AU Diary: New Balls Please

mario power tennis wii screenshot 20090304.jpg

I received a package in the mail this morning from Nintendo. Sadly, it didn't contain a DSi. But the Wii-make of Mario Power Tennis was a decent alternative.

I've been playing it for about an hour now and my initial impressions are: it's hard. Surprisingly so. Compared to Wii Sports' Tennis, this is a serious challenge.

When you start your first game, a tutorial quickly runs you through the new motion controls. Moving the Wiimote is intended to mimic a real tennis racquet, so a right-handed motion from down by your side, cutting upwards across your body plays a topspin drive. The opposite movement plays a sliced shot. Serves, smashes, lobs, and drop shots all work in a similar fashion, with each sporting their own Wiimote swing or flick.

Some of the other elements I noticed included how player movement is automatic when playing with just the Wiimote. But plug in the nunchuk and you assume manual control of your character's movement. There's a range of difficulty options, with each of the four levels adding another element of manual control to your power shots and the ability to dive. Finally, you can taunt your opponent by flicking the Wiimote when the ball's in their court, which results in a small decrease in their power gauge.

What left me confused is that these motion controls don't change regardless of whether you're playing a forehand or backhand shot. My old tennis playing habits instinctively took over and I found myself constantly trying to play, say, a top spin backhand by swinging the Wiimote from left to right... which does absolutely nothing. More practice is definitely required, something I'm keen to do because the rest of the game looks like it provides the kind of depth sorely missing from Wii Sports.

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (yes, that's really what they're calling it) is out on March 26 for the very respectable price of $49.95.



    I popped into the office of the street press mag I write for today and saw a copy of this sitting in someone else's pigeon hole. *sigh*.

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