I’ve been pretty excited for Mario Tennis Aces ever since I caught its announcement in the Nintendo Direct Mini; it’s looking to be a solid return to form after the disappointment that was the Wii U installment. Evidently, someone at D3 Publisher is excited too. Their Tennis emerged not too long after Nintendo’s own unveiling, and it looks to imitate the mustache man’s charm. Only problem? It’s nowhere as good.
There’s nothing visually interesting about Tennis. At its best, Tennis has some of the same effects and flashes as the Mario Tennis series; at its worst, slowdown may occur despite how basic the courts are, and none of the characters are memorable. One court doesn’t even seem to have a proper skybox, and the menus are just plain static.
For the love of God, can these characters shut up?! Every single whack feels the need to be followed up with a “Take that!” or “Here goes!”. It’s obnoxious and doesn’t mix with the gameplay well. The nature of it all makes me wonder if this game is squarely aimed at a young audience rather than all ages. Then again, the gameplay itself seems built for the former in all the wrong ways.
Tennis is a video game recreation of the sport, obviously. Two people whack a ball over a net at each other, hoping that it zooms past his or her opponent. Whereas actual tennis is fun and demanding, however, Tennis on the Nintendo Switch restricts and simplifies the enjoyment that could be had. There are eight characters and six courts to choose from, but it’s all really cosmetic. There are no real differences between how any of them play out.
In real Tennis you run up to the ball to hit it. In this Tennis, on the other hand, the game automatically controls your character so he or she runs up to the ball without your input. All the analog stick is good for is for aiming your shot. The fact that this is a deliberately implemented design choice baffles me. Touch screen and motion controls are also present in Tennis, but the minimal functions there are makes this more unsurprising than impressive.
The matches end up feeling like endurance tests as a result of this inability to move freely. Every round, you’re hoping the CPU or your friend would crack so you could take advantage of the opportunity by either aiming the ball far away from his or her position or firing a supercharged shot that’s impossible to hit back. The latter can be activated when the meter at the top is filled, not unlike in Mario Power Tennis. Here, it’s your only saving grace when facing the hardest difficulty, because the CPU will foretell just about every move of yours. On the default difficulty, though, you can tear through the tournament mode in about eleven minutes.
Oh yeah, the tournament mode is also the closest thing there is to a campaign in Tennis. There are only three modes in this game: Tournament, Quick Play, and Rally Challenge. Tournament is essentially three Quick Play matches, and Rally Challenge is just doing what you’re already doing except without the notion to break the cycle.
Yep, this game is a cash grab. Don’t get it. Wait for Mario Tennis Aces. At least that one will actually let you have full control of your character.