Mario Tennis Aces Review
Mario Tennis Aces Review
I have been a fan of Mario Tennis since the Game Boy, it was amazing how intense a game of tennis could be on such a small screen. Mario Tennis Aces is the next generation, in more ways than one. Camelot, the original devs, are back for Aces and trying to improve on series past but come up short on a lot of their new features. The foundation of Mario Tennis is still here and enjoyable but the added features just feel lazy.
Aces succeeds in so many ways. The graphics are top notch, the new character designs are charming and the gameplay is fiercer than ever. The graphics are great, even in handheld mode. You wouldn’t spot a resolution drop if you looked for it. Every character has their determined look, with a roster that seems to have all the mainstays of the Mario universe you could possibly want and then some. My only issue on the aesthetic side of things is lack of costume variation, Mario is the only one with an alternate costume and that just seems like a wasted opportunity.
Gameplay’s quite nice, it’s no wonder, given how fun tennis is. It’s a quick game with a weird scoring structure that leads to crazy standoffs. The controls are fluid if not a little complicated by the new features. You have Zone shots, Trick shots and Power shots that at first seems like a lot, and will take a lot of time to master. That’s what’s so interesting about the systems, they have a high skill ceiling. You can play at any level but people can get quite good with practice and will show you in the Monthly Online Tournament or standard Online Matches will continually remind you of it. It’s varied, but what urks me is the default scoring system online is a tiebreaker system for whoever hits 6 points. I get it, it’s simple and easy but I feel like it is a slap in the face to a tennis game to have to go through the settings to just get the scoring system from Tennis.
Before I go hard on the game’s laziness, I want to talk about Swing Mode. Swing Mode is basically the closest thing the Switch has to Wii Sports Tennis at the moment with motion control. I don’t know about you guys, but Wii Sports used to get real intense in my house. We took it way too seriously and would work up a real sweat. Aces captures this same feeling and is to me the best part of the title, couch co-op is just too fun. But, the entire game is hindered by Adventure Mode. You have to get through this chore to unlock more courts to play in Swing Mode, so it stifles the best part.
Adventure Mode was the main draw for me at first. I thought: finally a fleshed out and cool looking single-player mode. What I got instead was basically four levels and a boss fight, rinse and repeated no less than five times. You’re hopeful at first, but the suspicion sets in as soon as you realize each world is just a recolor, you’ll be sick of it by the end. The highlights are what you’d expect, matches with villains. Every world has two training bouts, one for experience and one for a new racket. With the new breakable racket mechanic, new ones are essential to the story, but they’re kept behind some really laborious minigames, present in every world but harder each time. I was stuck for an hour for a minigame. A minigame. It feels like the mode was never playtested.
Minigames are one thing but halfway through the story, you enter a match with a Blooper. On a ship. With the ship’s mast in the middle of the court. Seems like a fun stage hazard at first but it became my most hated stage in the game. The mast sends the ball flying in some weird direction, even post-patch. The match itself is hard too, so much so that I put the game down for two days. It got to a point where they had to patch in a reset button for each level. Before that, you had to sit through a static cutscene, restart, watch another and then begin the game again. A reset button was a good quality-of-life countermeasure, but the fact that little things like this and the visual novel-esque presentation between story bits cement what was clearly a budget title with a small release window. The only interesting boss fight is the Mirror Queen, who uses two mirrors as dual rackets, which can absorb your shot and fire back at you from either hand, including her main body. It’s simple but fun and feels distinctly Mario. Too bad all the other bosses are so derivative. Plus, matches are timed, and you lose 5 seconds whenever an enemy projectile lands.This leads to repeat fights with nothing to vary things up, and Bowser’s no different.
Mario Tennis Aces suffers from what feels like a rushed production schedule, a lazy adventure mode and tons of wasted opportunities.The basis of the game is solid fun when you get through the padding and misdirection. Grab a bunch of friends and stick to Swing Mode. It’s all you got.
Rating: 5 out of 10
TL;DR review: Mario’s Back on the court for Switch but the adventure mode is simply unfun.
Paid: $46, normally $60 (20% off with Best Buy GGC
Playtime: 15 hours, adventure mode complete at 10 hours.