Mario didn't really make a splash onto the Game Boy Color, other than the sports titles. The second Mario sports title to be released for the Game Boy Color was Mario Tennis as a counterpart to it's Nintendo 64 version. Developed by Camelot, Mario Tennis hit the handheld gaming world with all kinds of blazing slices and top spins.
Mario Golf set a nice standard, but Mario Tennis for the Game Boy Color shatters it. Mario Tennis is truly a great game despite the fact that is on the Game Boy Color. Camelot did everything right and not a whole lot wrong, leaving it to be an instant classic in the legacy of the Mario handheld games.
The game starts with a player choosing their character, whether it be male or female. The player is at the Academy, learning to play tennis. Of course, the ultimate goal is to win the Island Open and the chance to play Mario. Only by becoming the highest member at the Academy can a player do this, and only then will the player have the opportunity.
It's a bit of a stretch for a storyline, but if a tennis game was going to have one, it may as well be that. Going through the Academy ranks is incredibly fun. The gameplay is tremendous - fast paced, simple to learn, tennis related/efficient, and incredibly fun. It can lead to hours of play before it gets to be repetitive or boring, which is rarely the case. The timing is also spot on, especially with serves and volleys.
The Academy also offers a ton of different matches and tournaments, leading to a lengthy amount of play time, which makes it good that it's a fun game to play. There's not a whole lot of difficulty in the earlier rounds, but it suffices until the game starts to pick up where the beginning lacks. There can actually be a difference in a match if a player decides to use top spin or slice, which was a true surprise.
And of course, the Academy also offers Doubles, so it's not like a player goes through it once and is done. The Doubles aspect of the game is just as fun as the singles, minus the fact that a player can't possibly hit every shot. There is also a problem with the player's partners level, as it always seems like he or she is a little bit too good. At the same time, the computer opponents also are very talented in later rounds, so it evens out pretty nicely.
Outside the matches, players are free to move around throughout the Academy. The movement on the "map" is very nice, and there are a lot of secrets to be found throughout the complex, along with mini-games. All the mini-games are focused on certain parts of tennis, and some can be quite difficult to complete.
Another one of the nicer features in Mario Tennis is the graphical look of it. There's not a whole lot to work with on the Game Boy Color, but Camelot did a nice job on the graphics. The audio isn't bad either, but there are some areas where it could've been tuned up. It's very easy to see the ball and such, and it's great that each court and area has a different look.
Mario Tennis for the Game Boy Color wasn't a big hit, and it won't be considered one. It's a Game Boy Color game, and that's about all it'll ever get recognition wise. But in reality, it's a great game, featuring great play, looks, and audio.
Overall Score: 9.2/10