After taking a break from console gaming, Mario and his friends are back on the court with Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, a brand new iteration of the well loved sports franchise. A Wii U exclusive, it’s destined to turn friends and family into racquet-wielding enemies when it releases this holiday season.
Upon visiting Nintendo for our one-hour booth tour at this year’s E3, the first thing I saw was someone playing Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. Prior to that, I hadn’t heard about or seen anything from the game, and was elated to see that one of my favourite series was destined to return. So, needless to say, it also ended up being the first game I played while in the Big N’s VIP area, though I didn’t get to play it for long before we were asked to switch to Star Fox.
Honestly, all I really played was one game of tennis. It wasn’t much, and I’d wanted to play a lot more, but my hands-on time was thoroughly enjoyable and definitely memorable.
From the look (and feel) of things, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is a polished and colourful take on the venerable series, with some cool additions. It’s chock full of colour and features more than its fair share of charged shots, but the most badass facet of our demo happened to be its mushroom power-ups.
Since we’re all gamers here, the fact that mushrooms make Mario grow needn’t be described. That’s what happens here, too, though, because running over a moving mushroom power-up will turn any regular-sized character into a hulking version of him or herself. So hulking, in fact, that they can take up about 60-70% of the court’s width and have a hard time missing shots.
At least, that was true of Bowser, who was my opponent when I played with Mario. The dinosaur got gigantically wide and was a torment on the court, whereas Mario grew more vertically than horizontally. That said, one character is known for his agility while the other is iconic for being a hulking badass whose power outweighs his speed. Those things come into play in all of Mario’s sports games, so why should this one be any different?
It seems as if mushrooms will be a huge part of the game, and that they’ll be a helpful way to turn the tide of any challenging match. They’re likely not alone in the power-up department, but we didn’t see anything else. That is, outside of some highlighted spots, from which special shots could be taken.
The controls were easy to grasp and very accessible overall, and I was able to use the Wii U Pro Controller throughout the entirety of my game. In fact, the entirety of the experience was fluid. Beautiful and colourful, too, but we’re talking about an HD Nintendo game so that’s to be expected.
In the end, it’s hard to really knock anything about Nintendo’s Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash demo. It was accessible, fluid, colourful and fun, and properly presented a game that should definitely be a winner when it’s finally released.