Mario Tennis is a surprisingly good sports game that stars some of Nintendo’s most beloved characters. There’s just something about the back and forth between friends and enemies that really helped lift the series up as one of the best in the Mario stable. Nintendo looks to bring the same feeling to the Wii U (finally) with Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash this holiday season.
On the surface, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash looks to be a prettier version of the tennis games you may remember from when you were younger. Mario battles Bowser on a colorful court as the player tries to trick his/her opponent into running the wrong way. You know, standard tennis fare. But, underneath the pretty coat of paint that is ushering the franchise into the current generation, there are a few extra tweaks thrown into the mix to bring fans the most extreme Mario Tennis game they could possibly create.
During our hands-on demo, we got to experience one of the new power-ups in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash: the Mega Mushroom. The Mega Mushroom does exactly what you’re probably expecting it would, it makes you big… really big. Just run up to this item when you see it appear on the floor and watch as you grow to gigantic proportions, able to cover the whole court on your own without having to worry about running and diving. One downside of this power-up that absolutely needs to be pointed out is that the cutscenes are sometimes jarring. Having a cutscene start to play right when you’re running for the ball can (and often will) end in you losing the point. Hopefully it’s something that will be adjusted by release, because power-ups are just too much fun to pass up on.
You also have much more control over your character in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. Selecting the right shot, and placement is of the utmost importance (as it is in all tennis games), and now you will have direct control over every swing. Admittedly, it was a bit confusing at first. Remembering whether to hit one of the face buttons, or a specific combination of two of them at the right time made things a bit difficult. But, once you get the hang of it, it will allow for you to better dominate the competition as you rack up wins.
The demo was relatively short so we didn’t get the opportunity to see more than that singular power-up, and get to feel how the game actually plays. But, it was enough to show that it’s shaping up to be another stellar entry into this Mario sports franchise. Hopefully, Nintendo will reveal more details in the coming months about Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, especially with regards to power-ups. The Mega Mushroom was a nice taste of something crazy, and it would be nice to get a mention of even more extreme abilities that players will have at their disposal.
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash looks to be the Mario Tennis game that fans have been waiting on for years now. Fast, colorful action, insane power-ups, and strategic play all with everyone’s favorite characters. You can look forward to playing this Nintendo title later this year.