When it comes to sport video games, it’s not usually my kind of thing – unless it involves everyones favourite plumber Mario of course. While Mario has featured in tons of different sporting games from golf to skiing, it was Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 that I enjoyed the most. Over the years however, the Mario Tennis series has struggled to find it’s beat especially with the last entry in the series, 2015’s Ultra Smash on Wii U. Now the portly plumber is hoping to break this streak of bad games to the Switch with ‘Mario Tennis Aces’. And thankfully 18 years after the reveal, Nintendo have done just that.
So what exactly makes Mario Tennis Aces a hit? It all comes down to the gameplay. In previous entries, the moves at your disposal were incredibly limited which ultimately made matches not a lot of fun. In Mario Tennis Aces, you have a wheelhouse of moves at your disposal. From drop shots to ultra smashes, Mario Tennis Aces gives you enough variety in ways to hit the ball that it completely transforms the game from a simple sport into a full on strategy.
See, it’s not just about hitting the ball until either you or your opponent misses – you’ve got to play it smart to win. You need to adjust how you play to suit your opponent. If your opponent is playing aggressively with power shots close to the net, you can use lob shots that go over the opponent and therefore forcing them out of attack. You also have an energy gauge that can be used to slow down time (very handy) as well as special shots. All of this opens up the game in such a way that it’s just as much about your nerve as it is about how you play.
At the moment, Mario Tennis Aces has 16 playable characters with 3 more to come over the coming months. All the usual characters are here such as Mario, Peach, Yoshi and Bowser plus many supporting characters such as Boo, Rosalina and Toadette. Each character has their own play style so choose who works best for you. Characters like Mario and Luigi are all rounders so are safe bets for most while characters like Rosalina are tricky meaning their shots curve and are harder to anticipate. Personally, I like playing as Peach as she’s technical. This means she has a good speed that doesn’t compromise her shot ability. She can struggle with incoming power shots since she is a lighter character but it’s all about adjusting how you play to your opponent in order to win.
For a game like Mario Tennis Aces, it’s all about playing with you friends or online. Since you can use a single joy con as a controller, it’s super easy to pick up and play with a friend – and using motion controls too. It’s Wii Tennis all over again! For me, it’s all about the online play and that is unfortunately where Mario Tennis Aces falters a bit. When you are paired with someone, the connection is tested to make sure it is stable.
But sometimes, the connection can become so bad during a match that it’s unplayable. It happened a lot during the demo and while it is vastly improved since then, it’s still an issue. I have lost some matches because the connection is so bad that I am unable to anticipate my opponent and miss the shot. It’s frustrating but connection problems are something that plagues a lot of online games on Switch. There is also a single player mode but it plays very much like a tutorial – at least what I have played of it. It feels unnecessary for a game like this.
Overall, Mario Tennis Aces is an incredibly addictive game. The online play may have some issues but it’s not enough to stop the game from being fun for me. The fact that it’s more about strategy gives Mario Tennis Aces a unique selling point compared to other games in it’s genre. It’s a lot of fun and even when you lose, you’ll find yourself saying ‘just one more go’.
Mario Tennis Aces is available now for Nintendo Switch.
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