This is the first game in the Mario Tennis series to feature motion controls and online play. It also introduced many playable characters to the Mario Tennis series and combined the types of Power Shots seen in Mario Power Tennis into the Finishing Shot.
The game's successor, Mario Tennis Open, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012.
Players participate in a tennis game, just as its precedents in the Mario Tennis series. To win, the player must score points by hitting the ball into the other side of the court and not making the opponent rebound the ball, just as the traditional way of playing tennis. Players earn 15 points for every shot that is successful and can win the game by earning set, game, and match points by earning 60 points on each game. The amount of set and game points can be set by the player in exhibition mode, but not in tournament mode.
This game introduces the Energy Gauge later seen in Mario Tennis Aces. Every time any of the characters on the court perform a specific action the Gauge will fill up by the corresponding amount. When the Gauge reaches 100% the character can execute their character-specific Finishing Shot. These are activated by pressing L and R (B + Z in the WiiMote + Nunchuk combo and B + A in the WiiMote control scheme) after the ball has been returned by the opposing character. The actions and how much they fill up the Gauge are listed here:
- If both characters/teams are keeping up a rally the Gauge will increase by 5% with every hit.
- When a point is scored the Gauge will increase by 10%.
- If the player can successfully return a Smash Shot the Gauge will increase by 20%.
- If the player can successfully return the opponent's Finishing Shot the Gauge will increase by 50%.
This game also has optional motion controls where the controls are similar to Wii Sports Tennis.
Up to four players can participate in this versus mode. The players can choose their characters, a court, and what type of game that they can play. The player can also adjust rules in versus match, such as turning Finishing Shots on and off, setting the numbers of games and sets, and choose which character to pair with when playing in doubles. Computer levels can also be set by the player, and they range from easiest to hardest: novice, intermediate, expert, pro, and the unlockable ace difficulty. There are two types of games that the player can play:
- Standard match: The player(s) and opponent(s) participate in a standard game of tennis. The only gimmicks are the ball speed and bounce intensity and the Finishing Shots (if turned on).
- Item match: The player can use special items to help them win against the opponent. To do so, the player must hit an Item Box with the ball and receive a random item, very much like in the Mario Kart series, except that the item received isn't dependent if the player is losing or not.
- Green Koopa Shell: 3 shells zoom out in straight lines. If the player gets hit by one, they will stumble and lose time, possibly going as far as help the opponent gain a point.
- Red Koopa Shell: One Red Shell comes out and chases after the opponent. The effect is similar to that of a green shell if contact has been initiated.
- Mushroom: The Mushroom increases the player's movements for a brief moment of time. It also grows the player back into normal size quicker if they had been shrunk by Lightning.
- Banana: A stationary banana gets shot out. If it hits the ground, the banana remains there. Slipping on a banana peel also has the same effect as shells.
- Star: The Star increases the player's abilities and it makes the player invulnerable for a short period of time. It also grows the player back to normal size quicker, if the player was shrunk by Lightning.
- Lightning: The Lightning strikes the opponents of the court and shrinks them to a tiny size. The opponent's speed, stature, and power will also decrease.
Unlike Mario Power Tennis, the item box's contents and amount do not depend on the court being played.
The player pits against simultaneous matches against computer opponents to win the trophy in a cup. The higher the cup level, the harder the computers will get. Once a character has completed Star Cup, the character receives a star ranking, strengthening hitting the ball. This rank also allows the character to participate in the Star Tournament, where the opponents also have the star ranking and are generally more difficult. Unlike previous games, the Doubles Tournaments can be played with another human player although the player still has the option to play alongside the CPU. Completing the World Open in Doubles still does not grant the character a star ranking though, so players must complete the Singles tournaments first to participate in Doubles Star Tournament.
These tournaments are held in the Royal Stadium court.
- Mushroom Cup: 1-set starting round, 1-set semifinals, 3-set finals (hard surface)
- Flower Cup: 1-set starting round, 3-set semifinals, 3-set finals (clay surface)
- Star Cup: 1-set starting round, 3-set semifinals, 5-set finals (grass surface)
In these tournaments the player plays on randomly selected courts against Star CPU characters.
