I don’t play sports games (nor fighting games) but when it is Mario and the crew playing sports, I am all over them. Mario Tennis Aces is the newest installment of the franchise and the franchise’s debut on the Nintendo Switch. Is it everything we hoped? Reviews so far say yes, but after we all got our hands on it, does it live up?
Let’s start with the good. The game plays amazingly well. Character control is snappy and it is fairly easy to pick up. The new additions, such as zone shots, specials, and trick shots, all also add a significant depth to the game that basically gives Mario Tennis some elements of some fighting games. Zone shots and specials give the player a strong targeted hit which may break the opponent’s racket if they do not block in time. Trick shots are the most game-changing in my opinion. Trick shots let you cover some distance and guarantees you return the ball if the ball is in the area you would land.
Each character also has a specific style and they all play differently from the next. The styles are All-Around for the more balanced play and recommended for beginners, Technical which focus on ball control and hitting the ball to the far corners of the court, Speedy which can cross the court faster than other characters, Tricky which put a little bit of a curve to their slower hits, Powerful which return shots at insane speeds, and Defensive which have a longer reach than others. Each style plays differently and you would need to play all of them to know which one you are best with.
Now here are the big issues I have with this game. The adventure mode, while it does provide sufficient challenge and properly teaches the new mechanics, it doesn’t really add much to the game. The special courts, courts that have something non-standard like a massive pole in the middle of the net, are all unlocked through adventure mode but that’s it. You only play as Mario in adventure and they have a whole level up and new racket system implemented which has absolutely nothing to do with the other modes. I was hoping the new rackets had some effect like the customizable karts in Mario Kart. Also when playing custom matches, you cannot set the match length or choose the specific court. So you’re stuck on random courts and a 1 Set 3 Game match.
Overall the game is really well done. I applaud them for releasing characters free, you get them early if you participate in the monthly tournament but if you don’t want to play online you can just wait for the tournament to finish. It could use some updates to improve quality of life but it’s a great game overall, a solid 8 out of 10 in my book.