Genre: Sports
Year: 2004
Developed by: Camelot Software Planning
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Gamecube, Wii
Feeling Like: Love-Love

I like Mario Tennis slightly better. Less hoopla, less gimmicks. Much like how Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour tried to improve on the subtle, sublime Mario Golf, Camelot felt that more was better.

I would’ve been happy with a hardware upgrade and a few bells and whistles more, but I get it. A sequel always has to be bigger, particularly when it graduates to a new console.

There’s one reason and one reason alone I loved Mario Power Tennis. Multiplayer at Bigelow.

It’s hard not to gain widespread attention when you have four drunken university students yelling at a tv with the door open. I, being the only member of the residence with a Gamecube, became the de factor don of video games. Since quietly studying in my room was about the last thing I wanted, I was very pleased with this impromptu title.

NHL ’05, Resident Evil 4, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Soulcalibur 2 and Tales of Symphonia all got their due. Unsurprisingly, they’re all rated quite high on the 500 since the majority of my experiences involve participating, or sitting back and watching dozens of my friends take turns blasting, shooting, punching or spell-casting. Most of my pictures from 3rd year involve some kind of shenanigans in my room with a Gamecube controller in frame.

Apologies for the quality of the screenshot above, I had a really difficult time getting good ones from the web. WEBP files can go fuck themselves, by the way. Why did the internet ruin a good thing? What’s wrong with a JPEG?

The act of hitting the ball and moving to hit the ball can only go so far in video game form, and certainly in the Mario universe the tennis itself is hardly deep. So maybe it was wise of Camelot to include a ton of extras, like how some courts are haunted by ghosts, or sections vanish when a ball hits it. This ensures a zany variety of maneuvers required to stay competitive and changes up the gameplay enough to ensure it’s not just hitting a fuzzy ball back and forth. Nice touch.

But the star of the show is the conveyer belt mini-game.

Or at least, I think it is.

This is where I’m wondering if I’m suffering from some kind of Mandela effect, because I swore Mario Power Tennis had this mini-game where 4 players are each on a conveyer belt. Tennis balls get shot out automatically and where you hit the ball influences whether other player’s conveyer belts speed them to their doom. It was random, chaotic and hilarious, ie, the perfect formula for multiplayer madness.

The thing is…I can’t find any screenshots or video proof that A) this mini-game existed or b) if it did, it was in Mario Power Tennis.

Am I going crazy? I can’t possibly have imagined this.

Either way, that’s why Mario Power Tennis is at spot #206. The offensive/defensive super shots from every character are great, albeit used far too often for my liking. Shy Guy’s little boop noise he makes with every move is hilarious, the game still looks great nearly 20 years later and it’s a natural party game for video game veterans and rookies alike.

But that stupid, apparently fictional conveyer belt mini-game was responsible for more frantic fun than anything else found in the game. It’s a simple, beautiful addition that made all the difference.

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