America - Front
America - Back
By Dulfite 21st Jul 2018 | 6,017 views
Nintendo’s Mario Tennis Aces is the Mario Tennis series’ return to the court, but with some twists. It features local multiplayer, a story campaign mode, and online tournament modes. Each of these modes has its ups and downs, but they come together to form a fun, though somewhat shallow package.
Mario Tennis Aces has more options in gameplay than its predecessors, with the ability to use energy to slow down time and perform either a timely block or an impressive assault on your opponent. This tends to make it more complicated and, therefore, difficult to master than previous entries, but once you get the hang of things it feels pretty cool to pull off a set of fast paced moves that destroy your opponent.
While it doesn’t have the greatest story in the world, the game's campaign does do an amazing job at training you to master all of the various techniques and shows you how to counter the moves being made against you. Honestly, it's the best tutorial-come-campaign I’ve played in a long time and the simple but light-hearted and surprisingly deep story is great.
In story mode you're attempting to recover powerful objects (via tennis battles of all kinds) across a multitude of levels in order to save everyone from the mystical force that's possessing them into being evil (or, in some character's cases, more evil than normal). You'll face obstacles and boss fights that are all very different from one another, forcing you to master all aspects of the gameplay. The narrative isn’t ground-breaking, but it is better than the norm for Nintendo's Mario games.
There's also a leveling system in the story mode, which allows for improved stats as you progress, making it almost feel like an RPG at points. You can acquire more powerful tennis rackets over time too, and if you're really struggling you can level Mario up in order to improve his stats. Some will consider it a bit of a grind, but I managed to beat the game without having to ground out improved stats. Any level I wasn’t able to beat straight away simply took a bit practice before I could eventually master it.
Overall, this is the type of story mode that I feel Nintendo should strive to incorporate into all of its more light-hearted Mario games; it's short but sweet and is much better than many of the alternatives we've seen in the past. It's also a pretty game, especially when it comes to the cut scenes, though you'll likely notice framerate drops at times.
Multiplayer, meanwhile, is enjoyable because you can either play tennis the traditional way (if you don’t want to deal with all of the Matrix-like moves and complexity) or you can play with all of the new features. Online Tournaments are also a blast thanks to quick and smart matchmaking. The interface displays the connectivity level you have with your opponent and gives you 10 seconds to drop out of the match if you don’t like their internet level or the character they chose to play as. One negative, however, is that the online tournament mode lacks variety, outside of selecting from a couple of game modes, and there's a fairly limited selection of courts to choose from.
As you'd expect, some characters clearly need to either be nerfed or buffed, which is natural for any online game featuring characters with wildly varied skills and different strengths and weaknesses, but the good news is that Nintendo has been updating characters in response to this (Bowser Jr. was recently nerfed, for example).
In the end, Mario Tennis Aces feels like what I’ve wanted from a Mario sports game for years now. It's a rounded package, with an entertaining and helpful story mode, and an accessible and fun suite of online options. It's not a masterpiece by any means but it's a firm step in the right direction for Mario sports games.