Nintendo’s Virtual Boy was virtually useless. While the idea was intriguing, the execution, and the support for the unit was a complete disaster. I can remember visiting The Wiz back in the 90’s, playing their demo unit, and developing eye strains and pretty bad headaches from just five minutes of gameplay. The unit, the use of red and black and the games themselves defined the word “eyesore” in more than one way.
A little over a year ago, I decided to pick up a Virtual Boy off ebay, just to say I own one. The unit was missing the comfort padding that helped viewing games a bit easier, and the base was cracked near the stand, but I digress. I intended it to be my trophy more than anything. What I had totally forgotten about, was that the unit came with one game in the cartridge slot, and it was the game I was the most familiar with — Mario’s Tennis. Risking further brain damage and helping to destroy my vision even further, I decided to give it a go and write up a review on it. Will my impending doctors bill be worth it?
As mentioned earlier, Virtual Boy titles are all red and black. Nothing in-between. Naturally, there’s a 3D element to the games as well, although with Mario’s Tennis, there’s really no 3D to be had. The visuals are as bare bones as you can get. The character models do hold a bit of detail to them, however, when placed upon such a dead area, they stick out like a sore thumb. The game fails to introduce any sort of depth perception into this game or into mostly any game they made. The ball never feels as if it’s going to hit you when you miss a swing, and the ball goes sailing towards your face.
Speaking of missing swings, thanks in part to the somewhat unorthodox perspective, I find myself missing quite a few swings. I swing at the right time, and for some reason, it’s a miss 25% of the time. It’s not a matter of mistimed or misaligned shots, as a high percentage of those missed swings involve tennis balls at a direct proximity of my racket. When you can land an actual hit on the ball, the gameplay feels quite unremarkable. There’s nothing that separates Mario’s Tennis from any other tennis game on any other system. No power ups, no zany physics, no spectacular courts to play in. The only thing that can distinguish Mario’s Tennis from any other tennis game, is the fact that it’s red and black.
Unfortunately, it took several attempts to get a good enough impression of Mario’s Tennis, thanks to prolonged gameplay exposure causing numerous side effects to my health. My final attempt to play Mario’s Tennis ended with nausea, eye strain, a dulled out headache, and the hiccups….although the latter could have been from something else. Was it worth the physical anguish? No, not in the least. Mario’s Tennis has absolutely no identity. The graphics are overly simplified, the collision detection has some issues, and there’s absolutely nothing to the experience that separates it from any other tennis game, aside from a splitting headache. Enjoy the first, and last Virtual Boy review of this project, unless there’s something so astonishingly good or bad, that I have to risk developing a brain tumor to play it.