Mario Tennis Aces: An Adventure for the Ages

Welcome to the Newest Mario Tennis 

Mario and friends bounced onto the Switch tennis pitch on June 21, 2018. The game captures many of the features that we’ve loved since the original Mario Tennis launched on the N64 back at the turn of the century:

  • Characters with their own unique play style
  • Array of shot types for dynamic rallies
  • Court surfaces that affect the speed and bounce of the ball
  • Multiple game modes

In Mario Tennis Aces, the franchise adds a slew of gameplay mechanics that make for an incredible tennis experience:

  • Energy bar
  • Charge shots
  • Trick shots
  • Racket breaks
  • Matrix-style time manipulation
  • New characters with changeable outfits

Interestingly, Mario Tennis Aces also adds a story mode to the mix, a first for the series. I went into it expecting a bunch of standard matches against the typical opponents, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the campaign!

This is my ode to the Mario Tennis Aces adventure mode, a challenging combination of skills tests and boss battles that you can complete on a Saturday afternoon.

When you are done, check out Flash’s piece on Dr. Mario World, available in the App Store and on Google Play! 

Setting the Stage

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the campaign, I need to touch on the many nuanced details that Mario Tennis Aces gets right!

Taking a page out of ESPN’s book, we’re graced with two members of the Toad family as sportscasters. Are they twins? Did they carpool to the arena? Do they shop at the same store?

No one really knows, but this dynamic duo is fantastic at building hype around the upcoming match.

Next, the game music is both exciting and dramatic. It matches the bright colors of the game and has a majestic feel when moving through the map.

You’ll also notice some darker themes as you face each evil villain. The player learns of a legendary racket hidden which soon consumes Luigi, foreshadowing a challenging quest for our mustached hero. 

The primary enemy is a purple tornado-looking fiend. It ruins everything and is literally the worst, destroying the once-great Marina Stadium.

Now, it’s up to Mario to reverse the mind-control powers of the racket and save the day!

Although it sounds a little farfetched to have an evil racket controller by an evil tornado, the plotline is straightforward and immediately makes you excited to find the Temple of Bask. 

The map itself makes me think of something out of Mario Party mixed with Super Mario World. Each point of interest has its own unique court design to match the environment. 

Lastly, the game has two components of progression throughout the story mode. You have your typical experienced-based leveling, where you’ll get status increases to shot speed, run speed, and agility. Additionally, you collect more powerful rackets on your journey as you beat new levels.

Given this game mechanic, there are step-changes in attack, defense, and durability throughout the campaign. This results in a nice mix of gradual player progression and equipment-based performance.

The latter is especially important because of the game’s inclusion of racket-break. This puts you in scenarios where you may become much weaker near the end of a match if your racket gets downgraded. 

These features of Mario Tennis Aces create a great foundation for an addicting campaign mode!


Trials and Tribulations

After a quick tutorial game, you’re introduced to the first of many adventure trials. For the most part, these mini-tests have you returning a ball at ever-changing targets.

The trials are a great way to break up the adventure so you don’t just move through matches against increasingly difficult opponents. Instead, you get to hone your skills and refine your shot placement in a low-pressure environment.

Or, at least, mostly low-pressure.

As expected, I found the early trials to be a breeze. I knew they would get harder over the course of the campaign, but was surprised at just how difficult some of the mid-game tests were!

Specifically, the game hits you with some challenges that rely heavily on your ability to build up charge, then land a series of zone shots. Miss a few balls and you won’t have enough time to build sufficient charge.

It can also be tough to achieve a high level of precision required to hit smaller targets (I’m looking at you, shy guys!). This left me in multiple instances where I watched the expiring clock tick down as I repeatedly missed the last target.

All in all, the trials did feel incredibly rewarding when I actually completed a tough one. It may not have been on the level of defeating an enemy in Bloodborne, but there was definitely a sense of accomplishment!


Opponents can be Tough!

Not only does each opponent have a unique playstyle and/or abilities, but their respective courts also add complexity to the match.

Boo has floating mirrors that teleport the ball to different locations. Shy Guy’s court has a stampede of characters running through. Others have physical barriers at the net, like the mast of a ship, which can get in the way of your volleys.

Each court is thoughtful in the design and requires some planning to make the most of the situation.

Boss abilities force you to pay attention to the environment just as much as you do to the tennis ball.

Petey Piranha throws walls of tornadoes your way. Snow Ogre can smash Mario with one of its ice hands. Gooper Blooper launches tentacles across the map, temporarily stunning your character.

I really like how the game incorporates the expected Mario boss experience while still making matches feel like a version of tennis. The game is fair in equipping you to handle each stage but any given opponent may take a couple of playthroughs before figuring out the correct plan of attack.

The Endgame Makes You Work for It

You fight a statue of Bowser about three-quarters of the way through the game, but he is, of course, also the final boss in Mario Tennis Aces.

The last match is truly a measure of everything you’ve learned through the six map locations. You’ll understand why some of the trials were intentionally difficult and be thankful for the hours that you spent returning tennis balls.

Boss Bowser, affectionately named ‘Bowcien’ after taking hold of the legendary Lucien racket, is a beast of a tennis player. He’s always been a strong character, but he now gains a shield, increased hand-eye coordination and a dastardly laugh to mirror his evil look.

The power shots come early and often in this match, so don’t be surprised if you go through at least one broken racket. Incorrectly timing your blocks will rack up serious damage and waste precious seconds off the clock.

Thankfully, you can build charge fairly easily by trick shot jumping over Bowcien’s menacing rings of fire!

Even though I thought I was good at this game, I still got handled several times before actually winning against endgame Bowser. My advice to you: take a deep breath after each loss and brace yourself for at least a little bit of failure!

#MarioTennis #MarioTennisAces #NintendoSwitch

— Two Average Gamers (@2avggamers) March 2, 2020

Mario Tennis Aces is a Match for the Ages

Mario Tennis Aces takes the standard tennis formula and turns it on its head, with key elements that make for an enjoyable story mode.

Part of the charm in this game lies in the creativity of the characters. The opponents keep you on your toes with their versatile abilities and Mario’s support cast is endearing.

Aces is challenging enough where you are unlikely to beat each court on your first try, but approachable enough that you can beat the campaign in one day. Given its awesomeness, that’s exactly what you might wanna do!

I didn’t touch on the multiplayer that much, but it’s also a hoot. Get 1-3 friends together for some couch co-op mayhem that everyone will appreciate.

If you want to see the story mode in all of its glory, check out MarioZenium’s full playthrough below!

Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn’t stop here… There’s more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games. Visit the Center of the Multiverse to see more:

smm_logo_FINAL_transparent - super mario multiverse - Two Average Gamers

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