Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Review

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is the latest in the Mario Tennis series, and the first to finally enter the era of HD.  Does this title deliver as a Mario Tennis entry for the current generation, or is it really just shinier with a few tweaks and the biggest, cutest Sprixie you ever did see?

Gameplay

First off, it’s fun.  I found myself laughing to myself, and jovially cursing at various happenings simply because they either looked funny, or because Mario Tennis has always just been a hilarious take on tennis.  Where else will you see Daisy eat a tennis ball in the face?  Part of what makes it fun is how easy it controls and how just about anyone can jump in.  This game can be played by button mashers, and in that respect, it’s really a great game to have when friends are over.  But once they leave, there’s a slight problem: the deepest core of the mechanics don’t really go that deep.  There’s the obvious slices, topspins, and flat shots, as well as chance shots that intensify matches a bit, but at the end of the day (potentially even the same day), you might just find yourself having mastered or nearly-mastered just about every mechanic.  It’s fun because of its accessibility, and “going big” is always worth the chuckle and dynamic advantage, but its core gameplay depth doesn’t quite go far enough for anything other than casual play.  In fact, I found myself playing most of my time with Pro AI simply because the hilarity of higher difficulty AI served a slight compensation to the lack of deeper mechanics, though this resulted in rallies that sometimes lasted several minutes or more.  I then hopped online, hoping the human factor would up the ante, but every match I had resulted in some sort of lag stutter, and it made it clear that this game is using the same netcode from Wii Sports Club Tennis.  So be warned, if you and your partner don’t have the most ideal of connections with one another, you’ll find that the same online experience from Wii Sports Club Tennis carries over.

Content

Here is where this game has its biggest issue: I saw all there was to see within hours.  Even unlocking Star version characters and all of the stages, the modes just don’t offer up enough variety to really justify its price tag, even reduced at $50.  I really had hoped there’d be a lot more variety in mixing up modes, as this is Mario Tennis in the HD era, so we have the power and capacity to do some zany things.  The zaniest thing is the one thing they advertise: going big.  Outside of that, it’s rather hollow.  Furthermore, the roster is disappointingly small.  With so many ripe opportunities for a much more diverse roster, it’s a disappointing sight.  I mean, how can you just leave Diddy out?!  And when you consider Mario Kart 8’s roster, it’s odd that the obvious possibility of including cross-game characters was ignored.  I can easily say that content is the biggest offender here: there’s just not enough modes and not enough characters to last a person the full price tag.

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Presentation

It seems Nintendo really has grasped bringing colorful, clean visuals into HD without losing that cartoon-like charm.  The game looks clean, simple, and its effectively vibrant.  At the same time, though, this isn’t exactly praise.  This far into the lifespan of the Wii U, so much more could have been done with backgrounds, potentially even tennis courts that take place in drastic locations such as Bowser’s Castle.  And with this missed opportunity of creating beautiful backdrops from various locations in the Mario universe using the power of the Wii U, it’s yet again lacking in utilization of current generation technology.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s not ugly, but there’s nothing to really write home about either.

Conclusion

There is unequivocal fun to be had here.  If you’re ONLY looking for fun, you might just find yourself begging to play this game with your friends since there’s really nothing else like it right now.  However, if you’re looking for a deeper experience, it’s not here.  Furthermore, it doesn’t justify its price tag nor do the Wii U justice with so many missed opportunities having both a lackluster roster, and court locales being nothing more than a surface change.  There’s just too much to point out that doesn’t justify this Mario Tennis entry as one for the books, and its older netcode hampers the online experience, reducing its longer-term play potential.  Still, I can’t deny I found myself smiling and laughing, and for some of you, that’s all the matters.

I give Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash… a 7.5/10.

Check out ZyroXZ2 on YouTube for more gaming videos layered with sarcasm, and sometimes humor.  Mostly sarcasm.

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Review
There is unequivocal fun to be had here. If you're ONLY looking for fun, you might just find yourself begging to play this game with your friends since there's really nothing else like it right now. However, if you're looking for a deeper experience, it's not here. Furthermore, it doesn't justify its price tag nor do the Wii U justice with so many missed opportunities having both a lackluster roster, and court locales being nothing more than a surface change. There's just too much to point out that doesn't justify this Mario Tennis entry as one for the books, and its older netcode hampers the online experience, reducing its longer-term play potential. Still, I can't deny I found myself smiling and laughing, and for some of you, that's all the matters.
Pros
  • Clean visuals
  • Fun, casual gameplay
  • Great game for gatherings
Cons
  • Doesn't justify its price tag
  • Netcode issues
  • Too many missed opportunities
7.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Jason (ZyroXZ2) created a gaming channel on YouTube centered around Nintendo to show his love and support for them and their latest console... And also because he's sarcastic and loves to make people laugh while in deep thought. People can do both, right?