Mario Tennis Aces is a curious case. On one hand, I’m extremely grateful that Nintendo hasn’t given up on the Mario takes-on-sports idea that they’ve been doing since the beginning. On the other hand, tennis is not the franchise I was hoping the Big N would revisit first on the Nintendo Switch. That being said, Aces is still an enjoyable game to pick up and play with friends. Don’t expect much staying power if you’re only buying it for the single player, however.
Title: Mario Tennis Aces
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: June 22, 2018
Game Purchased for the Purpose of This Review
For the first time since 2005’s Power Tour, story mode is back. What used to be a large portion of the game, especially on the Game Boy Color, the campaign in Mario Tennis Aces is relegated to helping ease new players and veterans alike back into the world of Mario Tennis. Sadly, it’s over almost as soon as it begins, lasting no more than a few hours as you breeze your way through the stages. The most challenging portion of the adventure will be some of the mini-games you partake in, as they will require skillful shots and perfectly timed swings in order to complete. It would have been nice to be able to revisit these mini-games in a separate mode, but alas, you cannot.
During the story, Mario is able to progress and level up by both winning and losing matches, which is a nice touch. There were slight elements of RPG mechanics found in the previous handheld entries, but nothing satisfying like we were hoping for. When all was said and done in the adventure mode, I was left feeling as if it was very shallow with not much variety being offered.
Once you finish the campaign, all that’s left will be the local and online multiplayer to keep the player base returning to the court. There is a decent sized roster available to choose from right out of the box with all of the usual suspects, but Nintendo is committed to enhancing that roster by one each month. In order to unlock new DLC characters, players must participate in the monthly online tournaments. It doesn’t matter how well you do, as simply entering a match will unlock the character. Win or lose, they will be yours to keep. Nintendo has confirmed that characters obtained through the tournament will be available via other means in-game in the future, but this is just a fast track way to earn additional roster spots while the game is still somewhat fresh.
Another aspect I felt was very underwhelming and lacking in Mario Tennis Aces was the court design and amount offered. It was my hope that additional courts would be unlocked much in the same way that characters are being offered through the online tournaments, but so far, that doesn’t look to be the case. Either way, the courts will start to feel stale and boring after just a few hours of playtime, as there isn’t many options available for rotation. You’ll be stuck competing in the same locales and the same courts throughout a majority of your time spent with the game, which is unfortunate.
Let’s move away from the negative and focus on some of the positive. Mario Tennis Aces introduces new gameplay mechanics and special abilities that are a welcome addition to the franchise, such as the racket breaks. Perfectly timed star shots can break your opponent’s racket, rendering them useless and knocking them out of the match. It presents a level of strategy and trickery not seen before in the genre or franchise. It allows absolutely anyone to come back from a lopsided game and still win if they can KO their opponent.
The graphics and presentation are also top notch, as to be expected from Nintendo. Color and cute while still being impressive, Mario Tennis Aces is pleasing to the eye and ear. Some of the animations when the characters are entering the court and when performing their special shots were gorgeous. I’ve made it a point to watch the character introductions each time before a match because I simply love the way they’re handled and the way they look.
Overall, Mario Tennis Aces is a fun game if you’re picking this up solely to play with friends or to jump into the online multiplayer. If that’s what you’re looking for, this will be a great addition to your Switch library. I highly recommend skipping the title if you just want it for a single player experience, as you won’t be getting the full experience and will feel slightly disappointed. At the end of the day, all this did was truly make me yearn for a new Mario Golf game sometime in the future. Please, Nintendo. Make it happen.
7.0 / 10