The Good, The Bad, and the Online Subscription Service (Nintendo Switch Online Discussion)

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I’m going to start this out by making something very clear: I don’t play games online very often. I much prefer single player gaming experiences, and when it comes to multiplayer, I like sitting on a couch with friends and family face to face. The only game I play online regularly is Team Fortress 2, and I only sporadically play other games online with friends, or jump into a random Mario Kart games on rare occasions. So maybe I’m not the BEST person to be talking about this subject. But regardless, let’s discuss Nintendo Switch Online.

For those of you out of the loop, Nintendo Switch Online is the Big N’s new online subscription service for their smash hit hybrid console, the Switch (as if the name wasn’t obvious enough). For a measly 20 dollars a year, it allows you access to free games, exclusive special offers, save-data backups, and of course online multiplayer for your favorite Nintendo games. Sounds like a good deal, right?

Well, not everyone is happy with the introduction of this new service. Especially considering the fact that the Switch’s online multiplayer has been free to access for well over a year up until this point.

Back in March of 2017, the plan was to have Nintendo Switch Online launch the same year as its home console. Online play would be free for a few months, and then it would be swapped out for the paid subscription. But then the launch of the service was delayed to an unknown date. And as it turns out, it wasn’t ready for the public use for a full year’s time.

During the delay, the Switch became wildly popular and a best seller, having sold almost twenty million units since launch and surpassing it’s predecessor’s lifetime sales by six million. Needless to say, it’s built up quite the player base in a short amount of time. And large majority of those players enjoy playing games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, and Splatoon 2 online with other Switch owners.

So now, after a year and a half of free online for all, that access to the world of internet gaming is being locked behind a pay wall. And people are understandably angry. Splatoon 2 players have been hit especially hard by this, because all of the games events and a majority of people’s playtime with the title takes place in its online environment. Sure, there IS solo gameplay content, but the entire purpose behind the series is to be Nintendo’s take on a multiplayer shooter. And through all this, the previous entry in the series is still free to play online on the Wii U.

Considering how long the service was delayed for, the higher ups at Nintendo had a long time to think about how Switch Online should be handled and how their players would react to the change. But they stuck to their original plan, and now have to deal with the angry backlash. The services’ overview trailer on YouTube reflects this anger, with the reactions to it being astoundingly negative. And players have every right to be negative and angry about the change.

But at the same time, it’s surprising to me just HOW upset people are. Reactions vary between mild annoyance to being absolutely LIVID over the change. They’re acting like Nintendo sent armed infantry to their homes and threatened to kill their parents, friends, and pets if they didn’t hand over twenty bucks.

And that’s the kicker here: twenty dollars a year. People are getting their panties in a twist over what a minimum wage job pays in under two hours. Is it really worth vowing a vendetta against Nintendo for such a small amount of money?

Let’s put this into focus for a second, and compare Nintendo Switch Online to the other leading console’s similar services. For the Xbox One, you have Xbox Live Gold for $59.99 a year. For the Playstation 4, you have Playstation Plus for the same price and the same period of time. All three services offer similar features and similar payment options, with the main differences being that Live Gold and PSPlus are more expensive and have been around for much longer. And yet players have put up with those services for years now. Comparatively, the twenty dollars a year for Switch Online is wildly affordable.

Though I guess the biggest difference between the three gaming giants and their online play is that Nintendo’s online access has ALWAYS been free up until this point. The Wii and the DS had free online play until the service was discontinued, and the 3DS and Wii U still have free online even though the Switch doesn’t. This a big change for die-hard Nintendo fans who have had that freedom of play for a very long time. And having that freedom being taken away is frustrating to say the least.

During the year long delay of it’s launch, Nintendo should have reevaluated Switch Online and what they wanted to accomplish with it. In my opinion, what should have been done is keep basic online play free, while adding Switch Online as an option for a premium service. Switch Online would have provided users with save data back ups, free games, special offers, and extra features to ENHANCE online play, like the use of their phone app for voice chat and unique game features for Switch Online users. (Discussion of the app is another barrel of monkeys that we can talk about, but we’re going to leave it alone for now.)

