Mario Tennis Aces full review
Mario Tennis games have been around since 1995, so it’s about time that the Switch got a new edition and it’s the first in-house sports game for Nintendo’s popular console. Here’s our Mario Tennis Aces review.
Although it’s been around for a long time, that first edition probably isn’t the one people (who are old enough) remember. Mario’s Tennis launched on the Virtual Boy but it was Mario Tennis on the N64 and Game Boy in 2000 that was a hit.
Mario Tennis Aces is only the seventh game in the series and after the last couple, Mario Tennis Open (3DS) and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U), we’re hoping things pick up a bit. Check out the best Nintendo Switch games.
Mario Tennis Aces: The Story
It seems a bit odd for a tennis game to have a story mode, but it provides something to focus on if you’re not playing with mates or online. It’s the first one since Power Tour in 2005 on the Game Boy Advance.
Adventure mode in Mario Tennis Aces features a series of levels spread across a map. You walk around like Super Mario games of old but the path is pretty linear.
It’s somewhat tenuous but you need to travel around the Kingdom of Bask to collect power stones and defeat a legendary racket called Lucien that is controlling Wario and Waluigi and has Luigi hostage.
It’s all a bit nuts and surprise surprise, you’ll have to play tennis in each level although it’s not as simple and boring as playing match after match.
The adventure mode includes bosses, practice courts that are essentially mini games and other unexpectedly creative levels. In Mirage Mansion you need to play against a huge mirror while solving the puzzle.
Other than being a bit of fun, the adventure mode is a great way to learn the game and put you in a good position to beat real-life players.
Mario Tennis Aces: Shots and Rackets
It’s its most basic form, the gameplay of Mario Tennis Aces is pretty simple. You can select three different shots – top spin, flat and slice – and use the left joystick for direction. Running to the right spot early and holding down the button will charge up a shot to make it more powerful.
Those shots are colour coded so you know what type of shot is coming your way. What’s not made clear is that they interact with each other a bit like rock, paper, scissors.
Flat will counter flat, while slice and top spin should be used against each other.
Beyond this, the gameplay does get pretty complicated and we don’t just mean with shots like lobs and drop shots.
First up is a Star Shot which is a powerful shot if you can charge up while standing on a star that appears on the court. A Zone Shot is achieved by tapping R while on a star and gives you the ability to pinpoint where your shot goes on the court. You can also use it on a server, which isn’t explained.
You’ll need energy to do a lot of these advanced shots and the bar will increase during a normal rally. However, you can fill it up quicker with Max Charge Shots – holding down the button long before striking the ball – or the next type of shot.
A Trick Shot can be used with the right joystick and allows you to jump quickly across the court to reach a shot that would have otherwise gone past you. It just requires a bit of timing.
The Special Shot is the pinnacle and you’ll need a full energy bar to use it and each character has a different one – at least in the animation.
Although it uses your entire energy bar, the Special Shot can break an opponents racket. If you’re facing a Special Shot, you’ll need to block it at the right time otherwise you’re racket takes damage – and you lose if it breaks completely.
You can get different rackets with more advanced ones being stronger. Rackets have levels for attack, defence and durability.
To help you block at the right time, Zone Speed is effectively bullet time so you can face the shot in slow motion.
With this many elements, it can take a while to get your head round them all and remember when to use each. We also found the momentum favours the player on the front foot too heavily, but the racket mechanic means you can still win even if you're badly behind on points.
If all this gets a bit much – we’ve found it difficult to remember all the different shots - or means you have an unfair advantage over friends who don’t know the mechanics you can switch on simple rules which limits you to basic shots.
Mario Tennis Aces: Modes
As well as Adventure mode, you can also use motion controls instead just like Tennis from Wii Sports by switching on Swing mode. It also has it’s own modes including Big Ball and Rally Challenge.
In Swing Mode your character will move across the court automatically and you do shots with motion so a slice involves swinging from your shoulder downwards.
Free Play lets you choose any character and set the rules for a match. By default, quick play means you score like a tiebreak so it’s first to seven.
Both of the above allow 1-4 players, although you’ll need at least four Joy-Cons to play with four locally.
Tournament mode is only for one player, although we don’t understand why two people can’t play doubles. There are three cups to compete for with increasing difficulty – Mushroom, Flower and Star.
It works pretty much like you’d expect a tournament to, although you have six rackets to go through so you don’t go out if one breaks.
Mario Tennis Aces: Characters and Courts
There are 16 characters to choose from including Bowser, Boo, Spike and Chain Chomp (with more on the way, according to the official website) and like other Nintendo games it makes a difference who you pick.
As per usual it works roughly on size so Mario is a good all-rounder, Yoshi is fast and characters like Donkey Kong are slower to move across the court but can unleash more power.
You can level up as you play the game with your character getting a small boost each time you do, either in shot speed, run speed or agility.
There are also a range of different courts you can play on and it’s not just the scenery that changes.
For example, Savage Sea has a mast in the middle of the net you can bounce the ball off, Piranha Plant Forest has three Piranha Plants in the way and Mirage Mansion has mirrors that act like portals.
It means the game gets a bit more jazzy, but if you want to play a straight forward game of Tennis then you can still pick a basic court.
Mario Tennis Aces: Specs
- Nintendo Switch
- 1-4 players