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    Thread: Mario Tennis Aces launches this June on Nintendo Switch

    1. #1
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      Mario Tennis Aces launches this June on Nintendo Switch

      Nintendo courts tennis fans






      Mario Tennis Aces will be released June 22 on Nintendo Switch, the company announced today during its latest Nintendo Direct presentation.
      It will be the first entry in the sports franchise to be available on Nintendo’s latest gaming platform. The previous Mario Tennis game, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, launched in November 2015 on Wii U. Nintendo unveiled Mario Tennis Aces during a surprise Nintendo Direct Mini video in January.
      A lengthy segment of today’s Nintendo Direct focused on Mario Tennis Aces, with Nintendo detailing the gameplay features available in the tennis title. More than 15 characters will be playable in Mario Tennis Aces, among them Nintendo stalwarts such as Mario, Waluigi and Donkey Kong as well as more surprising characters like Chain Chomp and Toadette. The game will support up to four players in local and online multiplayer; Nintendo is promising online events and tournaments, with rewards such as special outfits and even bonus characters.

      Camelot Software Planning/Nintendo
      Mario Tennis Aces will offer multiple control schemes — including motion controls for aiming a special type of shot, the Zone Shot. Zone Shots, which can damage an opponent’s racket, are one kind of powered-up option that players have at their disposal. Taking three hits will break a racket, and if you have no rackets left, you forfeit the match. If an opponent times their swing perfectly, though, they can block Zone Shots and even the most powerful attack, the Special Shot. Another ability is Zone Speed, which works like bullet time, allowing you to get to balls you wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
      All those moves consume energy from a gauge that slowly fills up over the course of a rally. A much faster way to replenish it is to use a Trick Shot, which lets you jump to cover more ground, but also must be timed properly. If you don’t want to deal with any of this stuff, you can play with “simple rules,” under which only basic shots — topspin, slices, lobs, etc. — are allowed. And casual players can swing a Joy-Con controller to play the game.

      Nintendo
      Mario Tennis Aces will feature a story mode — the first game in the Mario Tennis series to do so since 2005’s Mario Tennis: Power Tour on Game Boy Advance. The campaign will feature missions as well as boss battles with enemies like a giant piranha plant. Camelot Software Planning, the Japanese studio behind Nintendo sports franchises such as Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, is developing Mario Tennis Aces.

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      Mario Tennis Aces impressions: unrelenting pressure in multiplayer




      Winning online requires familiarity with a deep toolset






      Mario Tennis Acesis a game of pressure. Relentless pressure, if you’re going to play against live competition. I figured this out about six matches into the demo tournament Nintendo staged this weekend — and I got throttled in all of them. I had a brutal introduction to the game’s multiplayer, sometimes perturbed by lag, and frequently determined by who built up their energy meter the fastest to unleash near-unstoppable attacks.
      The game, launching June 22 on Nintendo Switch, does give players some defensive tools, such as a “trick shot” that is more about getting a player to the ball in a hurry, and the ability to slow time. But against a human player, once placed on the defensive, it is hard as hell to retake control — and in Mario Tennis Aces, even a modestly skilled receiver can take it away from the server on the first return.
      This is, I suppose, a tribute toMario Tennis Aces’ gameplay, because that’s how tennis is supposed to work in real life, right? Still the slice (Y on the controls) seemed a little too overpowered in its ability to move the opponent from sideline to sideline. I saw its blue trail a lot coming from my opponents and, to be fair, it was my go-to shot as well. A drop shot (down + X) is the silent killer of the arsenal, and it dies almost immediately. An opponent content to hang out on the baseline and direct traffic there can be frustrated with a carefully placed drop. It just depends a lot on surprise.




      Camelot Software Planning/NintendoThat left little differentiation, to me anyway, between the top-spin shot and a flat shot (B). Though the former does have some spin to it, given the range that players can cover on the court — and it’s nearly all of it with a well-timed Trick Shot — there really isn’t much separating the two as a tactical choice. They’re basically default returns, which is probably why I saw so much of the slice.
      But again, they’re still useful in a charged-up state (holding the button before the ball arrives) because of how much they will fill up that energy meter, which triggers the Special Shot. It was hard for me to tell, but a traditional charged shot seemed to fill that meter more than a double-tap of a button, which is a way to put some mustard on the ball if you don’t have time to charge a shot. Charging a shot is going to stop the player in their tracks; it can’t be done while running. So that places a premium on being in position, charging up as the ball comes to you.


