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Mario Tennis Aces

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 6 - 2018

Anyone for tennis?

Mario really must be the most hard working character in video games. He has his own full time job as a plumber and spends a substantial amount of time rescuing princesses. Then you have what are presumably all of his hobbies, such as kart racing and, most recently, tennis. The thing is, he always seems quite competent at these past times, as if he has been honing his skills for many years. Now, in this latest sports tie-in for the plumber, Mario and a bunch of other buddies from the Mushroom Kingdom will not only be able to spend some breezy summers afternoons playing tennis, but they will also have to fight it out in a particularly testing story mode, with some kind of evil tennis racquet. Life in the Mushroom Kingdom is never dull.

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Tennis games have always had a fairly straight forward core. Players take their favourite player from whoever is available and run around the court, trying to hit a tennis ball back across the net in the hope that the opponent cannot. It’s fairly simple really, and in Mario Tennis Aces on the Switch this simplicity is certainly an option. Much like the joy of playing Mario Kart against friends either locally or online, Mario Tennis Aces offers similar options, even down to playing the tennis game at its most simple.

Playing the game in its simple format will give the player a choice of character, all from the Mario games to keep it interesting, and then it will just be a matter of returning the ball. Yeah, things get more complex than that, with a choice of different techniques such as lobs and slices, and players can put more power into the shot by getting into position and holding the button for longer. But realistically, this is tennis at its most basic, and is certainly not something that a Mario themed tennis game would be interested in offering.

Oh no. This is Mario and co., and the developers need to spice up the action with a whole bunch of over the top mechanics. Each of the characters will have their own special shot, which are great but no where near as devastating as the zone shot. This allows the player to unleash a shot that can be aimed with pinpoint accuracy, and can only be returned with a perfectly timed block, or by the receiving player activating another special ability that slows down time. Both of these abilities are dictated by a power gauge, which thankfully limits their use. The interesting thing is that if the player fails to block with perfect timing, which is incredibly hard, the zone shot can break their racquet. The player only has a limited number of racquets and once they are all gone, that’s the end of the match.

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Then there are the trick shots, which are frankly trickier than their worth, and all manner of court-based obstacles that the player can throw into a match. But with tournaments and the like, playing with others comes with so many options that the players can tailor their game to exactly how they like. There is even a swing mode which uses motion control for the swinging of the racquets, but the motion controls simply don’t have the depth of use to make this anything more than a novelty. Still, with all of these options, the multiplayer game can be just as involving and entertaining as any competitive game out there.

For the solo player though, Mario Tennis Aces has dropped in a story mode of sorts, but it is not the RPG style experience that many players were hoping for. With a somewhat odd story, even by Mario standards, players will move around a familiar style Mario map and drop into encounters that generally take the form of short tennis matches or more specific challenges that involve hitting a ball. There is some fun to be had here, and the story does a good job of slowly introducing the new mechanics much like an extended tutorial. However, it quickly becomes quite difficult and therefore frustrating, and a lot of the challenges and matches just drag on. Players can level up and improve Mario’s skills with a bit of grinding, but it just feels like busywork to further extend the story mode, and does nothing if the player simply struggles with a particular required shot.

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Mario Tennis Aces is an option-packed, hugely entertaining multiplayer game that can be as fun or as serious as the player wants. For the single player though, the options are much more limited with only a frustrating story mode and a couple of tournaments. But this is tennis, best played with others. Mario Kart is not as fun alone, and so Mario Tennis Aces is the same. With others though, Mario Tennis Aces is another great Switch game.




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