Mario Tennis (JP) is a brand of long-running sports games that features tennis matches incorporating the characters, themes, and locations of the Mario franchise. Though preceded by several earlier tennis games featuring the Mario character, the series was created for Nintendo by its partner Camelot Software Planning (which also created the Mario Golf series), and saw its first installment on the Nintendo 64 console in 2000. Since the series made its initial debut, each successive generation has featured a console and a handheld version. The Mario Tennis series' first game was the second project developed by Camelot for a Nintendo system, and saw three sequels in total (with the original game and the first sequel also being ported to their consoles' respective handheld companions).
Mario Tennis includes variations of tennis matches consisting of characters, courts, and scenarios based on the Mario franchise. The selection of courts varies, ranging from the standard three types of tennis court, to those themed upon Mario games, which adopt the aesthetic styles of the games on which they are based and feature thematic elements that influence how the match will be played on that surface (some of which manifest themselves as obstacles that hinder character movements or otherwise interfere with gameplay). In addition to standard tennis, Mario Tennis can feature variants of the sport that adopt different rules and methods of victory.
The control system differs significantly from other tennis video games. Shots are performed by pressing one or both of the controller's two main buttons, 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, while also encouraging advanced players to take advantage of the variety of shots on offer to come up with different strategies for winning points. In addition to generic tennis moves, later on the series began to feature special "Power Shots," unique moves that incorporate the specific qualities of the characters that use them; Power Tour specifically categorizes them as either "offensive" shots (those that power up the ball and put various side effects on players with whom they make contact) or "defensive" shots (those that negate the secondary effects of offensive shots and reach balls that would normally be out of reach).
Many game modes have appeared throughout the Mario Tennis series. The central mode of play is "Tournament Mode," which comprises a set of events with accumulating difficulty, where players play tennis matches in either doubles or singles, needing to win two games to win a set, and unlock playable characters if they finish successfully. Another major mode of play is "Exhibition Mode," where up to four players can play matches of their own, with players being able to choose opponents for computer control, and the conditions of the match such as the difficulty of opponents, the court used, and the number of games and sets required to win. Later games introduced modes like "Ring Shot," where players can earn points by hitting the ball through rings of varying sizes; "Item Battle," where characters use items based on the Mario universe to interfere with each other's game and gain an advantage; and special minigames where the player can meet a tennis-related objective, incorporating themes from past Nintendo games.
Mario Tennis games feature a selection of playable characters from the Mario franchise, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Yoshi, Birdo, Wario, Waluigi, Donkey Kong, Bowser, and several others. Characters are categorized into six groups that reflect their playing style: all-around, technical, power, speed, defensive, and tricky. Many of the player-characters in Mario Tennis recur as playable throughout the various series of Mario spin-offs; sometimes, games feature characters for whom a tennis game marks their first playable appearances altogether, such as Shy Guy and Wiggler. For Waluigi, the original Mario Tennis was his first appearance, and for Daisy and Birdo, that game marked their re-introductions and (in Daisy's case) permanent establishment into the recurring cast roster of the Mario franchise.
The first two handheld Mario Tennis titles feature role-playing game elements, where the player controls a young boy or girl character who has enrolled at the Royal Tennis Academy and must set out to become the top-ranked player there, enter a tournament called "The Island Open" to challenge other tennis champions from elsewhere in the world, and afterward travel to the Mushroom Kingdom to challenge its stars, ending with a match against the game world's greatest tennis player of all, Mario. The first- and second-generation Mario Tennis games have connectivity functions where a player is able to import characters and data from the home console game to its handheld counterpart, and vice versa. The third generation of Mario Tennis removes the RPG elements and the ready-made human characters altogether, with Mario Tennis Open instead allowing players to use their own Mii characters as saved in the Nintendo 3DS Mii Maker, who have variable skills and can equip special gear to improve their skills, and costumes upon completing certain objectives. On a related note, data saved in Mario Tennis Open is not transferable to Ultra Smash, as these two games are not direct counterparts to each other.
