Developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo in 2000 (in Japan – 2001 everywhere else), Mario Tennis on the Game Boy Color is an alternate handheld version of the Mario-based tennis game on the Nintendo 64 which was published under the same name that same year.
Unlike the N64 version, the Game Boy Color version features a role-playing career mode which allows you to take a character through tennis academy and work yourself up the ranks by playing in various different tournaments.
In true level-grinding RPG fashion you can earn experience points for winning matches and put them into a variety of skills (divided into four categories: spin, power, control, and speed), which will gradually improve your game. There are a number of practise minigames; four different court surfaces; there’s multiplayer linked play, and even the ability to link up to an N64 and share data via a Transfer Pak. Linking the two games will unlock a number of otherwise hidden characters (including Yoshi), and their associated minigames, in the GBC version. Completing the minigames in the GBC game and sharing data back to the N64 will in turn unlock new courts in the N64 version. It’s worth noting that the Virtual Console re-releases of the Mario Tennis games have had the Transfer Pak features removed.
Mario Tennis is a superb game on the Game Boy Color – well worth a play today. It was superseded by Mario Tennis: Power Tour on the Game Boy Advance in 2005, which is a similar game to this but with enhanced presentation and features.