Mario is back in the tennis game, this time on a whole new console, with brand new characters and mechanics. Mario Tennis Aces is the latest entry in the Mario tennis franchise, releasing on June 22nd, 2018 following an online tournament demo from earlier in the month. In case you didn’t know, anyone who happened to participate in the online tournament demo will receive a classic Mario skin to use in-game. Now, let’s take a look at Nintendo’s new tennis game with a twist.
The game offers you four different game modes, each providing different experiences. These game modes are: Adventure Mode, Online tournament, Free Play and Swing mode. Adventure mode sees you playing as Mario trying to save your brother and the world from an evil tennis racket named Lucien. As strange as this ploy is, Nintendo pulls it off just as well as they have in their other quirky title’s (I’m looking at you, Sushi Strikers). As you traverse through the Adventure mode, you won’t just find yourself playing through the same thing over and over again. In fact, Nintendo has done an amazing job at making the adventure varied in order to make sure it is not tedious for the player. On your way through, you will face puzzles, boss fights and special stages, such as firing tennis balls at piranha plants or finding your way out of a mirror room. The different courts are also a lot of fun as the major differences they display make them exciting to figure out and even more fun to master, like Bask Ruins, a desert of sorts, means the ball won’t bounce much on the sandy terrain, or Mirage Mansion, which takes place in a ghost house.
Thankfully, the game is not overly easy. I even found myself struggling after I got around halfway through the story. Luckily, if you are struggling with a level, you can repeat previous levels in order to level up and boost your stats to make the upcoming match a bit easier. This story mode, along with the game’s new mechanics: Zone Shot, which sees you go into a first-person perspective to take a speedy and more accurate shot, and Zone Speed, which sees you slow down time to get to the tennis ball quickly, make for a great time. Both of these new mechanics, plus with returning moves like the special shot, are charged with the new energy gauge, which can be filled by playing the match well.
Online tournament is pretty much what you would expect, a tournament that puts you up against other players to ultimately come out on top. Online tournament is where I spent most of my time in the game, but sadly, it isn’t without its flaws. First of all, thanks to a lack of a stat system, you have no idea how you compare to the player you are up against and, therefore, are often placed with players who are a lot more experienced; however, this didn’t subtract the enjoyment from the game overall. One thing that I would have liked to be included in online tournament is a better rewards system. Something like, for example, the rewards system in Mario Kart 8 where you could unlock gold Mario for persistence and hard work. Unfortunately, the only thing that suggests this might be a possibility in the future is an icon in the character select screen telling you that this character will be unlocked if you participate in future tournaments. Despite these issues, the online element of Mario Tennis Aces is relatively fun and a good way to pass time after the Adventure mode is over.
Free Play gives you three choices of play style: single console play, local play and online play. Single console play is great for when you have friends over for a gaming session as it gives you the option to play with up to four players in doubles matches or a straight up one versus one exhibition. The game can be played with a single Joy-Con, making it easy to play co-op even if you only have one pair of Joy-Cons. Local play can only be played with two players who both have a Switch console and Mario Tennis Aces cartridges. It works the same as any other local play game and lets you play with different rules, including changing the game mode to Simple, which strips the game back to its bare necessities (this game mode is missing from the online tournament mode). Online play works the same but lets you play either solo or as a team
Now, perhaps the most disappointing element of Mario Tennis Aces is its “Swing Mode”, which lets players use motion controls in a way that many hoped would be similar to Wii Sports. Unfortunately for me and others, Nintendo seem to have over-complicated this mode. Instead of simply swinging back and forward like in the aforementioned Wii Sports, the timing of your swing has to be almost perfect, and the different shots are hard to get the hang of. It definitely isn’t just a pick up and play type of thing, and I can’t see myself spending any time on it whatsoever.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 22nd June 2018
For more information on Mario Tennis Aces, check out the official website.
Also check out our review of a more realistic tennis game, AO International Tennis, HERE