Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Gameplay Breakdown – Everything We Know So Far

Just what is an “ultra smash?”

The title isn't just for show after all.

The title isn’t just for show after all.

A few days ago, you’ll recall that Nintendo released a short trailer for Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash that introduced some new mechanics and gave us a better idea of what to look forward to next month. However, another trailer just released that blows that one completely out of the water.

With all of the information that’s been released in recent memory, we’ve had a bit of time to get our pre-final thoughts on Mario and gang’s tennis championship, as well as being able to determine how the game will work. With a release scheduled for less than a month from today, here’s everything you’ll need to know about Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash gameplay as well as the rest of what’s going on in the game.

The Ultra Smash

Somebody please explain to me the benefit of having spikes on your tennis racket.

Somebody please explain to me the benefit of having spikes on your tennis racket.

I’ll be brutally honest. When this game was first announced, I had just naturally assumed that the title was just the catchiest thing they could think of at an impromptu meeting. I was then delightfully surprised to learn that it actually means something.

In the game, all players have the opportunity to leap into the air and slam the ball to the other side of the court to try and steal a quick point. This mechanic, called the Ultra Smash (though perhaps a better name would have been the “Sampras slam“), will definitely shake up gameplay a bit, or even cause some friendships to end depending on how effective it is.

Mega Mushrooms!

Peach looks a little too excited to use that shroom.

Peach looks a little too excited to use that shroom.

This was a bit of an interesting turn of fate as far as the Mario Tennis series is concerned. The mega mushroom is venturing its way onto the court to give players a sizable advantage in a similar manner to the Bowser Stage in Mario Tennis 64. While we’ve seen how this item could work effectively in Mario Kart and Super Mario 3D World, it seemed kind of thrown-in at first. However, because Nintendo is allowing more than one character to make use of it at a time, plus a new mode centered around it, this could end up being one of the more memorable parts of the upcoming title.

Donkey Kong, Rosalina, and Yoshi, Oh My!

Back for a rematch, I see?

Back for a rematch, I see?

Nintendo was also kind enough to show us all of the familiar faces that will be strutting around on the tennis courts. In the new trailer they showed off Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Wario, and Rosalina all as players on top of the all-star cast we already have. This comes as no surprise, however, because who didn’t expect all of these characters to be in the game?

The more intriguing part of their reveal was actually what Nintendo didn’t show. Specifically, I’m talking about a brief shot in the the trailer that shows all of the playable characters and four question blocks, hinting at four secret characters. Who could these be? Will they just put in standard bad guys like Shy Guy (no pun intended), or could we see the thieving Nabbit steal his way to the roster? Only time will tell, but here’s hoping Nintendo will take a page out of Mario Party 8‘s book and not be afraid to use some of their more unlikely characters.

The more disappointing aspect of this reveal is that if these are all the characters we’ll be given, then the original Mario Tennis on the N64 will have a greater roster to choose from. Heck, they even included Donkey Kong Jr. back then. I expected some more out-of-left-field characters like that, but I guess we’ll see once the game drops if not before.

Online Functionality

Oh, did I win?

Oh, did I win?

With the online support of the 3DS’s Mario Tennis Open, I would’ve been appalled had this not been a feature with the Wii U counterpart. I mean, not only did the previous entry include this, but it actually worked very well. And with Nintendo’s newfound love for online play with games like Splatoon and Super Smash Bros., it seems like a no-brainer to have it here as well. Because running a tennis match isn’t exactly as graphically demanding as a four-on-four brawl or a massive Splatfest, we have reason to expect that Ultra Smash’s online will run smoothly with few hiccups.

Play Along with Your Amiibo

A leap of faith.

A leap of faith.

It’s no doubt that Nintendo is really capitalizing on the success of their Amiibo. Since the little figures were first announced, the company has promised that they will continue to release games that make use of them. While it could be argued that the in-game functionality for the Amiibo could be better, Nintendo is definitely living up to their word. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash will be able to make use of your adorable figurines.

In this particular game, it looks as if you’ll need Amiibo from the Super Mario Bros. lineup to start. Then once you scan it, you’ll be greeted with an AI partner to help you on the tennis court either locally or online. Better yet, as the Amiibo plays each match, you have the option of upgrading its stats to be a better player to crush all of your friends with no mercy. Unfortunately, this is about all the Amiibo are good for. Personally, I’d like to see more unlockables like with Yoshi’s Woolly World and Mario Kart 8.

What would really make the game awesome, though, is Amiibo support on the scale of Super Mario Maker, allowing you to pull in characters from other franchises like Metroid, Animal Crossing, Splatoon, Zelda, and more. This would also answer a lot of questions about the somewhat limited roster.

Different Modes

Back in my day, we had this to look forward to.

Back in my day, we had this to look forward to.

Because this is a Mario sports title, there will naturally be a few different ways to play the game. Thankfully, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is no exception. Along with the main game, there are four different styles to choose from.

  • Mega Battle – This is what we witnessed in the trailer from a few days ago. Mega mushrooms enter the court, and anybody can pick one up to get a size and strength increase to add an advantage to either side.
  • Knockout Challenge – These are for the hardcore players. They are tiebreakers set against some tough AI opponents. Proceed at your own risk.
  • Online Multiplayer – Via the Nintendo Network, you can play a few different modes online (including Mega Battle) against people across the world. You can either do this by yourself, with a local companion, or your Amiibo.
  • Classic Tennis – A callback to the original Mario Tennis on the N64, this is for the purists out there. Things like chance shots, and Ultra Smashes can be toggled on and off, allowing you to play however you like in the moment.

The sad thing is that again, this sequel has fewer options than the original. That being said, the modes have much more diversity this time around. With any luck, they’ll be motivation enough to pour hours into this game.

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