Parents need to know that Mario Tennis Aces is a tennis simulation game that sends Mario on an adventure around an island where he must complete tennis-themed challenges. There’s no violence or scariness beyond the occasional body shot that makes characters wince with a sting. The overall vibe is one of friendly competitive play and — if playing with friends locally or online — a sense of cooperation and teamwork. Each character emotes in his or her own way, with traditional heroes like Mario and Peach cheering and frowning in appropriate situations while villains like Bowser and Wario express anger and gloat with victory. Parents should note, too, that while much of the game isn’t terribly challenging, there are sections — especially puzzle challenges and boss fights — that can be frustrating, and could force players to search online for strategies and solutions.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Mario Tennis Aces puts players in the shoes of Mario as he journeys around an island on a role-playing game-like tennis adventure to find a quintet of “power stones” connected to the world’s most powerful tennis racket. It begins with basic tutorials that teach players how to hit a variety of shots, including trick shots and special time-pausing power shots. As players move from location to location, they unlock challenges that force them to practice and exploit specific techniques and shot types. Mario’s level and tennis stats improve with each event. Outside the adventure mode, players can take part in short tournaments against computer controlled opponents, set up matches against other players both in the same room and online, and try “swing” mode, which allows kids to wield their Joy-Cons like real rackets to hit the onscreen ball.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
If you want something more game-like than just a straight tennis simulation, this might be the game for you. Mario Tennis Aces gives players much more than a standard career mode where they master skills and climb ranks. Its adventure mode expertly melds the sort of things kids tend to love about Mario games — colorful graphics, boss battles, puzzles, and a quirky story — with surprisingly strong tennis simulation. The best part is that the adventure challenges are crafted to teach players to master the game’s more intricate strategies. Some puzzle-like levels and boss fights can be frustrating and tricky, but taken as a whole, the adventure mode keeps things fresh and fun throughout.
Nintendo’s game smiths could’ve put a little more into some of the other modes, though. Skilled kids will be able to blast through all of the tournaments in a single night. And while the ability to set up your own matches and play with authentic swing controls is appreciated, there aren’t a lot of options or game types to tinker with. Players who simply love tennis for the sake of tennis — and who want to play the game socially with friends or family — will have fun here, but others may lose interest. Overall though, there’s an awful lot to do, making Mario Tennis Aces one of the best and most satisfying Mario sports games in some time.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 8 and older
Quality: 4 out of 5
Positive messages: 4 out of 5
Positive role models: 2 out of 5
Ease of play: 3 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 0 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Pricing structure: Paid
Available online? Available online
Developer: Nintendo of America
Release date: June 22, 2018
Topics: Sports and martial arts
ESRB rating: E for No Descriptors