Now in it’s second year, the Nintendo Switch continues it’s trend of bringing famed Nintendo franchises or ports of game’s that may not have received the love they deserve on the Wii U. One of those hit franchises is the Mario tennis series and the latest game, Mario Tennis Aces, takes what we loved about Mario Tennis but takes it to a new level with the use of clever new mechanics and a challenging single player adventure mode.
If you’ve played a Mario Tennis game before you’ll be familiar with the core gameplay of Aces. It retains the incredibly fun arcade tennis matches we’ve come to love but it’s introduced a bunch of new mechanics that add a new layer of strategy to each match and will keep you always on your toes and never feeling safe during a match but have been implemented in a clever way that retains the fun Mario charm Nintendo titles carry.
Aces introduces a new special meter that slowly fills during a match whenever you successfully return a hit, filling up at a faster rate when you perform charged returns. The special meter can be spent during the match to perform one of the new Specials, assisting you in getting that upper hand on your opponent.
Once the meter is 1/3 filled you’re able to perform a Zone Shot. Performed by standing on a star that appears on the court and pressing R will activate a slowed down first person view that allows you to aim a shot with on-screen cross hairs that will blast the ball at the targeted spot, hopefully securing you the point or damaging your opponents racket if they do attempt to stop the ball.
If you manage to completely fill the special meter you can spend the lot to unleash your character’s Ultimate Shot. A unique move that comes with it’s own character cutscene that blasts the ball back to the opponent’s side of the court that normally results in you getting a point either by not being stopped or by disintegrating the opponent’s racket.
Both you and your opponent have a number of rackets that can be used in a single match. These are essentially your lives. If all of your’s or your opponents rackets break during the match it’s game over. Adding in another layer to this already fun game and another potential strategy to take down your foe. But also offers a risk/reward factor for you if you’re low on rackets and don’t trust yourself to return the ball perfectly.
But the new features don’t stop there. Aces has now implemented a dodge mechanic known as Trick Shot that allows your character to quickly lap across the court and reach a shot you wouldn’t be able to reach in real time. If timed correctly. And timing is crucial for Trick Shots, there were more than a handful of times I looked like a complete fool when I tried and failed to perform one correctly.
Holding R during a rally will also slow down time but spend your special meter, giving you a bit more time to get to that hard to reach ball.
Aces features a single player ‘Adventure Mode’ that tells a very interesting albeit short story and has you playing as the titular plumber Mario travelling around the map completing various stages, taking on bosses in some really varied and fun environments that each change up the way that match will be played such as including certain obstacles on or around the court.
I would have loved if the single player mode included more or provided reasons to replay it, such as unlocking new characters or deeper customisation options but it does a great job teach you the game’s many new mechanics and brings you up to speed with what you’ll need to play online or in tournaments. But beware it can get really difficult in the later half of its 27 stages.
Where I can see Mario Tennis Aces gaining most of it’s value and replayability is in it’ multiplayer mode. Here you can play as any of the current 16 playable characters and compete in online matches with others from around the world in either a single or doubles format, with a large amount of customisable match conditions such as amount of rackets and selectable courts among others.
Multiplayer games are also available to be played with friends locally in a split screen mode as well.
Nintendo’s strength not just with Mario Tennis Aces but will most of their first party titles is their ability to make the game fun to all types of players. If you just want a casual but really fun arcade tennis experience, you’ll find it here. If you prefer the gameplay to have more depth and difficulty it has gameplay modes that will cater to you as well. And best of all, no matter how you prefer to enjoy the game it is fun and feel’s great to play above all else.
Mario Tennis Aces is another great arcade tennis game in the Mario Tennis franchise. It’s an absolute joy to play and it’s gameplay feels fun, rewarding and has a good balance of accessible fun and challenging difficulty, for the most part. While I would have loved a longer single player campaign and more to do after I had finished it, it’s multiplayer mode will offer near endless enjoyment for those that enjoy playing online whether that be casually or competitively. Fingers crossed we get some new characters, courts and rackets to unlock down the line.