Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U) Review

By Renan Fontes 06.12.2015 3

Review for Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U

Mario is one of, if not, the most iconic video game characters of all time. It makes sense; the man has saved countless kingdoms, worked numerous jobs, and proven himself quite the athlete. He's a bonafide superstar. Even the brightest stars are capable of dimming, however, and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is proof that this will happen unless Nintendo gets its act together.

More appropriate than not, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash starts off with little fanfare. Other Mario Tennis games typically begin with an intro video; it's never anything too exciting, but it's always been charming to watch. A showcase of the characters playing tennis and interacting with one another, especially in a sports game with no room for story, is a great way to establish a world where Mario and friends are actually playing tennis together. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash instead chooses to replace the intro video with a quick demonstration on how to hold the GamePad and other Wii brand controllers. It's an incredibly small detail, but it sets the theme for the rest of the game: removal.

Compared to other entries in the series, Ultra Smash has the least amount of modes and the least amount of characters. In theory, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's entirely possible that the smaller roster of modes and characters were deliberate choices. By scaling things down, Camelot and Nintendo could focus on creating a tighter experience all around. Unfortunately, that is nowhere near the case. The lack of content is simply that: lack of content. For what it's worth, it is a fantastic looking game, so maybe having very little to work on allowed the team to pretty things up, but either way, a beautiful garbage dump is still a garbage dump.

It's honestly downright offensive how little content Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash offers. There is Mega Battle mode, which is just a versus mode, but occasionally a Mega Mushroom will be thrown onto the court to disrupt gameplay and initiate a quick cut-scene that enlarges the character who grabs it first, giving them a considerate advantage. There's a regular versus mode, which is just Mega Battle without the Mega Mushroom. There's a practice mode that doesn't even really feel like practice. Finally, there's the closest thing Ultra Smash has to a campaign: Knockback Challenge. This mode has the player facing AI opponents on a ladder system, with each one getting stronger than the one before. It exists to sell amiibo. It's meant and designed to be played with an amiibo that will level up and gradually become more competent. It's a nice idea, but when the game offers absolutely nothing similar for those amiiboless, it feels more than a bit dirty on Nintendo's part.

Screenshot for Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U

Then there's the online mode, the natural appeal of any sports title. A good online experience can salvage a barebones single-player. Unfortunately, Ultra Smash does not have a good online feature. It has a dead online mode - one that takes upwards of ten minutes to find a match, one where finding a match is more miraculous than purchasing a modern Nintendo sports game with an acceptable amount of content. It's a genuine disappointment.

On the subject of disappointments, the gameplay is an absolute disaster. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash attempts to add some semblance of strategy by having different buttons do different swings, and having prompts appear on the court from time to time for faster or stronger strokes, but the A button suffices just fine for everything. There's no need to use any other stroke because the standard A swing can handle just about anything without issue.

The playable characters are separated into six different types; All-Round, Technical, Speed, Power, Defensive, and Tricky. These types mean absolutely nothing. For all intents and purposes, every character plays exactly the same, except some feel heavier or lighter than others.

To top everything off, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash features a rewards section in the main menu. Rewards range from new characters (that all play the same) and new courts (that really don't add much but annoying gimmicks). These rewards can be earned by actually playing the game and completing challenges, or by simply purchasing them with the coins earned after every match. It's as if Camelot and Nintendo knew they were releasing an unfinished game and wanted people to play as little of it as possible to figure that out.

Screenshot for Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash should, quite frankly, not exist. It is an embarrassment with next to no content, absolutely no strategy involved, and feels like a blatant cash grab more than anything. Nintendo has gotten far too safe with the Mario IP if the developers felt that they could release a skeleton like this for $50. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is nothing more than a platform for selling amiibo and should not be purchased by any means.

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash can be bought from Play-Asia.com today in disc format, or digital eShop codes can easily be purchased for any region.

Image for

Developer

Camelot

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

Extremely disappointing. Obviously a cash-grab for the holiday season.

Gutted. The GB Mario Tennis titles were an absolute joy. Many winter nights spent playing that RPG mode, so so good. Nintendo/CT need to really build that into the Mario Tennis and sporting titles - there's so much you can really do to improve these sorts of games really. 

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I didn't like the demo at EGX... It was 'use special ability' repeatedly and there didn't seem to be any warning for when the ability wore off. Matches were just so random.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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