The Switch Online launch and the reaction to it is a giant mess, to say the least. There are about a hundred ways Nintendo could have gone about creating and introducing the service that wouldn’t strip away features of the console and make their loyal players angry. But I guess my point through all this is that it really isn’t that big of a deal. Shelling out twenty dollars for a year’s subscription won’t break your bank account. And if you don’t have a job or are too young to get one, asking your parent or guardian for an advance in your allowance shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

And even if you don’t have the extra money, there’s still plenty to enjoy about the Nintendo Switch. Considering the system’s portability and ease of play with other Switch owners, the online component to the system is more of a bonus feature, in my opinion. Am I happy that I have to pay for it now? No, not really. But I’m not ANGRY about it either. If anything, I’m excited to see what the fledgling service has to offer and what will be added to it in the future.

Heck, the twenty Nintendo Entertainment System games the service launches with would cost you a hundred bucks if you bought them individually from any other systems’ online stores. And there’s only going to be more games added as time goes on. In no time at all, I’m sure we’ll have a whole slew of classic games with added online play to enjoy. Just imagine getting Nintendo 64 games with online play some day… I like the sound of that!

If you’re upset over the change with Switch Online, that’s okay. You have every right not to like it and be angry. But at the same time, you shouldn’t let your hate blind you to what the service can bring to players. What it offers at the moment may be on the slim side, and it may even feel like a downgrade in some respects. But give it some time, and give it a chance to grow and change for the better. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t known this was coming since the Switch launched. I figured a year and a half would be enough time to prepare for it.

Nintendo Switch Online is most likely not going anywhere, so it’s something we’ll have to get used too. I already have my first year of service payed for, so I’m going to try and enjoy it. And I hope you do as well!

Until next time, keep gaming, my friends! Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the matter, and if what I have to say on the subject makes any sense. But for now, Sparky is signing off!

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Smash Bros Character Checklist: The F-Zero Series

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Unfortunately, we must once again talk about what could have been, rather than what could be. Because much like my Star Fox character pick, my F-Zero pick was de-confirmed almost immediately upon Smash Ultimate’s official reveal at E3. It’s almost appropriate, considering the poor unfortunate soul that is the F-Zero series.

While I’m not the hugest fan of the high-speed futuristic racing titles, I would be crazy not to admit how much fun F-Zero is. My favorite is F-Zero X, and it’s one of the most impressive racing games of its era. The amount of speed and action that they made the Nintendo 64 produce from that little game cartridge is an amazing feat. But regardless of how impressive its games might be, it hasn’t prevented the series from falling on very hard times.

The most recent full release in the series is F-Zero Climax, and Japan-only title for the Game Boy Advance. The game was released in 2004, and the series has been on a fourteen year hiatus since then. Fans are always eager to hear from Nintendo about a new F-Zero game, but aside from appearances in Nintendo Land and Mario Kart 8, there is only silence coming from the Big N on the status of the series.

As if to reflect this, to this day Captain Falcon remains the only representative of his home series in Smash Bros, despite being one of the original twelve characters in the first Smash game. And its odd too, considering the absolutely HUGE cast of characters F-Zero has to pick from. F-Zero X alone had a roster of 30 racers and vehicles, and the number only grew from there.

But this leads to the question of who to pick for Smash Bros. Much like the Captain himself, there’s very little reference material to go off of when it would come to building a Smash moveset for an F-Zero racer. After all, most of the action they experience takes place behind the wheel of a vehicle. They would more or less have to be an original character to Smash, and it would take a lot of work to build a play style for them. But honestly, I thought of the perfect one!

One of the original F-Zero pilots from the SNES, it’s the one and only Samurai Goroh!

CharacterChecklistGoroh

But like I said, this is a discussion of what could have been. Goroh has been an Assist Trophy in every Smash game since the concept was introduced. And unfortunately, Smash Ultimate is no different. It’s really a shame too, because I think he could make for a unique character.

Of course, sword-wielding fighters are no strangers to the Smash series. Some even argue that there are too many of them, and adding Goroh to the mix would only make people angry. But you could easily add a twist to the character that would make him vastly different from every other sword user.

When summoned as an Assist in Smash, Samurai Goroh will run and jump around, haphazardly swinging his sword at anyone and anything. And THAT is what would make him a great playable fighter. While most sword users in Smash sport elements of skill, technique, and grace with their movesets, making Goroh completely wild and angry, or even a little silly and clumsy, would be a perfect way to make him his own character.

