Mario Tennis Aces (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Flynnie 21.06.2018

Review for Mario Tennis Aces on Nintendo Switch

Summer is in full swing and Nintendo and Camelot Software are serving up their next instalment in the Mario Tennis series for all to enjoy, even enlisting some famous faces to help with the advertising campaign. After several disappointments, though, can Mario Tennis Aces bring back the prestige set by its forefathers or does it suffer the same fate as its recent Wii U outing? After an initial preview of the title recently, Cubed3 now serves the final verdict.

The promotional material running up to the release of Mario Tennis Aces has been reminiscent of the Nintendo DS and Wii era where it would be a regular occurrence to get A-list celebrities to promote the Big N's products. Aces returns to this trend by getting worldwide tennis superstar, Rafael Nadal, to feature in the advertising material. To add fuel to the pre-release fire, Nintendo offered a short online demo at the start of June 2018 to whet the appetite for eager fans. The hype train has been well and truly built up for this release, but does it match up to expectations?

Mario Tennis Aces, like its predecessors, features an all-star Mushroom Kingdom cast, although only 16 playable characters are available at release, with further content being dripped fed by free DLC in the months afterwards. The real changes to the Mario Tennis formula come in the way of the new Energy gauge and Zone shots, which offer a new strategic challenge for players. Additional to the standard tennis manoeuvres, the Energy Gauge allows for new moves to be executed, such as a Zone shot that zooms into a first-person view to accurately pin-point a shot on to the opponent's side of the court. To counteract this, the introduction of Zone Speed helps slow down time so that moving around the court can be made much easier, although this does expend the precious energy gauge.

Screenshot for Mario Tennis Aces on Nintendo Switch

Energy can be built up by using charge shots, rallying the ball, or by executing a well-timed Trick shot, which allows characters to make a desperation leap towards a ball to keep it in play. Lastly, Mario Tennis Aces introduces Racket breaks, which occur if a Zone shot is incorrectly defended. Energy is gradually depleted and eventually the racket will break and, once out of rackets, the match will end in a knock-out. This risk-reward element of the mechanics is what helps redefine the masterful strategy of the series as now there are multiple methods to winning a match. If this all sounds too complicated, then these advanced shots can be toggled off for a much simpler affair. For those wanting life even simpler, then it is worthwhile checking out Swing mode, which allows for single Joy-Con play in a Wii Sports-motion control style.

Nintendo and Camelot have spent much time promoting the new single-player 'Adventure mode,' which is the first in the series since Mario Tennis Power Tour on the Game Boy Advance. Unfortunately, this may have been misconstrued, as Adventure mode is nothing like the RPG-driven GBA story mode. Rather, this adventure is an extension of control-based challenges and a thorough introduction to the new gameplay mechanics. Adventure mode features an interwoven, forgettable plot, that follows Mario and Toad travelling across the hub world to collect Power Stones as an evil tennis racket, 'Lucien,' has taken control of Wario, Waluigi and Luigi, and it is down to Mario to rescue them all.

Screenshot for Mario Tennis Aces on Nintendo Switch

Travelling across the hub world introduces Mario to different-themed courts, hazards, and rackets, which are all unlocked by completing simple tasks, such as continuous rallies or hitting targets within an allotted time, none of which are challenging. Boss fights offer an element of thought-provoking puzzles in order to beat them, such as using the new trick shot to jump over incoming obstacles or using a zone shot to deliver a hammering blow to the enemy. Initially, tasks such as hitting Shy Guys with tennis balls or scoring points by hitting targets feels fresh and fun, however, monotony quickly sets in when faced with the same challenge over and over again with only the enemies and landscapes changing. Disappointingly, Adventure falls flat beyond the expectations that Nintendo was hyping up and only lasts four-to-five hours, at best. Fans of Camelot's past work, such as the infamous Golden Sun series, will be disappointed that Aces has not borrowed from itself as a studio with such an RPG pedigree.

Those looking for more content will quickly turn to Tournament mode, which pits any of the 16 playable characters against each other in either one- or two-set matches. Interestingly, each character starts off the tournament with a set number of rackets and progresses to the next stage, carrying over what they have left. This means that, by the final match, some opponents will only have a few rackets left, so aiming for the K.O might be easier than winning the match traditionally. However, like Adventure mode, Tournament is just as brief, offering only three cups, all of which feel identical. Even when a tournament has been won, a screen of the trophy is displayed, but no celebration ceremony, as per previous titles. Little has been injected into this mode to make it worthwhile playing, which results in a rather shallow single-player experience, overall.

Screenshot for Mario Tennis Aces on Nintendo Switch

Away from single-player modes, Mario Tennis Aces excels when played with friends or online. Playing online forces the use of the energy gauge moves to outwit an opponent, which can creates some enthralling rallies. Although the online pre-release tournament encountered a host of lag issues, the full release so far sees none of these problems. Local multiplayer can be set up over various Nintendo Switch consoles, or a combination of Tabletop mode vs. TV mode. Having fierce rallies with human opponents is much more rewarding than facing off against the CPU, although, unlike in previous Mario Tennis titles, customising the matches is either convoluted or not available at all. The number of games and sets cannot be changed, for example, or the selection of courts has to be done in an options screen where it becomes a case of de-selecting the other stages. It is an overly obtuse and confusing user interface that boggles the mind, especially as it should be as simple as looking back to previous games in the series to take inspiration.

In fact, Camelot could look at previous Mario Golf and Mario Tennis entries when it comes to customisation, as the 3DS iteration had a whole host of gear, costumes, and equipment that would give slight gameplay tweaks. Currently, only Mario has an alternate costume and, while others may come in the future, it is a wonder why this or any other mode of customisation hasn't been included in the first place.

Furthermore, there are no additional modes to sink your teeth into, so those hoping to participate in Ring Shot matches or rallying along to the Super Mario Bros. levels, as per past games in the series, will be sorely left empty-handed. Fans will continue to hark back to Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64, and Mario Power Tennis, and wonder why Nintendo has been unable to re-introduce modes and options that were present in the series over 18 years ago.

Screenshot for Mario Tennis Aces on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

From the initial outset, Mario Tennis Aces looks and sounds like it should, with vibrant colours and familiar sounds. Camelot has gone far enough to refine the controls and gameplay to feel ostensibly different from other tennis games. However, the back to basics approach has left behind the legacy, rendering this as a title that has a severe lack of content when compared to the past greats. Online multiplayer will keep it afloat for a short while, but this does little to placate those who were less than thrilled with Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, fans that will now be left ambivalent if the series can really hit the stride that it once did.

Developer

Camelot

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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