Mario Tennis Aces
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Mario Tennis Aces is a sports game in the Mario Tennis series for Nintendo Switch, initially released on June 22, 2018. It is the eighth installment in the series and is the first Mario Tennis series game since Mario Tennis: Power Tour on the Game Boy Advance to feature a Story Mode.
The base gameplay appears similar to that of Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, featuring different types of shots. Characters have an energy gauge that can be used to perform Zone Shots, Zone Speed, or Special Shots. The energy gauge can be increased by simple rallies or by performing Trick Shots, which require proper timing to hit the ball back. Zone Shots can be performed upon reaching a rotating star point on the ground, and allow the player to aim their shot anywhere on the court using motion controls. The longer they take to aim, the more energy it depletes. Zone Speed allows the player to slow down time to allow them to reach a far-off shot in time. Special Shots are performed like Zone Shots, but require a full energy gauge. Zone Shots and Special Shots are able to damage rackets. Rackets can withstand three Zone Shots or one Special Shot before breaking, and after being broken they are replaced with a new one, forcing the player to retire when they no longer have any usable racket. With proper stroke timing, these shots can be blocked, increasing the character's energy gauge and protecting their racket from damage. In doubles, each pair shares one energy gauge, and if a player's racket breaks during a rally, that player's team immediately loses the point. Also in doubles, each player has their own racket counter. When playing in doubles, the match will end if just one player loses all of their rackets (no matter how many rackets that player's teammate has remaining) and that player's team immediately loses. Exclusive to doubles, the result screen also shows X marks in the sections where a player's racket took damage, and the X marks are colored as appropriate to show which opponent did the damage to that player's racket. Unlike Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, there is a left-handed option for characters.
Other than the base style of gameplay, the game also includes a "simple rules" mode which excludes the new types of shots, as well as "Swing Mode", which allows the player to use motion controls to swing their racket, similarly to Wii Sports. Unlike Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, the game features a traditional Tournament mode where the player can challenge computer opponents in an 8-player bracket. In the COM tournament, the player can play the Mushroom, Flower and Star Cups, each with its own difficulty. The character used for winning one of these cups receives a crown graphic next to their name on the character select screen. Online multiplayer is also supported for up to four players (friends or other players) as well as for online tournaments. Playing at least one match in an online tournament can receive additional characters as participation bonuses. However, unlike in the COM tournament, the character that wins the online tournament is not given a crown.
Exclusively in Swing Mode, players can challenge a decision that the ball was shot out of the court.
The controls for Zone Shots, Zone Speed, Cancel Charge and Trick Shots can be changed in the settings (only for Dual Joy-Con and Pro Controller).
After Mario and Peach beat Bowser and Bowser Jr. in a tennis match and take the championship, Wario and Waluigi arrive with a legendary racket called Lucien, offering it to Mario and co. as a present. After Luigi takes Lucien, Lucien possesses both him, Wario and Waluigi, and causes a big storm on the stadium. Mario and Toad go to Bask Ruins, and after beating a Dry Bones in a tennis match, gain entry to the Temple of Bask. There, a mysterious voice who introduces himself as Aster tells Mario that many years ago, Lucien destroyed the Kingdom of Bask, and its king managed to strip Lucien of its power and divided the power between five Power Stones. Over time, though, the room fell to ruin, and Wario and Waluigi stole Lucien oblivious to its true powers. Aster then tasks Mario to go and get the five Power Stones before Lucien does.
Mario manages to take the Power Stones from Piranha Plant Forest, Mirage Mansion, and Snowfall Mountain; however, the possessed Wario and Waluigi beat him to the Power Stones in Savage Sea and Inferno Island. Lucien then declares a tennis war at Marina Stadium that pits Peach and Daisy against Wario and Waluigi, and Mario against Luigi, which Team Mario wins. Bowser then steals Lucien and returns to the Temple of Bask, where he fuses into Bowcien and challenges Mario to one last battle. Mario wins, destroying Lucien as well as the temple and receiving thanks from Aster before he disintegrates. Everyone then celebrates Mario's victory (though Wario and Waluigi express shame for having to destroy Lucien) as the credits roll.
In a post-credits scene, Mario does an autograph on the camera, with the marker he is using making the opening seven notes of the Super Mario Bros. overworld theme.
In Adventure Mode, Mario has to travel in a hub world and complete missions. While some of them are regular tennis matches, Adventure Mode has a lot of other missions, such as challanges where Mario needs to return the ball until he gets a certain amount of points. It also features boss battles, where different objects need to be shot on bosses with the tennis racket to defeat them. The player can also unlock rackets with different stats, powers and abillities.
Additionally, the level selection appears to be based on that of the New Super Mario Bros. series, with red circles indicating an unfinished level and blue circles indicating a completed level, with the name of the level being shown when Mario stands on one.
This mode was added to the game from the version 2.0.0 update. In it, groups of four players (which can be mixed between local and online) participate in a limited-time event to earn coins and unlock alternate costumes. This mode uses Swing Mode controls.
In this event, players use tennis balls to hit Boos on the opposing side of the court to eliminate them, earning coins in the process. If the Boos reach the center of the court, they will steal some coins from the group total. Small mirrors that line the center of the court shoot tennis balls for the players to hit. Some Boos have an orange glow, and when a player hits them their next ball will be large, allowing them to hit more Boos at once. There are three stages, and when the group total reaches a certain threshold of coins they can proceed to the next stage when time runs out. Hitting Boos will also increase the Frenzy bar. When the Frenzy bar is filled up, Frenzy Time will activate. King Boo will appear and hover around the court, and all players will continuously receive tennis balls to hit him to earn more coins. He will disappear when either his health bar or the Frenzy bar is depleted.
