Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, Nintendo, 2015
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Mario Tennis fan. I first played Mario Tennis 64 in 2000 when it came out and have been hooked on the series ever since. From 64 to Power Tennis on Gamecube to it’s reissue on the Wii all the way to Open on the 3DS. I even went back to the portable Gameboy Colour and Gameboy Advance games, the only one l haven’t played is the original game for the Virtual Boy. With that out of the way, l find it difficult to express how disappointed l am in Mario Tennis Ultra Smash.
Where are the modes Nintendo? How do they expect us to fork over $50 for almost no modes? It’s maddening. So there’s no tournament and no story mode (amiibo play is not that interest either -trust me-), leaving me sitting here playing exhibition matches over and over. Great. A true bare-bones release. I bought these Mario Tennis games because they offered more of a gaming experience than this. I looked forward to playing those increasingly difficult tournaments and winning those cups -it gave me a reason to play and re-play- now l have very little reason to play. Knockout Challenges replaces tournament mode and it does offer some difficulty but it’s not nearly the same. You can earn coins to purchase unlockables. Mega-Ball Rally is the only mini-game present. You hit a mega ball instead of a tennis ball, it’s nothing special.
“It gives me no pleasure to hate on the game, au contraire. I’ve been anticipating Ultra Smash for quite some time.”
Now the gameplay itself is not horrible, it’s just that it’s lacking any type of support or input from the manufacturer. Even online is a joke with no lobbies or communities. You can’t play with your friends online either, what a downer. It can easily take over 3 minutes to find someone around the world to play with, it’s not bad but it’s obviously not that popular of an online game. The gameplay is decent and the game looks beautiful with it’s crisp colours and sharp graphics.The visual elements are stunning, it’s a visually appealing game, l’ll give it that.
As for new content there’s Mega Battles, where eating a Mushroom will render you into a giant momentarily which is kind of fun. Jump shots are new but unimportant. Chance shots make their return from Open on the 3DS but there’s nothing truly significant or new in Ultra Smash. But that’s it, that’s as far as innovation or fun goes in this game.There are 9 different courts to play on. They all have their own unique attributes that create certain challenges such as the slippery lce Court or the Rebound Court where you have to anticipate where the ball will bounce.
Character selections leaves a lot to be desired as well. Why do we have Dry Bowser and Green Sprixie Princess but no Diddy Kong or Shy Guy? Can’t play as a Mii either. I also find it funny that the game supports Amiibos when there is so little to do.You can play with the Wii U Pad or the Wiimote. The Nunchuck is not useable. It seemed like a no brainer given the Wiimote that you’d be able to play standing and running doing smashes and serves, burning off calories at the same time. It doesn’t only sounds healthy it sounds fun as well. But nope, you play with the Wiimote turned to the site like a standard controller as there is no motion support. The Wii U pad is really your best option to play. The pad can also show a different angle than that of your TV’s (which can get confusing) or it can work as a simple scoreboard.
it looks more fun than it actually is.
It gives me no pleasure to hate on the game, au contraire. I’ve been anticipating Ultra Smash for quite some time. That’s why it’s hard for me to write this review, but l feel it’s my duty to be honest and maybe help someone make their decision. If you want to play exhibition over and over, it’s a fine game. If you’re looking for a challenge or a Mario Tennis game with a story or tournament mode, this is not it. No motion support and not a very exciting roster.
It’s a new Mario Tennis that offers less, nothing new and in fact takes away a lot of things from the franchise. In terms of pure value, it’s sorely lacking. You may find yourself wondering where that $50-60 went. I’ll give two stars because of the exhibition and because it’s not horrible, but Nintendo should be ashamed of pushing such a slim, underdeveloped product on us (maybe as part of their christmas push perhaps?). 2/5 tennis balls.