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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Camelot's Credibility-Building Mario Sports Intros

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Will Mario Tennis Aces continue Camelot's cinematography?

People might be sleeping on Mario Tennis Aces, which may or may not be a shame. We don't know for sure yet since it releases next month, but based on what we saw from it back in the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, we should give it the benefit of some doubt. It has a story mode, after all.

Camelot isn't on the best streak of quality gaming lately (no one cared about Mario Sports Superstars, and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash cared more about amiibo than making a game with personality), especially not compared to their heyday. But Mario Tennis Aces has the potential to turn that around.

Mario Tennis Aces Wario Waluigi story adventure mode possessed darkness glowing yellow eyes stone statues
Mario Tennis Aces obviously has cutscenes in it because of its story mode.
This has a lot of potential to bring back the magic last seen from Camelot over a decade ago.

That bit about Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash not being about personality is crucial to this article: Camelot's games were all about developing personality. That focus established credibility that fans could not only trust Camelot to work with the Super Mario franchise, but fans could look forward to when Camelot works with that franchise. (To compare the alternative situation, see the fan reaction for whenever Nintendo hands control of the Yoshi franchise to Artoon/Arzest.)

Let's go over a brief timeline of Camelot's credibility-building cutscene wonderfulness... featuring embedded videos!

Mario Tennis 64

While Mario Golf was the first time that Camelot had worked with the franchise, Mario Tennis 64 had the first actually interesting intro. This introduced Waluigi to the world, and the intro makes it clear that the game is brimming with personality. Between everyone's snide remarks to each other, to their non-verbal expressions, there are a lot of statements being made here. Still, it's not much of a story, but that'll change a few years later...

Mario Tennis 64 cutscene intro Wario Waluigi Bob-omb scared faces
Wario and Waluigi have a couple more misadventures to go!

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour was the first of the two GameCube Mario Sports games to get an introductory cinematic story that goes above-and-beyond. It starts with those dweebish plumbers and their princess pals, and transitions to Wario and Waluigi having a bumbling golf round with Yoshi and Koopa Troopa, and then Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. Eventually, Wario hits a golf ball into King Bowser Koopa's eye, which brands him as yet another enemy of Koopa Kingdom.

That punk plumber ends up making a mess of things. Just as King Dad was going to get justice on Wario and Waluigi, he hits a Bob-omb out of King Dad's claw. This sets up the rest of the game as a war between King Bowser and that plumbing pest, with Wario and Waluigi on a third side. Expressed through golf.

I'm not sure if we can credit the Toadstool Tour Today with Sandy Green web series that was on the official Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour website to Camelot, but there is no doubt in my mind that it would have never existed if not for the personality-driven infrastructure that Camelot brought to Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour. The entire series is lost to digital decay, but Rawk preserved the very first episode:

Mario Power Tennis

Camelot's work for Mario Power Tennis is their greatest cinematic achievement. After Wario and Waluigi lose a doubles game to those always-in-the-way Mario Brothers, they vandalise the tournament bracket with marker. After being chased by the police, they end up in King Bowser's training centre. In there, the ever-merciful King of Koopas overlooks their transgression from Toadstool Tour and instead trains them with gym equipment so they can be competent tennis players, because we all share a common enemy in the Mario Bros. While Wario and Waluigi work out, King Bowser watches the rest of the tournament proceed, until the finals match arrives. As expected, those nuisances Mario and Luigi are in the finals. Bowser forcibly inserts Wario and Waluigi into the match, but they don't even attempt to put any of their training to use and just shoot Bob-ombs instead. It ends disastrously.

If they just played tennis like King Dad trained them to, instead of immediately going for shooting Bob-ombs, they'd probably win...

Mario Power Tennis opening cutscene introduction Bowser tennis racket arms raised power pose
King Bowser has mastered the tennis racket.

Mario Power Tennis additionally featured offensive and defensive Power Shots, which had unique animations for each character. For example, King Bowser's offensive Power Shot was flame breath applied to the tennis ball, and his defensive Power Shot was a Whirling Fortress. Wario's offensive Power Shot was applying the exercise machine seen in the cutscene. (Say that sentence out loud.) Clearly, the personality carried throughout the whole experience, which only added to Mario Power Tennis's enjoyability.

Mario Golf: World Tour

Here as a sort of honourable-but-not-really mention is Camelot's semi-recent 2014 game, Mario Golf: World Tour for the 3DS. It lacks an introduction cutscene, but you can see that care went into each character's post-hole animations.

Camelot could have put in some additional attention for making an introduction cutscene to set expectations for every new player, along with have something awesome to show to potential new players to draw them into the game. Somewhere in Camelot, they still have that brilliance. Let's hope Mario Tennis Aces can bring it out and restore Camelot's credibility.

Ludwig would now like to admit that the only Camelot games he actually owns are the three Golden Sun titles, and Mario Tennis 64. He considers it a personal deficiency that he never bought Mario Power Tennis despite playing its demo for a long time on multiple occasions at stores, and of course, watching its opening cutscene a whole lot. He's not into golf, though.

Waluigi is no stranger to being blown up and caught in explosions, like when the CIA tried to assassinate him.


  1. This game at least offers more options than Ultra Smash did. It has a story mode, tournaments, and a traditional mode that does not rely on any trick shots or gimmicks. I will not pick it up since I am not into the sports genre, but I will have to watch the cutscenes to see how it plays out.

    1. More-or-less so did Ultra Smash besides story mode.

      There is a world of difference between a sports game like Mario Tennis Aces and a sports game like FIFA 18. Maybe that's something I'll write about later...


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