      Getting in position is lot harder than it sounds. The players were so mobile (Yoshi especially) that I often simply ran myself out of a play. Some of this may have been due to server lag. But other times, I outsmarted myself either trying to anticipate my opponent’s return or even just returning to the center of the screen, only to have the ball come back to where I was standing. Counterintuitively, staying put and reacting to where the shot is coming seems to be a better fundamental.
      That’s partly because of the enormous range of the trick shot. Flicking right or left on the right thumbstick (less frequently, up or down) will zip Mario, Peach or whomever to a ball they wouldn’t ordinarily get, and return it. Executed properly, this also adds to the energy meter. I was less apt to use the “zone speed” bullet-time ability (which costs energy) except to get into position to block Special Shots. That can be done, but poorly timed it can break your racket, and you only get two per match. I was knocked out of one of my tournament games, no doubt satisfying to my opponent.
      Then there’s the new “zone shot,” which is basically a powered-up version of the jump-smash seen in 2015’s lackluster Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. It’s available more frequently than a special shot, and costs energy. When a star appears on the court, race over to it as you square up your return, and the zone shot is yours to take. Not sure if I was dealing with input lag when this happened, but that star seemed to have a very tight box to activate the zone shot, as I whiffed on my fair share (or got hit by the ball). One protip is to hold down on R (or ZR) as you move to the star; it not only slows down time (at the cost of energy, though) it’ll automatically trigger the zone shot once you get there.


      Camelot Software Planning/NintendoIn a zone shot, the player goes into a first-person targeting mode to place the killshot. (The same is true for the Special Shot.) Because of my experience placing shots with the Pro Controller, I don’t recommend it, and if you do use one, do not use the right thumbstick. In fact, splitting the Joy-Cons and playing with one in each hand seemed to give me better tilt control over placing Zone Shots (but making it harder to key the Trick Shot). A timer of inconsistent length, which seems to be tied to how long you were in place before the ball arrived, counts down as you try to target the shot. Zone Shots are no sure thing and had me swearing plenty of times. But they’re there to retake control of a point, I just need more practice.
      Aesthetically, Mario Tennis Aces pours on the charm, even with just one court and 10 characters (five unlocked) during the demo. Rosalina, unlocked after 1,000 points in the tournament, seemed to be a favored character for top-notch players. Chain Chomp, of all characters, was available at 1,500. I don’t know why, but the officials’ blazer on Chair Umpire Toad made me giggle. So did the Toad linesmen. The special shots all have over-the-top animations tailored to their characters, which were fun to look at even as I knew I was going to get my ass handed to me or, worse, my racket broken.
      When it launches, Mario Tennis Aces will have a lot more single-player content, including an “adventure mode” and player-versus-CPU tournament. That may keep me more engaged than the maelstrom of online multiplayer, which saw impressive participation this weekend and, by some of the tournament scores I saw, had plenty of people who did nothing but play it since Friday evening. For them, and other veterans of the series who remember the ho-hum Ultra Smash, it should be a worthy return for Mario Tennis.
      Mario Tennis Aces launches June 22 on Nintendo Switch. As of publication time, the multiplayer demo tournament will be available for another nine hours, until 3 a.m. ET June 4.

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      Mario Tennis Aces is getting three new characters this fall



      Head online if you’d like to unlock them early



      Nintendo has announced that Diddy Kong, Birdo and Koopa Paratroopa are coming to Mario Tennis Aces this fall, teasing the characters at the end of the trailer embedded at the top of this post. This is great news for players who have felt like the game is a bit thin on content at the moment.
      Mario Tennis Aces is a very good game, but it’s not quite the game many of us were hoping for it to be. It’s helpful to think about it in terms of a fighting game, and not the sort of RPG-heavy Nintendo sports game that has been released in the past. And that distinction is part of the reason that news about new characters is so exciting; fighting games live and die by their characters.
      Nintendo has also introduced an interesting way to incentivize players to take part in the online tournaments; doing so will let you unlock new characters earlier. Nintendo really wants you playing online, and this system gives you positive reinforcement for doing so. No specific dates were given for the ability to unlock the characters, online or otherwise, however. It’s likely the characters will be released after the launch of Nintendo Switch Online this September.
      Mario Tennis Aces is available now for the Nintendo Switch; we’ll see you online!

     

     

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