Mario Tennis Ultra Smash is one of those games that’s made for a little family-fun competition but ends with a lot of yelling and frustration . So, basically, this game lives up to the standards of all of the other Mario spinoff games in the franchise. Games such as these always have their ups and downs, and that holds true for this game especially. While the game can be a lot of fun to play with friends, some of the controls can be very tedious and the game lacks a lot of content. However, this game has some good features that have been implemented to suit the needs of modern Nintendo gaming – such as the inclusion of amiibo support and integrating the use of the gamepad as an option. Let’s dive right into what this game did well and where it fell short.
The controls of this game are pretty standard and are similar to that of the N64 version from years back. By this, I mean they use buttons instead of any motion controls that the Wii U supports. If you use a Wii remote for this game you hold it sideways like in the new Super Mario Bros game for Wii U and you use 1 and 2 as your swinging mechanism – 1 is used to hit a ball in a way that will curve it and 2 is used to hit it harder in a specific direction. The controls on the gamepad and Pro Controller vary accordingly. Throughout the game you can also get the color-coded “chance shots,” and you can do a jump shot but tapping twice on the buttons designated for swinging the racket. You can also press and hold these buttons to load up
For me, the controls are a bit underwhelming. I understand that they kept the controls basic for the wii remote so they could make use of the gamepad and the pro controller, but it still feels like a step down from Wii Sports Resort. If Mario Tennis implemented the motion controls, this game would have been golden and the controls could have been more savvy than in Wii Sports Resort. However, Nintendo seemed to play it safe and decided to use buttons instead of actual motion controls.
The overall gameplay is pretty clean, but it feels empty. Even though it’s a fun game to pick up and play with friends, you can easily get bored of it because there’s just not all that much to do. This is especially if you are playing alone because the game lacks a career mode which would have been put in with a little more effort. There is also a lack of characters, other modes, and any new ideas overall.
One feature I can’t seem to wrap my head around is the inclusion of the giant mushroom as a power-up. In some of the modes, there is a gigantic mushroom at the back of the court as a power-up that allows you to turn huge which basically allows you to be more powerful with your hits and makes it quicker for you to get from one side of the court to the other. This seems like an okay idea I suppose, but it just feels so awkward in the game. Becoming gigantic changes the view of the court which makes it feel weird. In addition, any time you touch that mushroom, there’s a cutscene which pauses the game and shows the character growing. When I’m in the middle of a challenge where I’m totally focused on winning, I don’t want this interruption. It gets extremely annoying, and because of it I even try to avoid touching the mushrooms. Not all modes have this power-up though, so it’s not too bad.
This game also lacks a lot of characters. Twelve characters to start out with, and only four to unlock – really? Super Smash Bros. Melee had a greater number of characters to play as, and that came out fourteen years ago. To make things even worse for this game, Mario Tennis 64 had twenty total characters you could play as – that’s four more than this game allows. It’s simply just not enough and it doesn’t help considering everything else in this game feels empty as well. I’m sure there will be more downloadable characters that will come later, but this game really looks like it’s taken a step backwards. In addition, the characters we have all feel the same. Sure, the characters have certain specialties like power, tricky, and speed; but playing as Bowser feels just as heavy as playing Boo. The characters have specialties, but they still all feel the same.
In addition, the game doesn’t even make me want to get better. With games like these, you have to be able to see some sort of stats in order to feel like you’re actually progressing in the game. This game lacks permanent stats, because match stats are erased after you exit a game.
The game does have a couple of positives, however. In comparison to older versions, the graphics have obviously been cleaned up and the gameplay feels a lot smoother with new features (even though minimal). It’s also great that this game makes use of all the remotes that the game is compatible with – the Wii remote, the gamepad, and the pro controller. While it would have been nice to see some motion controls, it’s still great to see that Nintendo makes almost full use of the Wii U’s capabilities in terms of controllers.
To say the least, this game is underwhelming. It just seems like Nintendo really wasn’t even trying with this game. It feels very rushed because they left out so many things – like a campaign and tournament mode. I found it fun to play initially, but I got bored very quickly. I wouldn’t ever really pick it up to play again, especially by myself. The only thing this game is really good for is a bit of family fun, and that’s about it.
Mario Tennis Ultra Smash receives a 4/10.