Mario Tennis Aces Review


Mario Tennis Aces was released June 22, 2018, but I never owned a Nintendo Switch at the time. Fast forward a year and Nintendo is offering its Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) members a chance to play the game with its new game trials initiative. It’s unlikely that I’d purchase the game, unless I found it cheap on the secondary market, so this new game trials initiative makes it easy for me to dive into the action. Time will tell if Nintendo intends on giving NSO members trials of other games, but I’m ready to discuss the joys and cons of Mario Tennis Aces.

Great Tennis Gameplay

Nintendo delivers a great tennis experience with Mario Tennis Aces; it’d be really hard to screw up the gameplay for a tennis game. The basics are all here including traditional tennis scoring methods, shot types, and tennis strategy. This all controls well and feels great; different shots (topspin, slice, flat, lob and drop shots) are mapped to each face button and you control your character with the left analog stick. Then there are more advanced techniques that include charging up your shot to make it more powerful, and doing a really powerful star shot by hitting the ball while standing inside stars that appear on the court. However, seeing as this is a Mario Tennis game, there are also special moves, which showcase some pretty fancy cut-scenes, that the player can rely on to overpower their opponent.



As you play, you’ll build up energy that can be used to unleash special techniques. This energy is built up by utilizing your charge shot, playing well, and doing trick shots. You can use energy to slow down time to catch up to the ball, to unleash a zone shot, or your character’s unique special shot. Zone shots and special shots are incredibly useful and can be directed to any place on the court, however, they can be defended against. Being unable to defend the shot properly will damage your racket, which can eventually break leaving you without a means to play tennis.

All of the above comes together and gives the player a great Mario Tennis experience. Although, there is a lot more to Mario Tennis Aces than just basic tennis gameplay that I need to discuss.

Adventure Mode Makes a Welcomed Return

If I’m not mistaken, an adventure mode has never been a part of a console Mario Tennis game. Fans have been asking Nintendo to bring the mode to new Mario Tennis games, but that hasn’t happened until now. So, is the adventure mode worth playing?

Yes, without a shadow of doubt, the adventure mode delivers a great experience to the player. It’s clear that Nintendo wants you to play the adventure mode as the game throws you right into an opening cut-scene that sets the stage for the main attraction. The story here being that Wario and Waluigi uncover an ancient tennis racket named Lucien that uses its power to hold influence over them. Lucien continues to wreak havoc by taking over others from the Mario universe, and of course, it’s up to Mario to save the day. To do this, Mario must seek out five power stones that are located throughout the world.



Adventure mode has a sizable world map that contains a number of levels that must be completed to continue the adventure. You’ll be taking part in regular tennis matches, special challenges like defeating an army of shy guys on a train, and my personal favourite, boss battles. There are other optional challenges to be completed that reward the player with new tennis rackets. Completing, or even failing challenges, reward the player with experience that is used to level up Mario. Each new level gained will raise one of his three stats: shot speed, run speed, and agility. Gaining levels is important as the game can get quite tough at times, which is the biggest flaw of adventure mode. Luckily, players will still be able to get through thanks to a post-launch update that lets players take on challenges with full/infinite energy meters. You’ll also need to play through adventure mode to unlock some of the game’s wackier courts.

A Mode for Everybody

This game is filled with additional modes, so there is something here for everybody. A solo player might want to play through adventure mode first, then challenge the tournament scene to win cups, or maybe go online to test their skills. There is also Ring Shot for those that want a little extra Nintendo in their tennis game. If you grab a friend, you can enjoy doing some co-op challenges, a match of doubles, a 1v1, or maybe even compete in an online tournament together. In fact, most of the game’s modes can be enjoyed online, which works quite well depending on everybody’s connection. There is also a Swing Mode that lets you use motion controls, but this mode can be skipped as it isn’t really enjoyable.

Long-term Support

Mario Tennis Aces is a game that has received long-term support from Nintendo. Whether it be a major update that adds new modes and features, which includes the full/infinite energy mentioned above, or monthly challenges to unlock new characters. Nintendo is handing out more and more post-launch support these days, and Mario Tennis Aces has certainly benefited from that decision.

Nintendo Polish

The final thing I’d like to praise today is something I (and many others) like to call, Nintendo polish. This is Nintendo’s ability to add those extra little touches that make their games stand above most other developers. Here, you can see a lot of that in the visual design for everything in the game. Yes, you can see that this is a tennis game from screenshots, but Nintendo doesn’t deliver a generic look that a lot of other developers most likely would. I imagine it is difficult to make your tennis game not feel generic, but Nintendo delivers a unique experience. I guess it also helps when you have decades of recognizable character designs, and tennis courts with piranha plants. There are also a variety of visual and sound effects that make playing the game a lot of fun; hitting the ball feels and sounds fantastic.

Conclusion

I have to conclude this review now, otherwise I’ll be writing about it for days to come. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this game, especially when I didn’t enjoy my time with the last two Mario Tennis games (Wii port of Mario Power Tennis and Mario Tennis Open) that I played. The adventure mode took up most of my time with the game, but I was able to spend plenty of time with other modes and found the entire package to be quite enjoyable. Is this the best Mario Tennis game? It might just be.

Final Score: +5

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