Editorials Featured Nintendo Switch

Mario Tennis Aces First Impressions

mario tennis aces

Mario Tennis Aces is hitting store shelves soon (June 22), and Nintendo is trying to create some buzz to get Switch owners excited about this year’s first summer blockbuster… okay, maybe I’m over exaggerating a little.

Nonetheless, Nintendo is running a three day, weekend event (6/1-6/3) called ‘Pre-launch Online Tournament Demo Event‘ that highlights Mario Tennis Aces’ online capabilities and gameplay mechanics. Nintendo needs to work on catchier event buzz words.  Before I begin writing about my experience with the tournament event, I want to give you a little backstory on how much I have riding on this Mario Tennis installment.

mario tennis aces

A walk down memory lane

Lets take it back to 2000, when I was only 9 years old and played most of my games on the Game Boy Color. I loved that little thing, and it would travel the world with me. During 2000’s winter break, I purchased Mario Tennis (Game Boy) before my yearly trip to Cuba to see my family. From the moment of takeoff from MIA (Miami’s airport), to the arrival back home one month later, Pokemon Yellow didn’t touch my limited edition yellow Pikachu Game Boy. The RPG mechanics had me hooked. Something about playing an average Joe and taking down Mario and his friends was addicting. Especially with things like character progression, a ranking leaderboard, and the choice to switch between singles and doubles on the fly.

Unfortunately, the only Mario Tennis installment to bring back RPG elements after 2000 was Mario Tennis: Power Tour, which was released in 2004. All the games after Power Tour were just glorified Mario themed tennis games, catered to the casual market.

Personally, it’s been a vicious cycle of boarding the Mario Tennis hype-train, to then crashing and burning with the train once Nintendo releases the game. I’m all-in on this year’s Mario Tennis Aces hype-train. I got a one-way ticket to the promised land.. or a one-way ticket to disappointment land.

mario tennis aces

Mario Tennis Aces makes a good first impression

Tennis is an easy sport to follow. With the exception of certain rules and guidelines, it’s straightforward. Mario Tennis always succeeds in making a straightforward sport into a spectacle with things like flashy trick shots, flaming tennis balls, power shots, special shots, slow motion and even specific character traits. Mario Tennis Aces brings all of that back and more! Fresh additions to the back and forth action make a tired formula new again.

If there’s one feature that stood out for me, it’d be the addition of special shots. The amount of split-second decisions that a player has to make every match is exciting! Should you go for that special shot to earn a point? Or do you hold on to your special meter to activate slow-mo when things get rough? Maybe throw a special shot to make your opponent waste meter with slow-mo, and hit ’em again once their meter is depleted! It’s player choices like these that makes Aces unique, and sets it apart from previous iterations. I’m suffering from the ‘one more match’ syndrome.

Online netcode can make or break a game nowadays. Nintendo probably created this event with the motive of testing Mario Tennis Aces servers, and I’m happy to report that I didn’t have any laggy matches. The sample size was roughly around 15 matches. A couple of those matches had an orange connection (step below green), and were completely lag-free. The demo has two modes. Play online, or practice against the computer. Players need to complete a quick tutorial before jumping into the action.

mario tennis aces

Great mechanics will take Aces far, but it needs content

Mario Tennis Aces features an adventure mode that follows an actual story. Players have to complete missions and take down bosses to progress through the game. This adventure mode might not be exactly what I was hoping for, but it’s a welcomed addition.

Aces includes 17 confirmed playable characters with six archetypes. Mario and friends are tagged with one of the following titles; all-around, powerful, defensive, technical, speedy and tricky. Pick the character that best suits your play style! Aces is game full of decision making. Nintendo has sprinkled hints of potential downloadable characters through in-game emblems, and promotional material, which could bring up the playable list to 26.

mario tennis aces

No content, no problem

The Mario Tennis Aces demo left me craving for more, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. The game’s mechanics are enjoyable, but will there be enough content to keep me engaged for the long haul? I can’t answer that now, but I am certain that Aces will find a way to build a small competitive community. With split-second decision making, and a pseudo-paper, scissor, rock style of gameplay, competitive players are going to appreciate the game’s high skill ceiling.

:: More stories: Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee Announced for Switch

Get ready to strap your Joy-Con with the new tennis racket accessory when Mario Tennis Aces hits the court on June 22 for the Nintendo Switch.