Talcum powder. Robinson's Barley Water. Vitus Gerulitis. Idiots in Union Jack jester hats. Damp sweatbands. Pat Cash "jamming" with Mark Knopfler. Tennis has got a funny image all things considered. It is with great trepidation that we learn from Mario that he's started playing tennis. But there's no need to fear - Mario Tennis lives up to its pre-match billing. It's the biggest injection the sport's enjoyed since Bjorn Borg did something unspeakable in a Gothenburg sauna.
You've seen Mario in his Pringle sweater in Mario Golf. Now he goes onto the court in the tennis sim that gives you laughs, style and a very impressive and realistic gameplay. A simple pick and play, Mario Tennis also caters for the tennis purist by replicating all the various court surfaces on the ATP tour.
With Mario Tennis all the Nintendo characters slip into their shorts and get out on court. The big serving ape Donkey Kong proves pretty deadly on grass although mobility counts against him on the slower clay. Baby Mario proves to be a pretty nifty player around the court showing lots of mobility and class - watch out for the cheeky drop shot. You'll find a total of 16 characters in the dressing room you'll find players of the calibre of Yoshi, Boo, Waluigi and Wario.
Players get the choice to take on players in one off matches, but then also play in tournaments ranging from the Mushroom Cup (a kind of East Lancashire Under 11s standard) through to the Wimbledon of Mario Tennis - the Star Cup. Away from your traditional tennis, you can also have a knock up on Bowser's Stage. Hit the ball into the squares and you get the chance to chuck banana skins or even missiles at your opponent over the net. And the court rocks too. No, quite literally, rocks.
Addictive, fun, technically excellent all-round great entertainment. And that's what it's all about isn't it?
Mario Tennis, out on N64 on November 3rd