tennis are the power-ups that are collected and used. They hover near the center of the net in glowing cubes (as seen in Kart) and become the players when they send a ball through one. The power-up then appears in the corner of the screen and can be used by pressing the Right shoulder button.
The first thing to determine when selecting Piranha Challenge is what kind of court to play on. There are four choices: Hard, Clay, Grass or Composition. The Piranha Challenge pits the player against four opponents: one Mario team player and three Piranha plants. The three plants spit balls randomly, and the object is to return them past the net camper and out of play. There are fifty balls total. There is no pattern to how the balls come from the piranha plants. The Mario team player stays mostly in the center of the net. If the ball somehow does make its way to the center player, the center player returns it, and it may not count towards the score..
Special Games is a special mode including Short Game, Tiebreaker, Ring Tournament, and Demo Mode.
Short Game is a multiplayer mode where the character or team must score up to 5 points to win the match. Tiebreaker is equivalent to Short Game, except it goes up to 7 points. Short Game and Tiebreaker are only for two players for a Singles Match and four players for a Doubles Match, and never use the computers at all.
Ring Tournament was a challenge mode and service for players per copy of the game to have their high scores depending upon how many rings they each collected submitted to the leaderboard with the players' entered names. Before playing, the player was required to enter a code for each of the special cups, including character-based ones. The codes came from the former official website for that game which ran from 2000–2004, and would change from time to time. The service ended in 2004 after the game's sequel Mario Power Tennis replaced it for that URL. This Special Game has been deleted in the Virtual Console re-release of the game.
In this mode, all of the characters in the Singles Match and/or Doubles Match are computer-controlled, allowing the players to watch the matches as if they were watching a sports event. However, the skill levels for each character cannot be chosen, therefore it is decided randomly which character or team will win the match.
Every court plays a bit differently. Each court can be selected for Exhibition matches once unlocked.