Mario Tennis Aces belongs to a series where some of the most enjoyable moments might be the ones where you face other players. Getting to get two or four other people to play together means a chance for everyone to participate in a game that typically does not have many barriers of entry. Mario Tennis Aces continues that tradition, with its few minor problems barely holding people back from a game that is open to everyone.
First, Mario Tennis Aces offers people a good assortment of characters to choose from. 16 characters are immediately available at launch, with no need to have to unlock them. We get three all-around characters (Mario, Luigi and Daisy), two technical ones (Peach and Toadette), two speedsters (Toad and Yoshi), five powerhouses (Bowser, Chain Chomp, Donkey Kong, Spike and Wario), two defensive dudes (Bowser Jr. and Waluigi) and two tricksters (Boo and Rosalina). The only ones that are locked are ones that will be offered as tournament rewards before being given away to all players. The only elements that involve unlocking are stages. It makes it incredibly easy to jump in and start playing with people you like.
The different game options help too. When you start a Free Play match, you have different Play Styles to choose from. Standard involves all of the special moves and elements, like Zone Shots. But if you are playing with someone new to Mario Tennis Aces, you can go with a Simple mode that takes away all that, omitting the charge meter, and letting you just play tennis. KOs can be removed. If you prefer motion controls, you can even go with a Swing Mode that enables them for everyone playing. These allow things to be as beginner-friendly or complicated as you would like.
I also appreciated the range of Free Play multiplayer options. There is local, split-screen multiplayer for two to four people. This can be played with standard or motion controls. You can also take it online. The last three times I played, I went online, invited a friend to play doubles, then ended up playing against random other players. Or, you can just play against a single friend. You can be in a match with people in seconds. I did not experience lag when facing off against a known friend, but sometimes matches with four people online were a little sluggish.
While there are plenty of multiplayer options, there are some pitfalls when playing. The one I found most frustrating involved the inability to select a court as part of setting up a match. It is possible to brute force your way into the one you want, but you first need to remove all of the ones you do not want to play on from the running by choosing to change the rules, going down to court, choosing custom, then pressing the plus or minus button to toggle courts on and determine if there are things like hazards or what the ground type is like. I just wish there was an easier option to select the one you want.
The Play Time options in Mario Tennis Aces are a little limiting too. You have Quick Play, which makes the first person to seven points the winner. (Unless a tie occurs at 6-6, since then one person has to have a two-point lead.) Extended Play makes it a little more trying, as it has a similar notion but gives the first person to win two games the win. (If it is 1-1, one person needs a two-game lead.) This is great for people who like short games! It fits with the style of a tennis game that is more about being goofy and having a Mario-spin on it than being true to the actual sport. But in real tennis simulators, you need to win six games with a lead of two games to win a set, and need to win best of three sets in women’s tennis or best of five in men’s. That extended option is not present, which some may find frustrating.
Mario Tennis Aces is generally a very friendly game. It offers every major character right away. There are lots of control and gameplay schemes that keep people at all skill levels in mind. It is easy to start playing with friends. It would be helpful if it was easier to select a court or if a traditional tennis scheme was offered. Still, it is a good first option for Nintendo Switch owners who are looking for a Mario sports game.
Mario Tennis Aces is available for the Nintendo Switch.