Published on July 7th, 2018 | by Lyla Saudi
Mario Tennis Aces Review
Summary: A fantastically arcade styled single and multi-player tennis experience offering fun for those who are fans of the sport or not.
It's-a me, Mario’
After years of saving coins and princesses, our favourite Italian plumber has finally been accepted into the higher echelons of society and welcomed to the prestigious tennis country club in the Nintendo Switch exclusive title Mario Tennis Aces. While his plunger has been replaced with a racquet, and overalls changed for tennis whites, this arcade-styled game retains the graphic styling, cast of characters, and level of madness one would expect from any Mario title.
Tennis games have always provided a level of challenge to gameplay developers; too simple and bouncing a ball back and forth becomes a dull one-player task very quickly, yet increase the complication and it just as quickly becomes a game for nuanced sporting connoisseurs, alienating those of us who ‘just want to bounce a ball back and forth’ between friends. I am pleased to say that the playful arcade vibe in Mario Tennis Aces, complete with power shots, block shots, and magic abilities finds a fantastic balance between the two. A simple surface game that allows friends to immediately challenge one another and feel competent, with a level of complication underneath that allows the dedicated among us to keep engaged and honing our skills.
The graphics of the game pop with bright Mario styled colourings at every turn and the background music ensures the players know they are playing tennis in a Mario themed world. With brightness, fun and happiness this is the quintessential Mario experience. While the game involves some witty one liners back and forth between opponents before and after matches (which did get some genuine smiles out of me), the text box method of communication feels a bit laboured.
The 1 player adventure mode provides a varied series of tennis challenges each with a unique Mario theme. With one-on-one matches, skill tests and boss fights taking place in a variety a zones each with their own unique weather and court settings, the game does a great job in keeping the experience ‘tennis-based’ whilst giving plenty of variety and range to the experience through its 27 levels. While this mode has an RPG element of levelling up it was very disappointing. The XP earned felt pretty random and unimportant to Mario’s skills, and the 6 racquets to be unlocked, each of which play the same as the last, feels like a real missed opportunity (I mean you could have at least let me earn a different colour shirt!). With no higher level of difficulty available in the 1 player mode, no other character options, and an underwhelming ‘Tournament Mode’ this does wear out its welcome and those looking for a challenge will need to head online or invite some friends over.
In the online and multi-player set-ups you can choose from 16 characters (with more coming soon) each with their own strengths and play-styles. You can play with up to three friends locally, and this is where the game proves itself as a must-have title for the Nintendo Switch owner. Quick moving, fast scoring, lively graphics, and gameplay which allows even the biggest novice to join in will quickly make this a fan favourite.
For those after a real challenge you can head online to quickly realise how much depth there is to the game by receiving an immense butt-whooping from experts around the world. To be fair, they do a pretty good job of matching you with similarly skilled players, but be warned, you will find yourself on court opposite Roger ‘Mario’ Federer at one point and wonder if your opponent is playing a different game to you with a different controller. But the online scene has always offered a chance to measure your skill against the world, and this is no different.
Dripping with Mario styled graphic colours, and featuring all of Mario’s favourite friends and foes in typically Mario styled settings, Mario Tennis Aces is an extremely fun arcade tennis experience for both the serious and not so serious among us. Solid tennis mechanics underneath a playful and entertaining surface means that this will quickly become a fan favourite when friends come around. While the simple single-player mode is somewhat varied, the lack of depth will eventually find the game running out of steam. But the frantic tennis fun with friends makes this a must have title for any Nintendo Switch owner.