We've all played Super Mario Bros. to death, but Mario Tennis Open presents this classic platformer in such an uncommon way, I couldn't help but be impressed by the ingenuity and replay value of this new take.
Each level of Super Mario Bros. is projected -- at a slow pace -- on a wall while players smash a tennis ball into things. You don't stomp Goombas, you pulverize them with a tennis ball. You don't smash blocks to grab powerups; you smash blocks with a tennis ball and receive rewards, which then augment your tennis ball appropriately. A mushroom, for instance, will make your tennis ball grow in size.
There are a few tweaks to each level -- at least in World 1-1, 1-2 and 1-3. I found coins situated in different places, and at certain points I found the change was simply the addition of more coins or blocks.
The pressure of a constantly draining clock adds a layer of desperation and panic to the experience. In order to add time and keep going through the level, you have to constantly pelt the wall with your tennis balll, adding time by acquiring coins, killing enemies and grabbing powerups. It's an interesting concept, and one that I'm anxious to see play out in some of the more complicated Super Mario Bros.
levels.Mario Tennis Open
launches on the Nintendo 3DS in North America on May 20.