Mario Tennis Aces Review

On paper, Mario Tennis Aces and the Nintendo Switch are a match made in heaven.

A hybrid console that offers games on the go, and a game that features accessible controls and short games? Why wouldn’t this be a perfect pairing? Unfortunately, for everything that is great about Mario Tennis Aces, there is enough that make it feel like an unfinished product.

Featuring a who’s who cast of classic and new characters — Chain Chomp for the win — Mario Tennis Aces features the core gameplay fans have grown to love since the days of Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64. This time around, however, there are a number of major changes to the in-game mechanics that make the game feel like something completely different than what we’ve seen in the past.

The game is still simple to play at the base level as classic shots like lobs, slices and topspins all have their presence felt, but the addition of skill shots add a welcomed new feeling of strategy to the game. These shots allow you to use your character’s energy meter to pause time to aim your shot, slow the ball down, or call upon a character’s special shot that has the power to break an opponent’s racket.

If you thought Luigi was evil in Mario Kart, just wait until you see him on the tennis court.,

Of course, there is a way to counter all of these new skills in the form of blocking that not only returns the ball, but stops your rackets from shattering. Should you not want to risk the destruction of your racket and ultimately disqualification, you could just choose to move aside and cede the points. It all comes back to the new strategies within each match.

The new aspects to the gameplay can take some time to fully get the hang of, but, luckily, Mario Tennis Aces offers a single-player Adventure Mode that acts as a more detailed tutorial for players.

The Adventure Mode sees Luigi get teleported to another dimension leading Mario on an effort to save him by playing tennis and utilizing the various gameplay mechanics in a number of new locations. The mode is ok for those that want to work on getting better at the game, but it really doesn’t offer much more to the skilled Mario Tennis players other than a nice little break from the competitive action.

Coming in at a $60 price point, Mario Tennis Aces gives off somewhat of the same vibes that Super Bomberman R and 1-2-Switch gave off at their releases. It’s a fun game, but it doesn’t do enough to justify the price point.

Using the motion control features of the Joy-Con controllers is touted as its own mode — swing mode — rather than a controller configuration. That alone should tell you all you need to know about the lack of options for players.

Multiplayer is the bread and butter of the game as one would expect. The gameplay is astounding, and I didn’t experience any connection issues online whatsoever. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much depth here either.

You can do standard online matches or play locally with friends, but how many of us will have friends over often enough to justify the latter?

Tournaments allow just one-on-one matches with no reward for winning it all. Online tournaments aren’t even done in a tournament format. Instead, you play matches throughout a given month to earn points and move up a ladder.

Customization is as bare as can be in Aces. You can’t set the number of rackets players have, the length of a match, or the general rules. The biggest exclusion, however, is that you can’t even pick the court you play on if you play against a human opponent.

VERDICT

For the dedicated fan, Mario Tennis Aces is a must have.

It’s the best Mario Tennis title ever released in terms of gameplay as the new mechanics and in-match strategy make it much more than the rock-paper-scissors experience that it had been known for. That’s why it’s even more disappointing to see what isn’t available for players.

It’s a full-priced AAA title that doesn’t offer enough value for the cost. In a gaming era where value is more important than ever, the limitations and omissions are likely to stop many interested players from picking it up until a price drop comes around.

You have to hope that some new features are patched in later on because it’s a shame that a great gameplay experience is buried by what feels like an unfinished product.


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  • Game Modes
  • Gameplay
  • Graphics
  • Longevity

Summary

It’s the best Mario Tennis title ever released in terms of gameplay as the new mechanics and in-match strategy make it much more than the rock-paper-scissors experience that it had been known for. That’s why it’s even more disappointing to see what isn’t available for players.

Overall
3.5

Pros

Motion controls are a great plus
Accessible for everyone
Variety of stages
Added techniques give new life

Cons

Story mode is just a tutorial
No way to play longer matches
Tournament is single-player only