- Star Cup: 1-set starting round, 1-set semifinals, 3-set finals, held in the Kart Circuit, Peach's Castle and Mushroom Bridge courts in no particular order
- Diamond Cup: 1-set starting round, 3-set semifinals, 3-set finals, held in the Cheep Cheep Dome, Desert Hills and Bob-Omb Factory courts in no particular order
- Champion's Cup: 1-set starting round, 3-set semifinals, 5-set finals, held in the Dry Bones' Boardwalk, Luigi's Mansion and Bowser's Castle courts in no particular order
- Records: Players can view records on all types of game modes played. If the records are on Exhibition, they can view what character they played and won against. Note that this only applies to beaten computer players by the player shown in a table. The shape of the win depends on the difficulty of the computer (a triangle means novice, a circle means intermediate, a circle with a dot in the middle means expert, a moon means pro, and a star means ace. Plus, a small star icon on the top right corner indicates that the computer was beaten when starred). If the records are on Tournament, the players can view the trophies won in a singles or doubles match with the character the player chosen.
- Options: The players can adjust in game settings, such as setting the sound system to mono, stereo, or surround, turning music on and off, turning rumble on and off, and setting control options. Control options can be set to easy, normal, and technical, which differs the controls the players must use. The players can also choose to delete save data, but once it is deleted, it cannot be restored.
A total of 24 playable characters are in Mario Tennis: Masters. 17 characters are playable from the start and 7 need to be unlocked before playing as them.
Characters are divided into 6 different play styles, listed below.
- All Around: A character that is above average in all categories.
- Speedy: A character that can get to the ball in time, but lacks raw strength and often reach.
- Power: A character that can hit the ball with great force, but lacks speed and ball control.
- Technique: A character that can place the ball on the corners of the net, but can lack speed and power.
- Tricky: A character that can curve the ball, but often lacks reach.
- Defense: A character that can easily hit the ball from any position, but lacks power and speed.
Although their stats are not visible, each character has slightly different attributes from each other.
|Character||Image||Character type||Bio||Finishing Shot|
|Mario||All-Around||The Mushroom Kingdom's biggest celebrity. With the power of fire on his side, Mario is ready to rock and roll!||Fire Mario. Mario eats a Fire Flower, allowing him to send the ball blazing back at breakneck speeds.|
|Luigi||All-Around||While Luigi certainly isn't as brave as his older brother, he can send the ball whizzing past opponents thanks to Professor E. Gadd's Poltergust 3000!||Poltergust Power. Luigi sucks the ball up with the trusty Poltergust and blows it back out with force.|
|Princess Peach||Technique||The elegant princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. She wouldn't hurt a fly right? WRONG! Peach certainty isn't afraid to get her hands dirty if it means winning!||Heavenly Kiss. Peach blows a kiss to the opponent, stunning them, and whacks the ball elsewhere.|
|Princess Daisy||Technique||Daisy has a serious attitude and she isn't afraid to show it on the court.||Flower Power. Daisy catches the ball in a giant flower. It's petals curl up and suddenly send the ball flying.|
|Yoshi||Speedy||A partner of Mario since the plumber's birth, Yoshi can utilise his signature eggs to get a sure-fire win.||Egg Toss. Yoshi eats the ball and digests it as an egg. He then smashes it over to the opponent's side.|
|Baby Mario||Speedy||The younger version of Mario arrives to speed along the court. He has the best speed in the game!!||Chain Chomp. Baby Mario summons a Chain Chomp which he picks up and swings around to hit the ball.|
|Donkey Kong||Power||A powerful simian who hails from the Kongo Jungle.||Barrel Blast. DK catches the ball in a Barrel Cannon and sends it soaring back.|
|Diddy Kong||Speedy||An energetic ape who happens to be DK's nephew.||Peanut Popgun: Diddy catches the ball in his Peanut Popgun. He fires into the air, jumps up and whacks it back down.|
|Wario||Power||The anti-hero of the Mario World. His Finishing Shot is a powerful but disgusting...fart explosion.||Gas Bomb. Wario flies up high and swallows the ball and swells like a balloon. He then explodes into fart gas, sending the ball flying.|
