I was bored and decided I wanted to play some Mario Tennis. I have the 3DS one at arms reach but I wanted something new. So I went out and got Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on the Wii U.
I had heard some pretty negative points about the content in this game (or lack of). As soon as the game starts up you’re brought to the usual “Press Start to Play screen” with the Wii U buttons and then the menu. At a glance this menu kind of tells you everything that’s in this game. You have the Mega Battle in a really big in-your-face box and it’s where you play the usual Mario Tennis but with Mega Mushrooms as the focus. Mega Ball Rally has you try to see how many times you can hit the ball back and forth without either you or your opponent missing. Knockout challenge is probably the mode you will play most, unless you’re playing with some buddies. In this mode you face off against random characters and see how many you can beat in a row. Classic tennis is the Mario Tennis you remember. You play a regular match with the option of chance shots or not. Chance shots require you to hit the “Y” button twice at the designated spot and your character will leap high into the air and smash the ball down in a blaze of glory. Online allows you to play with anyone world wide. The last option is a rewards screen where you can obtain characters and such for completing certain objectives.
Ultra Smash is definitely lacking when it comes to the roster. You have Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Peach, Daisy, Rosalina, Toad, Wario, Waluigi, Yoshi, Boo and DK and 4 hidden characters. Though, I guess in comparison to a ton of Yoshis this would seem rather sparse.
The courts are standard… that’s it. There is one court in the game with variations on the style of it. You can play on Sand, Grass, Carpet, Ice and some more but it doesn’t feel too different. It is at least very detailed, paper audience aside. You have toads standing around everywhere acting as line watchers and such. You can even walk over to them and they will move out of the way for you and even dodge incoming tennis balls and I found myself running around to see how far I could go. I got to the boundaries of the actual court with an actual wall blocking me instead of an invisible one. That was neat but it’s not an excuse for the lack of court variation. There are also some Shy guys and Koopa Troopas as well as a Lakitu running about.
This game also features amiibo functionality. You can use any amiibo that has a corresponding in-game character. Sadly, they didn’t bother to make an amiibo for each one. You can use amiibos in two places. One is the Knockout challenge and then there is an amiibo training mode which needs to be unlocked. The training is pretty barebones and doesn’t seem to add a lot to the game. You play matches with your amiibo or against and after five matches they gain a random attribute such as better speed or control. These didn’t seem to change much as my amiibo lined itself up just to watch the ball fly by.
I spent most of my time in Knockout challenge. If you want to unlock everything as well as being the most convenient way to train your amiibo this is the place. You start off against Toad, I’m not sure if it’s always Toad or a mere coincidence that I always started against him. Every mode, aside from Classic, contains Mega Mushrooms. At first I wasn’t sure what the purpose of them was aside from just being bigger. I would mostly only get them accidentally with my amiibo always tending to grab it first. I soon realized that your hits are much stronger when Mega and you have insane range. In such a small court this became imperative to grab. Though, not much of an issue earlier on or at easier difficulties. The first match is simple as expected. You start, then rush the net, then win, rinse and repeat. Every five matches you play against a “boss” character which seems to always be Wario, Waluigi and then Bowser in that order. Wario and Waluigi are just standard matches. The Match with Bowser has Kamek come out and cast a spell on him, making him permanently Mega and I learned of a flaw of Bowser being this way. If you hit straight at him it will usually hit him in the face scoring you a point. That’s pretty useful considering his range.
I did briefly play some of the other modes starting with Mega Battle. In this mode the emphasis is on Mega Mushrooms. If you played the Knockout Challenge then you would get the basic idea of this. The Mega Ball Rally is a test of patience since you want to keep the rally going but your AI opponent wants no part of this, constantly trying to score a point on you. There is a challenge for getting one hundred hits so I’d recommend doing this with a friend. Classic Tennis is probably the mode you would play with friends since there is no Mega Mushrooms. This mode comes in two flavors, Standard and Simple. Standard is pretty much what you have played until now minus the Mega Mushrooms, of course and Simple has no chance shots. If the recieving player is not mid court then this is a guaranteed point since the ball will bounce so high it’s impossible to return it.
We can’t forget the Medals or unlockable area. This area tells you what you need to do in order to unlock all the secrets. There are twenty ficve Medals, one medal for each star character, one for each court style and then there’s CPU difficulties and the amiibo training. You can even buy these with coins you earn for playing any match. It doesnt take much time to unlock everything since trying to accomplish these challenges you will more than likely get enough coins to buy at least half of these. I managed to complete the whole list in about five hours.
Overall, if you like Mario Tennis and are really in need of a new Wii U game then this is for you otherwise don’t bother. The overabundance of Mega Mushrooms and lack of content really bring the game down, especially a the $49.99 they are asking for. This is a Mario game so don’t expect a price drop anytime soon.