Just imagine something like King Dedede, a character that sports both brute strength and several goofy elements to his play style and animations. Now take away his hammer and give him a katana, and you’re all set! You’ve got a fantastic concept for a sword-wielding fighter that doesn’t blend into a cast filled with Links and Fire Emblem characters with Down-B Counters.

Sadly though, the day that we might see Goroh get promoted from an Assist Trophy to a playable character will have to be some other time in the future, continuing the trend of abusing F-Zero. And you know what the worst part of all this? I meant to post this BEFORE I posted the Earthbound Character Checklist, and I forgot. Even I’M being mean to F-Zero! It was completely unintentional, I swear!

Well, before any die-hard F-Zero lovers come at with torches and pitchforks, I’m gonna skedaddle. Be sure to let me know what you think of my idea! Sparky is signing off for now!

Smash Bros Character Checklist: The Earthbound Series

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Like most fans of the series, I’m always eagerly hopeful to hear more about the Earthbound series, also known as the Mother series, from Nintendo. Earthbound on the Super Nintendo is a fantastic, quirky, strange, and even emotional game. Some may call it overrated, but it’s by far one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played.

While the series only has three games under its belt and fans outside of Japan had been left wanting for more Earthbound content for a long time, the past few years have been good to the series. Earthbound finally got a digital re-release on the Wii U and New 3DS, as well as a spot in the SNES Classic Edition’s lineup of titles. And for the first time ever, the original Mother game, going under the new name Earthbound Beginnings, was given a official release overseas. It was 25 years late in its arrival, but a game series that great is worth waiting for!

And speaking of waiting, fans are STILL waiting for an official translation of Mother 3 to be given to us. Nintendo knows we want it, and they’ve known it for years. But we wait, and wait, and wait, and no official announcement seems to be coming. But I for one am willing to wait patiently, as I can get my Earthbound fix with the other two games, as well as regular content from the series in the Super Smash Bros titles.

Of course, Earthbound hero Ness was one of those characters in the original Smash Bros where I had no clue who he was at first. It wasn’t until many years later that I gained a true appreciation for the series. Once Lucas joined the Smash line up in Brawl, my knowledge of the series had grown, and it peaked my interest in playing as the Mother duo. Because of this, Lucas is now my secondary main fighter (right after Yoshi) in every Smash game he’s shown up in.

But then comes the subject of adding more Earthbound characters to the Smash Roster. The most obvious choice would be the Earthbound Beginnings protagonist Ninten. But making him an individual fighter from Ness and Lucas would be an issue, considering Lucas IS already a partial clone of Ness. Creating a third character that has the same kind of play style would be almost redundant, but making Ninten an Echo fighter of either of the existing Earthbound reps is always an option.

But what about picking a DIFFERENT character from Earthbound Beginnings? The game does have several other protagonists. There’s Lloyd, Ana, Teddy, and even Pippi. And while I’m sure any of them could make for an interesting inclusion in the Smash roster, I feel like none of them really have enough support and popularity behind them to include them as playable fighters. So if not any of the heroes, then who could be brought in to represent the first Mother game? Well… how about the main villain?

Coming from beyond the stars to take over the planet, its the cosmic destroyer Giygas!

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Okay, I’ll be completely honest. I have no idea how Giygas would play in Smash. I really have no conceivable idea of what his moveset could be. I don’t even really know what you would make him LOOK like. The guy doesn’t even have any official art of any kind, the sprite above being the only existing visual reference I know of. All I know is that I want this to happen so very badly.

Including Giygas in Smash would be a case of essentially having to build a character from the ground up, seeing that there’s very little to work off of from his source games. Much like Captain Falcon, the Ice Climbers, or the Duck Hunt Duo, what Giygas could end up doing in Smash would be almost completely original to the character.

Of course, you could pull some reference from the different PSI powers used in Earthbound, since Giygas is known to use them as well. But there is one other point of  interest for a moveset that could be drawn from: the Legendary Pokemon Mewtwo. It’s thought that Mewtwo was inspired by Giygas, specifically his form from Earthbound Beginnings. They do share some physical similarities, and they both have psychic powers of course. While I wouldn’t want Giygas to be an Echo Fighter of Mewtwo, it could be possible to draw some inspiration from how Mewtwo operates in Smash in order to create a playable Giygas.