Different stages have different hazards. Usually, the group of Boos slowly move towards the center of the court. In some stages, they assemble into set formations, and after the players hit the ball at them, they re-assemble into a new formation. Sometimes, the lights turn off, making it hard to see the Boos. Two glow-in-the-dark Boos also appear, and if a player hits one of them, they will be able to control their mirror to shine a light at the Boos that will halt them in their tracks. Other times, pieces of furniture will fly around the room, making it hard to hit the Boos, and Golden Mushrooms will appear, which can be hit to earn coins.
Mario Tennis Aces differs from prior entries in the series in that there are no traditionally unlockable characters. Rather, only the default characters, Koopa Troopa, Blooper, Diddy Kong, Birdo, and Koopa Paratroopa are currently playable, with more characters set to be added in monthly online tournaments.
Adventure Mode opponents
Unlike their playable versions, they cannot perform Trick Shots and Special Shots. Wario, Waluigi, and Luigi can perform Trick Shots and Special Shots.
Possible future playable characters
In a reported datamine of the demo, Boom Boom, Kamek, Dry Bones, and Dry Bowser were listed as playable characters. Additionally, the latter’s emblem can be seen on a few of the in-game advertisments.
Marina Stadium is the starting court and the only court to be playable in the Tournament mode. Other playable courts are unlocked for Free Play, by completing levels in Adventure Mode. Like in Mario Power Tennis, some courts contain hazards that can be toggled on or off.
Demo and pre-launch online tournament
Prior to the game's release date, a free demo was released on the Nintendo eShop on May 24, 2018. This demo included a pre-launch online tournament, as well as the ability to practice with CPU players. The tournament allowed players to play as Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Bowser, with Waluigi, Toad, Spike, Rosalina, and Chain Chomp becoming available as players earned points, for a total of nine playable characters. All tournament participants could receive an alternate costume for Mario that dresses him in his usual clothes (effectively making him appear identical to his appearance in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash), usable in the full game.
Character unlock criteria
An update was released on June 21, 2018. The following changes were made:
An update was released on June 28, 2018. The following changes were made:
An update was released on July 19, 2018. The following changes were made:
For All Characters:
For Bowser Jr.:
*Ratings of 2,000 or less -> Start at 2,000
An update was released on July 31, 2018. The following changes were made:
An update was released on September 19, 2018. The following changes were made:
Mario Tennis Aces received generally positive reviews from critics. Praise was directed at the visuals and many welcomed new additions of gameplay, but minor criticism was directed at customization and the story mode, with some considering the latter not being rewarding or satisfying enough. The Swing Mode also received mixed reception, with points of contention directed at its responsiveness. The game currently holds a score of 75 on Metacritic based on 84 reviews, and a score of 73.38% on GameRankings based on 37 reviews.
Tristan Ogilvie of IGN gave the game a score of 7.5/10, praising the visuals, the court gimmicks, and the multiplayer mode, but criticized the story mode (considering it bare-bones, with nothing making it a fresh and satisfying experience), and also criticized the way local multiplayer works, stating "The biggest problem with Mario Tennis Aces'[s] Adventure mode is how poorly it incentivises you to keep playing. I had completed all 27 of its levels and unlocked all of its courts and rackets by the time I was on level 34, which was around a half a dozen hours of game time. Out of curiosity, I replayed a number of the challenges and boss fights several more times over to grind my way up to level 55, but was rewarded with absolutely nothing aside from incremental boosts to Mario's stats, thus making the existing challenges even easier. With no New Game+ or more challenging versions of its levels to unlock, or even the option of playing through it with a different character, Mario Tennis Aces'[s] Adventure mode becomes increasingly simple and repetitive the more time you put into it." In a more positive review, Mike Diver of Nintendo Life gave the game an 8/10, praising what he believed to be vast improvements over its Wii U predecessor Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, stating "Where [Mario Tennis:] Ultra Smash's extras were a pure Monkey Island's worth of living without that particular piece of junk – here's your context, kids – [Mario Tennis] Aces stuffs its kit bag with activities until the zip's positively pinging off across the locker room like a smartly volleyed can of energy drink. Not everything is evenly fleshed out, but whatever your preferential way to play, there's plenty to get stuck into, both solo and with pals." In a slightly more lukewarm review, Justin Clark of GameSpot gave the game an 7/10, praising the game's new playing mechanics over past games as well as the story mode's incentive to teach players of the new mechanics, but had mixed to somewhat positive feelings about the story mode, stating "The story itself is ridiculous, but ridiculous in that very specific, quirky way Nintendo has been getting away with for decades. During the Mushroom Kingdom's annual tennis tournament, an evil tennis racket--yes, really--named Lucien takes possession of Luigi and flies off to find five Power Stones that will help him take over the world." He was also more critical of the online play, panning a stark lack of features as his main issue.
By June 30, 2018, the game had sold 1.38 million units worldwide.
Pre-release and unused content
The Special Chance Shot markers from Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, needed to perform the Ultra Smash, were featured in the announcement trailer. The animation Mario performed there was also the same one used for those kinds of shots. In the final game, however, those Chance Shot markers were rather replaced with a rotating star marker, similar to the ones featured in Mario Tennis and Mario Power Tennis, and Zone Shots replaced Ultra Smashes, while retaining their character animations at least in the case of Mario.
Originally, Daisy's final entrance pose showcased her with her mouth closed via a Nintendo Treehouse Log post. In the final game, her mouth is open.
References to other games
Names in other languages