Ever since “Mario Tennis Power Tour,” the series has been rather  disappointing on multiple fronts. The lack of modes, mechanics, and  customization in recent entries pushed me away from playing them  entirely. However, with the promises that Nintendo made for “Mario  Tennis Aces,” there is a lot that the game has to live up to.

A mode for every mood

The first major aspect of the game is the sheer amount of game modes.  These include adventure, tournament, free play, and swing mode. With  the exception of adventure mode, all of these are actually able to have  local multiplayer. While this isn’t a graphically demanding game, it is a  welcome gesture in a world filled with single-player only titles.

Image from Newsweek

Adventure mode is where the actual story of the game takes place. The  story revolves around an ancient tennis racquet controlling its users  to collect five power stones, in order to take over the world. With this  Avengers-esque story, it feels incredibly ridiculous.

The story also progresses in a very linear path, despite the gorgeous  map. Essentially each level does have a purpose, but the reason for the  characters to play tennis seems absurd. For example, a koopa-troopa  won’t let the player cross aboard a ferry unless they best him in a game  of tennis. Overall, adventure mode feels like a simple series of  challenges that are slightly connected to the story.

Similar to the amount of stones, there are five different areas for  the player to explore in the story. These areas each contain a different  court, which are unlocked for other game modes when a player finds a  stone. These courts are all unique, with each differing in the ball  bounce ability and speed of the court.

Image from The Independent

To top it off, the courts all have a varying amount of hazards for  players to utilize. For example, the forest court contains a set of  piranha plants that gobble up tennis balls and will spit them out  anywhere. These are welcoming because it does change up how to approach  an opponent because of how much they can affect each match.

The other major mode that Nintendo heavily promoted was swing mode.  This basically makes players each use a singular joy-con to physically  swing in real life. While this may sound similar to “Wii Sports,” this  version is lacking in several areas.

Primarily, the speed of swing mode is exponentially slow. While the  other modes have several types of swings to change the pace of the  match, swing mode only relies on the time of the swing. Furthermore, the  characters automatically move towards the ball in this mode, making it  really simple. While this could be geared towards younger audiences, it  is disappointing for “Wii Sports” veterans.

Great new game mechanics

Many typical sports games don’t have many vast improvements in  mechanics over the years. However, this is a Mario sports game. The  first major aspect of “Mario Tennis Aces” is the introduction of an  energy gauge. With this gauge comes zone shots, special shots, trick  shots, and a slowdown mechanic.

Image from Destructoid

The most interesting one out of the group is the slowdown mechanic.  Draining the energy gauge, players are able to expertly position  themselves for a ball that might be difficult to hit back. This is a  nice addition to the game because it allows for more concise gameplay.

Zone shots and special shots are both types of shots that allows  characters to slam the ball in exact locations using the gyroscope.  While gyroscope is usually unwelcome in a game, this small addition does  fit rather well. This is because of the short amount of time players  have to use this feature.

Lastly, my favorite type is the trick shot. This is when players can  maneuver their characters across the court in a unique fashion to get to  a ball that might have been out of reach. While this might not seem  like much, this is made unique because each character moves differently.  For example, powerful characters only move a little for trick shots  while speedy characters can cross the entire court.

Despite customization, tennis brings exceptional style

The major lacking point of the entire game is the sense of  customization. This is because there isn’t any. If players didn’t manage  to get Mario’s classic outfit, every character only has one outfit.  This is incredibly disappointing, especially since this gives the  players no incentive to work towards outside of adventure mode.

Image from Allgamers

Also, the settings in the game are oddly complex. In order to choose a  stage, players have to go into the settings, select custom stages, and  adjust a playlist for the game to shuffle the stages. This feels  needlessly complex for something that could have been solved with a  stage select screen.

The only benefit to the settings is that it lets players easily  decide between stages with no hazards and their normal settings. The  settings also let players easily switch between the more traditional  tennis game (no energy gauge) and the modern counterpart. Luckily,  Nintendo does add some flairs towards “Mario Tennis Aces.”

Each character and stage in the game is expertly crafted and  detailed. For example, the grass in the forest court makes a crunch  sound when characters run across it. Another great example is that  players can even see the fabric woven into characters clothes. These  small textures and sounds really give the game unique feel.

This level of detail also goes beyond into the redesigns of several  characters. While Mario and Luigi have new outfits, the main stars of  the show are definitely Wario and Waluigi. In previous games they  starred in, both were seen as pretty gruff. However, in “Mario Tennis  Aces,” both have stylish hair and crisp clothes.

Featured image from Engadget

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