|Waluigi||Defense||The only Defensive character you start off with is the purple creep Waluigi. Use his skills wisely.||Water-ligi. Waluigi swims high up and hits the ball down towards his opponent.|
|Koopa||Speedy||While usually a follower of Bowser, this tubular turtle takes to the court to battle it out no matter the opponent.||Shell Shot. Koopa chucks the ball far into the sky, retracts into his shell and slams himself against the ball.|
|Paratroopa||Technique||Paratroopa manages to be a pretty unpredictable opponent thanks to it's wings. Watch out for it's sneaky behaviour on the court.||Aerial Assault. Paratroopa chucks the ball far into the sky and skydives down towards it, headbutts it and sends it flying.|
|Bowser||Power||The Great King of the Koopas. His Finishing Shot involves scorching the ball to red hot temperatures and sending it flying!||Barbecued Ball. Bowser breathes fire onto the ball and throws it back to the opponent.|
|Bowser Jr.||Tricky||The bratty prince of the Koopa Empire won't hesitate to cheat if it means getting to the top of the ranks!||Colour Explosion. Bowser Jr sends a huge ball of paint towards the opponent's side. When it explodes, it sends the ball over the opponent similarly to a lob shot.|
|Toad||Speedy||After 8 years of absence, Toad returns to the tennis scene to show off his speedy skills.||Poison Mushroom. Toad hits both the ball and a Poison Mushroom. The Mushroom will automatically hit the opponent, slowing them down, while the ball travels to the other side of the court.|
|Boo||Tricky||A ghost? Playing tennis? Boo can confuse it's opponents in many ways.||Triple Trouble. Boo absorbs the ball and spits back out three in different directions. The fake balls are a slightly darker green, possibly helping the opponent know which one to hit back.|
|Shy Guy||Technique||This guy ain't so shy anymore! He'll be zipping up and down courts hitting balls with great accuracy.||Stilt Kick. Shy Guy turns into a Stilt Guy and kicks the ball back.|
As with most Mario sports games more characters can be played as once you meet a certain criteria. These unlockable characters and their unlock criteria are listed below.
|Character||Image||Character type||Bio||Finishing Shot|
|Toadette||Tricky||She may look cute and innocent but Toadette can be one of the best characters at your disposal.||Ultra Hammer. Toadette hits the ball back with the Ultra Hammer from the Paper Mario games, likely referencing her role in TTYD.|
|Toadsworth||Technique||Many may consider Peach's steward to be too old to play tennis but he'll prove them all wrong once he steps on court.||Mega Cane: Toadsworth's cane enlarges itself allowing him to hit the ball with immense power.|
|Baby Luigi||Speedy||The usually terrified toddler comes out his shell to deliver some awesome shots!||Golden Chomp: Baby Luigi summons a Golden Chain Chomp which he swings around to hit the ball. This Shot is slightly more powerful than Baby Mario's Finishing Shot.|
|Dry Bones||Tricky||If you though Boo was an odd choice take a look at Dry Bones! He's got a bone to pick with anyone who underestimates his abilities.||Dry Racket: Dry Bones turns into a pile of bones and regenerates as a giant racket. He then hits the ball.|
|Dark Bones||Power||He may just look like a recolour of Dry Bones but this undead dude has power on his side!||Dark Racket: Dark Bones turns into a pile of bones and regenerates as a giant racket. He then hits the ball. This shot is more powerful but slightly slower than Dry Bones' Finishing Shot.|
|Blooper||Defense||When this squid floats on court, no balls are safe from it's grasp. It's slimy tentacles can reach the farthest corners of any court!||Inksplosion. Blooper sucks up the ball and spits it back out with a torrent of ink. If the ink hits the receiver he or she will be slowed down.|
|Mii||All-Around||The only All-Around character to be unlockable can be anyone you want!||The Mii can pick from any other character's Finishing Shots to use in matches. The Shot chosen cannot be changed in the middle of a match/Tournament.
The Mii can only use Finishing Shots from characters that have already been unlocked.
|Character||Main unlock method||Alternate unlock method|
|Toadette||Win the World Open cups in Singles|
|Toadsworth||Win the World Open cups in Doubles|
|Baby Luigi||Win the Star Open cups in Singles|
|Blooper||Win the Star Open cups in Doubles|