But even if deciding a moveset for the character would prove to be difficult, there is one part of it that I absolutely know how it should work: his Final Smash.

Picture this: Giygas traps you with his PSI, and the screen starts to warp, morphing into the familiar black and red nightmare from the end of Earthbound. Then, a text box pops up on screen saying “You Cannot Grasp the True Form of Giygas’ Attack!”, and your fighter is then promptly erased from existence (or at least they would be at high damage).

That idea for a Final Smash is almost the sole reason that made me think of Giygas being a playable fighter. And it’s just so perfect, that I DESPERATELY want it to be a reality.

What do you think? Do you like my idea? Do you think I’ll get my wish? Or do you think my idea is about as likely as Mario being cut from Smash Bros all together? Let me know! But for now, Sparky is signing off. See you next time!

The 64 Showcase: Mario Tennis

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Mario Tennis Aces just came out, so it’s time to celebrate its release with a video that ISN’T about it! The latest 64 Showcase is all about Mario Tennis! And as it turns out, it’s a bit of an intense game!

Be sure to let me know what you think! And why not check out my YouTube for some other gaming related videos as well? It’ll be loads of fun, I promise!

 

Smash Bros Character Checklist: The Pokemon Series

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If there is any one thing that you know is going to happen in a Smash Bros, it’s that we’re going to see at least one new character from the Pokemon franchise. With a game series that can add literally hundreds of new potential Smash combatants with every installment, it would be a huge shock if we DIDN’T see a brand new Pokemon on the roster.

After all, each installment of the Smash series has added at least one Pokemon to the fighting lineup. The original Smash Bros on Nintendo 64 gave us Pikachu and Jigglypuff. Melee brought Pichu and Mewtwo to the fray. Brawl introduced the Pokemon Trainer trio and Lucario. And Finally, the Smash 4 series had Greninja join in. So naturally, since a new generation of Pokemon was given to the world between the release of Smash 4 and the announcement of Smash Bros Ultimate, it only makes sense that a Pokemon from those games will drop in on the Smash Bros scene.

But with the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, there are 85 Pokemon from the Alola region to choose from. Picking just one to go into Smash Bros is no easy task! But there are two important factors that go into choosing a Pokemon character: how popular they are, and how unique they are compared to other Pokemon.

Charizard was always an immensely popular in the Pokemon fandom, so it felt natural that eventually he became playable alongside his fellow Generation 1 starters. Likewise, Lucario was also a really popular Pokemon, and was a head-lining mascot of sorts for Generation 4, with his own title movie and the unique attribute of using Aura. And while Greninja was actually brought to Smash while Generation 6 was being developed, he also turned out to be a popular pick with a cool gimmick of combining ninja abilities with water that was built on for his Smash Bros appearance.

So what would be the Generation 7 equivalent to those three? A popular Pokemon with a unique gimmick that could be expanded on for a Smash Bros moveset? Well, look further then the Grass and Ghost Type archer owl, Decidueye!

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Remember how I said in my Zelda Character Checklist that I had my reasons for not picking Revali as the Zelda Champion to be in Smash? Well, this is why. There’s only room for one arrow slinging archer avian in Smash Bros, and if I had to choose between the two, I would pick Decidueye in a heartbeat.

With it’s signature move Spirit Shackle (a perfect candidate for a Neutral-B Special), Decidueye uses its own wing and feathers as a bow and arrow, a technique that makes it an individual among all 807 Pokemon. Using its feathers as weapons opens up a ton of potential for an awesome Smash Bros moveset, and I would absolutely love to see what kind of insanity could be brought to the battlefield alongside Decidueye.

And of course, since he’s a Pokemon, Decidueye has a good number of special moves that can be brought to Smash as well. The move Leaf Blade could make for an excellent addition to any part of Decideye’s set of attacks, perhaps turning its feathers into grassy swords for Smash Attacks. His Up-B could be Brave Bird, letting him take to the air with astonishing speed. His Side-B could be Leaf Storm, tossing a flurry of leaves into the air that then become rapid-fire projectiles. And his Down-B could be Feather Dance, causing feathers to swirl around him, dealing minor damage and providing a temporary attack boost.

