Review: Mario plays tennis in Mario Tennis Aces

 

One takes the Nintendo Switch, you pick up Nintendo's most popular character and you pick up a sport. Voila, you have Mario Tennis Aces.

We packed our tennis clothes, the joy con as a racket and joined Mario and his friends for a nice game of tennis. But as soon as we started the game, we were immediately thrown into the middle of a Mario Tennis Aces story.

Story Mode

Mario Tennis Aces has a story mode. We start the story with a tennis tournament in which Mario and Peach compete against Bowser and Bowser Jr. The match is of course won by Mario and Peach. Wario and Waluigi have a small present for Mario and Peach for winning the tournament. The super strong and legendary racket from the Temple of Bask. But before Mario and Peach can receive it, Luigi grabs the racket. This unleashes an evil force that takes possession of Luigi, Wario and Waluigi. They turn into possessed chrome versions of themselves. It's up to Mario to stop this unknown evil force.

And what better way to stop this evil force than with a game of tennis. Fortunately, the legendary racket from the Temple of Bask is not at full strength. To achieve this, five power stones must be added to the racket. Does this plot sound familiar? For those who have watched the Avengers movie series, this is very familiar. Mario and Toad head out together to make sure the racket doesn't reach its full strength. Together they explore the tennis island they are on in search of the five power stones.
During your search for the power stones, you will encounter a number of tennis challenges. These range from matches against familiar characters from the Mario universe to skill shot related challenges. After each successful match or challenge you gain XP. When you have accumulated enough XP, you level up. With each level you level up, Mario gets better stats. Unfortunately, you cannot determine these stats yourself and the game determines on which stat Mario grows. The challenges are well thought out and sometimes a bit on the spicy side. But not only the challenges are on the tough side. The game does not have a certain difficulty level. But the way the level is raised is disastrous. For example, the first area is quite easy to go through, but two areas later you are suddenly struggling against Blooper.

Gameplay

The game tells you at the beginning that if you can't handle your level, you have to go to the previous challenges to improve yourself. This in itself is not so bad. But the further you get, the more you have to grind to make Mario strong enough to beat the opponents. Because you have to grind for it, the game no longer feels like a family-friendly game. Besides the fact that you are almost forced to grind and play challenges over and over, we come across another irritation point.
If you don't pass a challenge or game, you have to start the entire challenge again. There is no reset or direct restart function in the game. This is very frustrating because every time you fail you have to click through all the text. Fortunately, there is a skip option for the challenge. But if Nintendo had just given a restart function in the pause menu, a lot of irritation would have been saved. These annoyance points are a real shame, because the game itself is quite entertaining, at least when you play with a controller or in handheld mode.

Mario Tennis Aces can be played in three ways. You can of course play it in handheld mode or with a controller. But you can also play the game in a dynamic way. Just like with the Wii and Wii U, you can play separately with the joy cons. With various swinging movements of your arm you can hit the ball back to your opponent. However, this way of playing is badly made. The Switch regularly registers the strokes you do not properly. Because of this, sometimes a smash becomes a lob and a lob becomes a sting ball. In addition, you often hit earlier in the game while your arm is still next to your body.

Verdict

Mario Tennis Aces is a fun and entertaining game. If you like a game of tennis, then the diversity of matches and challenges is fine. The game also looks great. We see the graphic quality of Nintendo well reflected in this game. As long as you play the game with a controller or in handheld mode. Once you switch to dynamic mode, you get a ton of frustrations for free. The grind and the occasionally disastrous difficulty levels should have stayed away from me. These really detract from what could have been a fun family friendly game. Nevertheless, you will see me play a nice game of tennis with Mario Tennis Aces every now and then.

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