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 icon 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. Participating in these can provide the player with participation prizes, including special in-game outfits or additional playable characters. 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.
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. Mario then needs to go and get the five Power Stones before Lucien does.
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 untl 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.
Temple of Bask Shrine
Mario Tennis Aces differs from prior entries in the series in that there are no traditionally unlockable characters. Rather, only the default characters and Koopa Troopa 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, Shy Guy, 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.
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
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 76% on Metacritic based on 71 reviews, and a score of 74.43% on GameRankings based on 30 reviews.
Tristan Ogilvie 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.
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