And his Final Smash would be his Z-Move, Sinister Arrow Raid. Unleashing a volley of  super powered feather-arrows across the battlefield would be the most fitting choice, after all.

Of course, this is only one potential set up for the character. Given how many different moves there are in Pokemon, Decidueye could theoretically have any number of different moveset combinations. These are just the moves I think would suit the character best in Smash.

Of all the characters I’ve suggested for a Smash spotlight so far, I’m most confident in Decidueye’s inclusion. He’s the perfect candidate: a current, well liked Pokemon with a specialized fighting style suitable for Smash Bros. And I know I’m not the only one who wants him to be included. Plus, his inclusion would complete the trio of fully-evolved starter Pokemon on the Smash roster: Charizard for Fire, Greninja for Water, and Decidueye for Grass.

Honestly, this one is too good of a choice for it NOT to happen. I’ll be buying Smash Ultimate regardless of his inclusion, but this is one character I know I’d be pretty disappointed without.

But what do you think of my pick? Is there a different Generation 7 Pokemon you would want to see included in Smash Bros Ultimate? Drop a comment somewhere and let me know! I do know that another suggestion I’ve seen floating around in Lycanroc in one of his various forms, and I do admit that would be a pretty awesome choice as well.

For right now though, that’s all from me. This is Sparky, signing off!

Smash Bros Character Checklist: The Star Fox Series

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So the Smash Bros Switch announcements at E3 2018 have come and gone, and the new game has a title: Super Smash Bros Ultimate! And the game looks absolutely fantastic! With every character from past Smash Bros games making a comeback, and a few new faces introduced as well (Ridley Confirmed! Called it!), this is going to be the best Smash game ever.

But after everything was said and done, I was left with a problem: My Star Fox character pick was de-confirmed during the presentation!

Granted, the return of Wolf is something to be celebrated. But how to proceed when the character you wanted to show up in Smash is definitely not gonna be in Smash? Well… let’s talk a little about what could have been! There’s no harm in that!

(Plus, I already made the little image to go with the blog post. Might as well use it, right?)

What character was I going to pick? None other than the galactic menace himself, Andross!

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For the past few Smash Bros games, Andross has appeared as an Assist Trophy, taking the form of the giant head seen in the original Star Fox on SNES. And from a brief look in the newest Smash Bros footage, this looks to be the case again. Now imagine a world where he ISN’T a giant floating head, and instead a monkey-man on the battlefield himself..

Andross is of course a man of science, commanding an army from the shadows while preparing the most devious of weapons to destroy his foes. So using all sorts of gadgets to fight would be his forte, of course. I can imagine him summoning an orbital laser or two to attack the ground, and doing things like calling in flying drones and robots to do his fighting. Having a character that indirectly commands OTHER characters would be impressive. Sort of like the Rosalina and Luma team, only much more devious!

And his Final Smash of course would be… well, turning into a giant monkey head! But More like the one from Star Fox 64, rather than the original version seen in Smash now.

And well, that’s really all I have to say on the subject. It feels a bit silly to go into a ton of detail with a character that’s not going to happen. But my picks for the Character Checklist can still hold true for the future: whatever other Smash games may happen way down the line, maybe Andross can show up there instead!

I suppose I could have SOME hope of his inclusion, still. The big Andross head in smash right now is pretty different from the more modern incarnations of the character. If there can be three whole Links playable on the Smash Roster, why not have giant head Andross AND ape Andross in the game together as well?

But as it stands, It’s most likely not going to happen. Oh well, maybe next time! I still have a ton of fun speculating and suggesting what might happen in my favorite game series. So even if a character I pick gets de-confirmed or not (poor, poor Waluigi…), the Character Checklist will continue onward!

For right now though, that’s all from me. Sparky is signing off!

Becoming a Tennis Ace (Mario Tennis Aces First Impressions)

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Since the days of the Nintendo 64, the Mario sports titles have been some of my favorite games. I have a lot of fond memories of playing Mario Golf and Mario Tennis with my family, and Mario Super Sluggers on the Wii is the best baseball game I have ever played. I’m not really into sports in general, but that doesn’t apply when it comes to Mario.

