So my retro Mario Tennis session then.... I decided to play Power Tour on GBA. Its a good game, critically acclaimed and all that, but it doesn't play all that well - tennis games are concerned with the placement and height of your shots, so playing the game in 2D isn't as good as 3D. I was messing around with it anyway, and played it on the Micro first. My favourite GBA, but for Mario Tennis it just didn't work - it makes the court just too small.
Next I tried it out on the old skool GBA, which is one fantastic handheld. Well, it is if your have an industrial strength light above your head
Its definately the GBA that has the best controls and all round "feel", but the lack of light on it is a deal-breaker in this day and age. Still though, for precision play it is fantastic for Mario Tennis, and the court is nice and big on screen. Definately the console you want to use for racers and games that demand prcise control.
Stuck it into the GBA SP next, the front-lit model. It was good of course, with the big well lit screen, but the buttons and D-pad on the SP leave a lot to be desired. They just don't offer the precision required. I tried Mario Tennis on the DS Lite and its great, but the colours aren't right - it looks garish, but bright, and controls great.
After all that messing around (you can tell I had nothing better to do with my evening!) I got out the N64, poked around for an AV lead for about ten minutes at least, then got it all set up on my old shitty portable telly. And its still a fantastic title - hasn't aged a bit. Had a ball with it as usual. I genuinely don't know if its better than Open on the 3DS though - they both have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, lob shots just don't work in Mario Tennis 64 - you will be on the receiving end of a smash hot 9 times out of 10 if you perform a lob. They work very well on the 3DS game though. Serving is much better on the N64 title because you can actually fault, which is very hard to do on the 3DS game. Aces are possible on the N64 game, but very hard on the 3DS title. The tournament structure is better on the 3DS than on N64. The graphics and portability factor are plusses for the 3DS game, but the N64 is that bit more realistic..... Tough call. I do think Mario Tennis Open on the 3DS XL is going to be phenomenal.
With the N64 out, I decided to give Diddy Kong Racing a spin. I censored loved this game growing up. Played today however.... the dodgy frame-rate is very apparent. With a lot of racers on screen in the more complex levels, its very low. I didn't notice it all that much as a kid playing it, but its very obvious now. It took me a while to get used to it I will admit, as did the game's difficult handling model for anyone but the smallest characters, but after a while I started to get really back into this racer again and I had a blast! The graphics have a lovely style to them, the courses are superbly designed, the music is great and the gameplay is brilliant. The challenge of the game is very high, but very fair. This is a really special video game from the masters at Rare. Sure, today's Mario Kart 7 and Sonic & Sega Racing are technically far superior, but Diddy is designed so well it still remains my favourite kart racer ever.
I got stuck into Star Wars Episode 1 Racer next, which has aged quite well. It too has a dodgy frame rate, but is very original in its gameplay and design. The levels are very long too near the end of it, clocking it at over 3 minutes per lap!
I remember how amazing the graphics were back in '99 when this was cutting edge. It still looks pretty good. The course designs are still great too, and the challenge and "betting" feature make the campiagn mode well worth playing even today.
The N64 is one of my favourite systems, but it has its fair share of dated video games now - case in point: GoldenEye 007. But it has some great games too that stand the test of time really well. Super Mario 64 is one of them. I was playing this recently and it is still astonishing to behold. Love the N64, and I really must put more time and money into it.....