Released at the end of June, Mario Tennis Aces proves a mildly enjoyable time; albeit one without a long shelf life. When the game was first announced in January, I was excited. I hadn’t played a tennis-themed Mario in ages, and I was excited to add another game to my growing Switch collection. With March’s Nintendo Direct focusing on the upcoming game, we were given more details and promised a story mode (which was an intriguing addition to a pretty cut-and-dry esports title).
I have to admit, I was a little bored after playing the demo for a couple of hours, though I still had my preorder locked down. Maybe the story mode will be worth it was the main thought running through my head.
With a roster of characters that would make Mario Kart jealous, some interesting new gameplay mechanics and high-quality Switch graphics, the game was set up for instant success. That success was served to Nintendo’s court, who swung big and missed (tennis puns galore!).
One of the biggest gripes I have is the lack of balance between the character types. In Mario Kart, character stats are balanced and you can find the perfect cart or bike to be truly competitive; balancing done right. In Mario Tennis Aces, facing off against someone who’s ‘technical,’ ‘tricky’ or ‘all-around’ can be completely unfair, regardless of skill level.
The trick shot mechanic seems strategic at first, but really it’s a game of luck with little explanation, leaving many players scratching their heads after attempting to knock out their opponent. The slow motion feature is enjoyable, and I found that fun when trying to beat out players online, but it didn’t make up for the overall disappointment in the new gameplay.
The story mode, which is far too short and far too boring, really should’ve stayed on the sidelines and not been hyped by Nintendo as much as it was pre-launch. It featured some run-of-the-mill battles (tennis matches) with familiar characters and bosses, all in the hopes of finding the Nintendo equivalent of Infinity Stones to restore order on the tennis court.
Aside from all of its missteps, the tournament feature in Mario Tennis Aces keeps the game fresh to some degree, allowing you to face off in quick matches with opponents online. Understanding the play-for-a-bit-and-stow-for-a-bit play style of the Switch’s players, Nintendo allows you to ‘keep your place’ in the tournament after each round, allowing you to play through a couple of brackets and then put the system down; something I found myself doing on my lunch break.
All in all, Mario Tennis Aces provides some mild fun but leaves us with a glimmer of what a real esports title will look like coming from Nintendo. What did you think of Nintendo’s latest title?