The next entry in the Mario Tennis series, Mario Tennis Aces, is set to launch at the end of June. And to celebrate, Nintendo decided to do a special online demo event, similar to what the did with ARMS and Splatoon 2. The Mario Tennis Aces: Online Tournament Demo (catchy name, right?) gave all the eager fans a chance to play the game together before the release date. And I decided I’d like to talk a bit about it!

Like with my ARMS first impression, this will be divided into a few categories, which will then be divided further into a list of pros and cons. So let’s get started!

  • Graphics and Music

Pro: I love the way this game looks. It’s super pretty and colorful, just like you would expect a Mario game to be! And the new tennis outfits that have been given to some of the characters look super good. After all, playing sports in a plumbers cap and overalls never really did make much sense.

Pro: The music is also really great. There are only so many tracks available in the demo, but they’re all wonderfully put together. I can’t think of a track I haven’t liked!

Con: I don’t have too many negative things to say about this game in regards to its graphics and music. Then again, I’m generally pretty easy to please when it comes to this sort of thing.

I guess one thing I could mention is that while the likes of Mario and Peach now all have appropriate tennis garb, some of the characters still have their normal clothes (or lack of clothes). Toad and Yoshi almost look out of place with their regular designs, and I feel like something could have been done to make them look more in line with the sport. Or would giving Bowser a tennis visor look too silly?

  • Gameplay and Control

Pro: There’s a lot that’s been done to give Mario Tennis Aces a unique feel over its predecessors. Most of the time, the gameplay of a Mario Tennis title would feel basic. You move around and use two buttons to smack a tennis ball back and forth until someone misses, and that’s it. But this time around, the four face buttons on your Nintendo controller are all responsible for using different kinds of swings, giving you more variety and strategy when it comes to how you play your game of tennis.

I’m not sure how this compares to the last couple Mario Tennis titles (Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for the Wii U), since I haven’t had a chance to play them. But as far as this game is concerned, it’s a neat and welcome change to otherwise standard gameplay.

Pro: The strategy of your Tennis game goes much deeper than your controller’s face buttons, however. All characters are now equipped with a shiny new energy gauge and all sorts of fancy new skills! These skills are called Zone Shots, Zone Speed, Trick Shots, and Special Shots.

The R Button (or ZR Button) allows you to use your energy gauge to perform Zone Shots and Zone Speed. Zone Shots are performed while standing inside a Star Icon on the floor of the tennis court (which basically indicates where the tennis ball is going to land). Using a Zone Shot pauses time and brings you into a first-person view, allowing you to aim your shot in any direction you want and launch it off at high velocity, almost guaranteeing a point being scored (or losing a point, since it’s pretty easy to send the ball sailing out of bounds as well). Holding down the R Button will let you use Zone Speed, which slows down time and lets you move to a spot where you can precisely counter your opponents moves, including their Zone Shots. Countering Zone Shots comes with a risk however, which we’ll talk about in a moment.

Using the Right Analog Stick (Or double-tapping the X button while holding the Left Stick in a direction) let’s you perform a Trick Shot. Trick Shots let your character move rapidly in the direction you point them, allowing you to catch balls that are sailing by you or are on the other side of the court. Performing a perfect Trick Shot is also a good way to build up your Energy Gauge, but messing up your shot could actually cost you Energy instead.

Lastly, Special Shots are performed by pressing the L Button (Or ZL Button) while your Energy Gauge is full. They are, more or less, a guaranteed Zone Shot that can be performed at any time, as long as the ball is in your side of the court. They also come complete with super fancy animations that are unique to every character, and are just pretty awesome to look at in general.

One final thing to not about Zone Shots and Special Shots is that they can be used to break your opponents racket. Tennis rackets have a 3-Point health bar, and smashing the Tennis Ball right at your opponent and forcing them to counter your shot can drain one of those hit points (or all of them, in the case of a Special Shot). Once their supply of rackets is gone, they can no longer play and you get an automatic victory. But of course, with proper timing, a Zone Shot or a Special Shot can be blocked, and they can be immediately countered with another Special Shot. If your shot is blocked, it basically renders your attempt to break your opponents racket null and void. And your racket is just as easily breakable, so learning the timing for blocking these shots is critical! Using Zone Speed to slow things down helps a lot when it comes to blocking.

