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June 25, 2018

Mario Tennis Aces - Review

For those that know me, they know I am no sports guy, be it watching sports on the tv or playing them, it is not my thing. In the video game world, I go through phases of sports games, yet somehow the Mario sports games, always seem to draw my attention and with Aces, it was a blessing and a curse.

Unlike the previous game in the series, Ultra Smash, Mario Tennis Aces includes a full single player adventure mode and while the story is a little cheesy at times, it is a solid reason for why everyone is obsessed with Tennis. Wario and Waluigi have discovered an evil tennis racket and it has ensnared them and eventually Luigi, Mario and Toad soon venture out to discover what the racket is and how to solve it. Eventually they are tasked with recovering the power stones, to help seal the racket and restore the captured back to normal, like I said a little cheesy, but still worth a play through. Where the game falls apart in this is that you need to master some pretty serious moves, fairly early on, if you want to proceed, but the game gives you no way of actually practicing.

As you progress through the adventure, you will be tasked with a number of challenges and boss fights, but some of the challenges require you to complete a certain objective, like keeping a rally going or such. The problem is, some of the challenges require you to use skill shots to complete, or have a chance at winning, but the game has no way for you to practice those shots, even if you head into a basic game of tennis, you are playing against another player, be it a person or computer and you can’t practice. The game lets you try out some moves in the tutorial, but it has only a set number of things to do and that’s it, so the lack of a place to actually practice is a letdown, sadly it is not the only one.

The games difficulty ramps up out of nowhere and seemingly at random, causing a lot of frustration because of it, the second world you visit, is themed to a haunted house and that is fine, but there are objectives to complete here that range from simple to frustrating and that does not include the difficulty from the game. One particular challenge, has you attempting to get a rally going and keep it going, to earn 300 points, a substantial target to be sure, but not overly complex, the problem is, once you hit 100, Boo, the computer-controlled character you are playing with, starts using zone shots and what not, powering the ball to the other end of the court. The issue is, after 3 misses, which also includes making Boo miss a ball, it is game over and you have to start again.

The adventure mode is fun, but it swings back and forth between frustrating and fun, more often than Melbourne weather does between sunshine and rain. Thankfully, the basic tennis game is where the real fun lies and that is a solid as ever, be you playing against the computer, a friend or online, it just works. In terms of modes, you can choose from a number of them, basic play, which throws you into a single match, local or online play, which is the same, just with the other person being on another Switch, Swing mode that lets you use motion controls, it works but it’s not my preferred way to play and finally Tournament play, which is a tournament mode. The basic modes are fun, you can elect to play with the power metre off and have just a pure tennis experience, or you can change the options to whatever combination you can think of. One aspect that I wish was simpler, was that you are unable to select a stage from a list, you can only tell the game, what type of stage you want to play on and it will provide a random choice for you.

Tournaments however are a hoot, except only once you get into the Star Cup range, or play online, as the other are just too easy across the board. Once you have complete a tournament as any player, you will be awarded with a trophy, acknowledging your achievements, the problem with them is that they do nothing, they unlock nothing and worse, even if you repeat the tournament as another character, they still do nothing. The Star Cup, thankfully has a more consistent difficulty, so earning that trophy will feel more rewarding, once you can get past the lack of reason to try and earn in. The Online Tournaments just require you to have more patience than anything else, as the more that you play, the more time you may spend waiting for matches. I never had any issues with playing online, outside of my own internet issues, so that is all I can say there.

Where the game shines the most is with its performance, sort of, the load times on the game can be lightning fast at times and other times, take longer than you would like, they are just not balanced and while they do fall towards the shorter time, more often, when they didn’t it just threw things out of whack. Visually the game looks great, the attention to detail on the players is wonderful, the courts also received a lot of attention, the only blemish is the crowds, as you watch them, you will see pretty much all Goomba’s have the same animation, all Koopa Troopers are the same as well, it is not so noticeable in some of the more exotic courses, but when playing in the stadium they stand out. Audio wise, the game sounds like you would expect a tennis game to sound like, though without the constant, huh and hgh sounds that tennis players make when they play. The games soundtrack is nice and upbeat, but thankfully not mind-numbingly so and the game does give you the option to turn it off, whenever you are playing tennis matches, so you can just hear the sounds of the game.

Mario Tennis Aces is a much more improved effort than Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, the single player offering alone makes it so, but that mode’s not going to make everyone happy. The tournament mode is a great diversion offline, but online is where the real fun comes from, even playing either on one Switch or Local, the game shines brighter than it does when played solo.


Review copy provided by Nintendo Australia

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