|Cover, original release, and system||Synopsis|
|Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)|
July 21, 2000
|Mario Tennis is a Nintendo 64 video game. It features Mario and his friends playing a classic game of tennis, with a few Mario twists. This game marked the debut of Waluigi, and also Princess Daisy and Birdo's re-entries into the Mario series. It is also the first playable appearance of Boo, Paratroopa, and Shy Guy.|
|Mario Tennis (Game Boy Color)|
November 1, 2000
Game Boy Color
|Mario Tennis is a tennis game for the Game Boy Color. The game features Mario and other characters. It also introduced a RPG-like story mode, where the player controlled Alex or Nina on a tennis adventure to beat the best of all players, Mario.|
|Mario Power Tennis|
October 28, 2004
|Mario Power Tennis is a game for the Nintendo GameCube. It is the sequel of Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64. In this game, Mario and his various friends (and enemies) meet up to play a few rounds of tennis. Like previous Mario sports titles, all the playable characters have Power Shots. Additionally, there are courts in the game that have special effects and events during the game. Also, for each court, there are special games to play. The game introduces Diddy Kong, Bowser Jr., Fly Guy, Petey Piranha, and Wiggler as playable characters to the series.|
|Mario Tennis: Power Tour|
September 13, 2005
Game Boy Advance
|Mario Tennis: Power Tour is very similar to its GameCube counterpart, except it is for the Game Boy Advance. It brings back the RPG elements of its predecessor. The game is not compatible with Mario Power Tennis like its golf counterpart. The PAL region's name for this game is Mario Power Tennis (same as the GameCube game). The game's story has the player controlling tennis student Clay or Ace as they rise through the ranks of the Royal Tennis Academy.|
|Mario Tennis Open|
May 20, 2012
|Mario Tennis Open was released for the Nintendo 3DS. It features some elements from Mario Power Tennis. This game features gyroscope support and online multiplayer (via Nintendo Network). The new playable characters are Baby Peach, Dry Bowser, Luma, and Metal Mario. The game also makes use of QR Codes as a method to unlock certain content.|
|Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash|
November 20, 2015
|Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash was released for the Wii U. Chance Shots from Mario Tennis Open return, and a new mode called Mega Battle is introduced, where Mega Mushrooms that give players advantages in power and defense are thrown on the court. It is also the first Mario Tennis game to be compatible with amiibo. Rosalina, Toadette, and Sprixie Princess are playable for the first time in the series in this game.|
|Mario Tennis Aces|
June 22, 2018
|Mario Tennis Aces is a Mario Tennis game for the Nintendo Switch. The game features a story mode (a first in the home console installments) and some new shot types, such as the Zone Shot, which can break rackets. In addition, some characters have redesigned appearances, such as Mario wearing a tennis hat and a tennis outfit instead of his usual cap and overalls by default. The game introduces Spike and Chain Chomp as playable characters to the series, as well as Blooper, Boom Boom, Pauline, Kamek, Dry Bones, and Fire Piranha Plant post-launch. It is the first installment to have alternate costumes for characters. It led to the release of two online demos and a browser trivia quiz on the Play Nintendo website.|
|Cover, original release, and system||Synopsis|
July 21, 1995
|Mario's Tennis is a Virtual Boy game, the first tennis-related Mario game. It features Mario and the other playable characters from Super Mario Kart (except Bowser) playing a classic game of tennis. The game was one of the first Virtual Boy games to be released and is one out of the only three Mario games to be released on the Virtual Boy.|
|Mario Sports Superstars|
March 10, 2017
|Mario Sports Superstars is a Nintendo 3DS game that was released in March 2017. Tennis, developed by Camelot like the main series, is included as one of the five sports available. Its gameplay is similar to Mario Tennis Open, though with the inclusion of Jump Shots and Ultra Smashes from Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. In addition, Baby Luigi and Pink Gold Peach, who have not yet been playable in the main Mario Tennis series, are playable in this game.|
New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis
This game is a Wii port of Mario Power Tennis for the Nintendo GameCube. As part of the New Play Control! lineup, the game makes use of the Wii's motion controls. This version includes a tutorial movie to demonstrate how to use the Wii Remote in this game. Players can choose to play with the Wii Remote only, or with the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combination for advanced control of playable character participants.
- In Nintendo Monopoly, there is a Brick Block/Coin Block card that rewards $100 for winning a tennis tournament.
- Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach, as well as Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Waluigi if Mario's Tennis is discounted, are the only characters that are playable in every Mario Tennis game to date.