Con: With as long as I rambled on about about the new mechanics just now, you can tell there is a lot to learn when it comes to mastering your tennis game this time around. There was always something beneficial and satisfying about the simplicity of the previous Mario Tennis games. While playing the demo, there were moments where I had a difficult time trying to break that mindset of the simple gameplay I was used to, forgetting I had so much more to work with. So I can see where changing up the gameplay as much as it has been could be an issue for old AND new players.

Though at the very least, the devolpers thought of this outcome. You can also play the game with simple rules as well, making it more like the original Mario Tennis style. I’m not sure if simple rules can be applied to all of the full releases content, but having the option for some basic tennis fun is welcome.

  • Online Play

Pro: Of course, the entire point of an online tournament is to play online with people. I had never played an online-compatible Mario Tennis beforehand, so playing the game with people from around the world was a new experience for me.

The tournament feature itself was well thought out. Rather than being placed into a tournament bracket and being forced to play games until you lost one, you were free to play and stop playing whenever you felt like it. Your tournament progress would be saved until the next time you played, where you would be randomly matched up with another player who was at the same point in the tournament as you were. For example, if you were in a semi-finals match, your opponent would also be at the same spot in their tournament, so you were both on even ground. I liked that a lot, as it didn’t tie you down to dedicating your time towards a long gameplay session. I’m not sure if this is how it will work in the full release as well, but it would be nice if they carried this over to the main game.

Con: Unfortunately, that’s where the nice things I have to say about the online play have to stop. I’m usually not super critical if a game has poor online, since I don’t play games online a lot. I much prefer single-player games and local multiplayer. But holy crap, the online play in Tennis Aces is garbage.

Of all the matches I attempted to play, I didn’t end up playing many because of how bad the connections to my opponents were. I did not get a single game in where the lag wasn’t unbearable. I’m talking a full second of time between you pressing a button and your character actually performing the action. There was constant stuttering, and I was essentially unable to properly play because I couldn’t control my character right. It was BAD. Where the ARMS demo provided me with some of the best online play I’ve ever experienced in a Nintendo game, the Mario Tennis Aces Online Tournament was by far the worst.

Granted, I have gone on record before saying that I have terrible internet (a problem that should hopefully be fixed in the upcoming months). My connection problems could have completely been my fault. But I have NEVER had such a consistently awful time trying to play a game online before. I can play Smash Bros and Mario Kart with little to no issue, and I play Team Fortress 2 quite regularly with minimal problems. Also, It could have also just been an issue with the Demo in general. Maybe the full game won’t be quite as bad, and maybe things will improve once Nintendo Switch Online launches later in the year. But overall, I’m probably going to be avoiding playing this game online.

  • Conclusion

Overall, Mario Tennis Aces feels like a natural evolution of the the series’ core gameplay and the Power Shots in Mario Power Tennis. But rather than just smacking a ball back and forth, or mashing a button to perform an Offensive and Defensive Power Shot, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into building a managing your energy gauge and using it to change the course of the game. Will you want to use your Zone Shots or Zone Speed as much as possible? Will you risk using your energy to try and master the timing of Trick Shots? Or will you conserve your energy and save up for a guaranteed Special Shot? And will your strategy revolve around playing the game like normal and scoring as many points as possible, or will you try to shake your opponent up by forcing their hand and attempting to break their racket? The amount of options available to the player is staggering when compared to previous Mario Tennis games, and I loved every second of learning these new mechanics. It’s truly an evolution of the series!

True, the actual online component of the Online Tournament was pretty terrible. But overall, I’m really happy with the way Mario Tennis Aces has turned out, and I’m definitely going to pick up the game once its released! Maybe to fill in the time, I could even play some of the other Mario Tennis games I’ve missed out on as well. I do love me some Mario Tennis, after all!

The quality and updates that have gone into Tennis Aces also has be really hopeful for what else could come from the Mario Sports titles. Could we perhaps get a new Mario Golf of Mario Baseball in the same kind of vein? I’m really excited thinking about the future for the series, and I really hope everyone else is too!

But for now, I think I’ve gone on long enough. What did everyone else think of the demo? Do you like the gameplay changes that have been put in place? And did you have the same terrible time I did trying to play the game online? Let me know through some comments! I really want to hear your thoughts on the whole thing!

Until then, Sparky is signing off. I’m off to play some more tennis!