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first_imgStay on target ‘Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Was Final Mission From Late Nintendo President Unlike with pretty much all other sports games, I’m cool with tennis video games even when they go the more realistic “sim” route. It’s probably because I played actual tennis in high school, but also the act of just swinging a racket I think is more accessible on a core level even when you begin to layer other stuff on top of it. Even the most nonsensical aspects of tennis, like the scoring system, make infinitely more sense than literally anything about football.Still, like any other sport, tennis becomes way better as an arcade-style video game. And arguably the best arcade tennis franchise is Mario Tennis, the birthplace of Waluigi. After the full-priced demo that was Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U, Mario Tennis Aces is the second serve on Nintendo Switch. And it’s the most hype-inducing Mario sports game since Mario Strikers Charged over a decade ago.The beauty of Mario Tennis Aces really begins and ends with its masterful mechanics (and the characters’ new tennis outfits). In previous Mario tennis games that depth largely came from having different buttons represent different colorful shot types like fast flat purple shots, powerful red topspin, and curvy blue slices. You could get a bonus by charging a specific shot on a glowing star, but the meat-and-potatoes gameplay came from typical tennis tactics. Go up to the net and force the point. Lob it behind your opponent and pressure them to run back. Hit a drop shot they couldn’t possible reach in time.Mario Tennis Aces keeps all that, and if you so choose, you can play with just those “simple” rules. But the real joy of the game comes the whole host of added special techniques and their exciting strategic options. Depending on the situation, here are some things you can actually do in this tennis game. Leap up into the air and specifically aim a Zone Shot your opponent can’t reach. Slow down time and precisely parry a Zone Shot. Shatter your opponent’s racket with a cinematic Special Shot. Leap a set distance across the court to continue a rally with your Trick Shot. No one move is unbeatable. Everything can be countered. Everything is useful in the right circumstances. And it’s all balanced by a fighting game-esque power meter.The combination of quick thinking and fast reflexes Mario Tennis Aces demands gives it a moderately steep learning curve. Ignoring the deeper moves means you’ll lose points you didn’t have to. The most incredible comebacks typically come from clutch uses of these techniques. But misuse them and Waluigi may just moonwalk his out out of the championship. On a visceral level, winning a tennis match via “knock out” because you broke all your opponent’s rackets is the rawest thing. God, the sound effects! But it’s even more satisfying when it’s the result of a long-term strategy carried out over several games, sets, and matches. You really have to keep playing and practicing and exploring all the different ways the system allows you to express your playstyle.Fortunately, you can do all that by playing through the game’s variety of modes. You can compete in various tournaments, that coincidentally end with matches against Bowser. You can play online and locally with friends in either quick or extended play sessions. And you can even decide whether to play on standard grass and clay courts or wackier Mario courts with hazards like ball-spitting Piranha Plants or tricky ghost mirrors.But the biggest addition is the Adventure Mode, finally combining the RPG stories of Camelot’s portable Mario sports games with the visuals of a console Mario sports game. The mode isn’t as deep as those handheld classics, or games inspired by them like Golf Story, but it is fairly substantial. Travel across various islands leveling up Mario’s tennis stats and gaining new rackets to fight a mummy that possessed Luigi with the Infinity Stones. Really.These challenges, particularly the boss fights, can be very tough and involved. It’s like a whole game of Phantom Ganon rallies from Zelda. Without the right approach, it can almost feel impossible at times (like when a particular puzzle isn’t well communicated). But get through this and you’ll definitely be prepared for competitive play.Not everything here is as great. The unresponsive optional swing mode is disappointing even in casual play, a big bummer especially considering how good the motion controls felt in the Wii Sports tennis games years ago. You can challenge the line judge which is neat in concept but why would the computer ever call a shot wrong?Meanwhile, the highly technical gameplay leaves matches sensitive to online lag, snatching away tournament dreams. And although the game is much beefier than the the threadbare Ultra Smash, it could still use just a little more content, particularly more stages. I was glad to hear there’s free DLC, like playable Blooper, rolling out over the summer in the style of Arms and Splatoon.But as a whole Mario Tennis Aces regularly leaves me shaking with excitement. Matches get so intense and thrilling I’m wishing Nintendo made a metal Switch Elite Controller like Xbox to withstand the professional pressure. Put this game on the EVO main stage alongside Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Street Fighter V. It’s that good. It’s that hype.Buy it now!Mario Tennis AcesNintendo SwitchProtect Your Nintendo Switch With These Awesome CasesLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more

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