Virtual View

Mario’s Tennis Review

When I got my Virtual Boy for Xmas, I could finally get down to creating some reviews relating to the console, the first of which will be a review of the VB’s pack-in title, Mario’s Tennis. When the red machine came in the mail, one of the games it came with was Mario’s Tennis which would become the first entry in the Mario Tennis series which still continues today with Mario Tennis Open on the 3DS, which came out back in May of 2012.


Well it’s a sports game, so there isn’t much of a story if any. However, the game manual does have a short introduction about the game.

“There has never been a tennis game like Mario’s Tennis. Mario, Yoshi and a whole cast of your favorite characters move freely around a completely three dimensional tennis court  If you move to the net, and your opponent lobs, the ball seems to actually fly over your head. There has never been a game that was able to realistically create the feeling of depth on the court  You’ll find yourself trying to turn around and check the line when your opponent slams a passing shot down the line. It’s time to prove that you can serve, volley and rally with the best of them!”


If you’ve played a video game version of Tennis before than you should be able to get into this game easily, and even if you haven’t, the game is still easy to pick up and play. The controls are easy to use: You move with the left D-Pad, press A to perform groundstrokes, and if the ball is overhead, pressing A will automatically perform an overhead smash. Pressing B will lob the ball, and if you’re near the net, your character will  automatically volley. You can pause the game by pressing START; while paused you can press SELECT to bring up the Virtual Boy start up screen if you need to adjust the IPD or focus.

The game offers you a variety of playing options: picking between singles or doubles, play against a computer or Tournament mode, difficulty setting, match sets, and which of the seven characters you want to play as. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses when out on the field.

  • Mario is the average player. His speed and racquet contact area are average.
  • Lugi is similar to Mario, but he has better coverage of the cort since he is faster.
  • Princess Toadstool has a large racquet contact area, but she lacks speed.
  • Yoshi is the fastest, but his racquet coverage is small.
  • Toad has good speed, but his coverage isn’t very big. He can lunge at tough shots.
  • Koopa Troopa is slower, but he has a large racquet contact area. Like Toad, he can lunge at tough shots.
  • DK Jr. is the slowest of all the players and has a smaller racquet area, but he has the strongest groundstrokes.
  • Birdo at one point was going to be a playable character but was cut. When you play Doubles all seven characters are present, but since eight characters are needed the last box is a ‘?’ which after the first round of games is replaced by one of the looser characters.

From left to right: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Toad, Koopa Troopa, and Donkey Kong Jr.

With these options you may be wondering where’s the two player mode? Unfortunately the game is only single player, but at least it gives you a lot of options to play. Even if it did offer two player mode, no official link cable was created due to the VB’s short life.


It varies depending on what difficulty setting you are playing the game. I found the doubles mode to be harder even on easy mode since you have two characters in your way. I will give credit to the COM AI since if you move to the other side of the tennis court your partner will move to the opposite side immediately.


Since this is the Virtual Boy don’t expect me to talk about colors, like the Game Boy, the Virtual Boy only has four shades of one color (red) so I’ll be taking more about the details of the graphics. The character models look great. They’re well detailed and are well animated, showing how the Virtual Boy is more powerful than the Game Boy. Characters have different animations depending on if you score a point, score a point after doing an overhead smash, and if the other player scores a point.

The tennis court isn’t very special, but the scaling is good. The 3D effects are average here; nothing feels like it’s popping towards me after the intro. Backgrounds are simple, but look nice. Sometimes something will be in the sky like an Albatoss from Super Mario Bros. 2 or an ariship from Super Mario Bros. 3 to try to distract you from the game.


It’s cheerful and goes with the action of playing tennis. Depending on if you’re playing singles or doubles you will get different tracks of music to listen to. Some people may find the tunes to be a little repetitive after playing the game for extended periods of time.

Replay Value

I enjoy playing this game, but it doesn’t have much to differentiate itself from other Tennis games except that it may be the first “3D” tennis game. With only 22 games on the Virtual Boy, and it being the only tennis game of the seven sports games, you may be going back and playing this occasionally. Also with the various options of playing tennis you can tryout which way you like to play Mario’s Tennis.


For a pack in title, Mario’s Tennis does an adequate job at showing the 3D effects of the Virtual Boy, but when you take a step back from the game it’s basically Mario’s Pong. It isn’t a bad thing since the game is still enjoyable to play though. The game has great controls that are easy to understand and fitting tunes that go with what you’re playing. The graphics are well animated and detailed although the tennis court seems like it could have used a bit more detail.

Mario’s Tennis scores a 6/10 (Above Average). The other games in the series offer more gameplay elements so I would recommend playing those over this. If you own a Virtual Boy though I would highly recommend picking it up if you haven’t already. Also if you wan to just try out the first Mario Tennis game you can get an emulator and play it since Virtual Boy’s are costly. A copy of Mario’s Tennis goes for about $11 on eBay.

6 – Above Average6s have good ideas, but may not be executed the best. Can be enjoyable by certain circumstances or fans, but may feel shallow to most.

Thanks for reading my first review of a Virtual Boy game. Feel free to leave a comment. My next two entries  in the Virtual View series will be reviews for the other launch titles games for the Virtual Boy: Red Alarm and Telerboxer.