If you want a better chance of reaching the tournament finals, you’re going to need some help along the way.
Now that Mario Tennis Aces is out, players are getting accustomed to King Boo’s bendy slices, Bowser Jr.’s robotic arm that can hit any ball on the court, and the booming forehands and backhands of Bowser and, er, Spike.
So if you’ve just grabbed MTA and you need a hand getting to those crucial semi finals and final matches, here’s some things to take note of.
Remember what all the character types do
There’s six different character types in the game, and beyond the all-rounder role assigned to Mario and Luigi, each character will have something that specifically benefits them.
Anyone playing a tricky character – Rosalina, King Boo – will have an incredibly bendy slice, which can make serves and charged returns difficult to reach. Powerful characters like Wario, Chain Chomp and Donkey Kong will hit their shots harder, and the larger characters have good reach as well.
You’ve got less reach on a Speedy character like Yoshi, but they make up for it by being able to nip around the court more quickly. Defensive characters are the ones you’ll see the most of – Waluigi, Bowser Jr. – as they can charge up slightly earlier, making it easier to build up more metre for those crucial zone shots and zone speed. Defensive characters also receive less knockback than others.
The last character type is Technical (Peach, Toadette). These characters can target the corners of the court much more easily, which can be useful for opening up the court and forcing players to burn more metre to catch up.
Pay attention to each of the court types
The changing courts aren’t just there for show. Each court has a different bounce and ball speed, impacting the effectiveness of different shot types. Drop shots can be devastating on clay courts, whereas shots will fly through quicker, and bounce higher, on Marina Stadium’s hard surface. (If you’re playing on grass, you’ll get good speed off the surface, but less bounce.)
Double tap for a more powerful shot, but don’t overdo it
While you can hold down any of the face buttons to charge up a shot, there’s another alternative: double tapping Y/B/A. The shot will be deeper and faster than a normal shot, but you won’t get any metre charge. It’s a good shot to use when you’re at the net though, particularly if you’ve just drawn an opponent forward with a drop shot. A double tap slice is a good way to finish a point off, and if your opponent burns metre or jumps back quickly enough to return the serve, they’ll be scrambling — meaning you’ll be able to get more charge on the follow-up shots.
Learn proper block timing
The Adventure Mode puts you through the ringer when it comes to blocking: you won’t be able to finish the campaign without getting the timing down pat. But if you’re struggling, there’s a useful tip you can apply.
Whenever a zone or special shot appears on the court, you’ll see a purple blob of light underneath. Essentially, you want to hit the block key (A) when that light reaches your character. You’ll either going to position yourself for the ball to come to you, or you’re going to run towards the ball and block it from there.
If you’re blocking special shots, keep in mind that you’ll be knocked back a fair while – so you’ll want to run forward. If your metre is fully charged, you can also block a special shot with a special shot of your own (and you can respond to a charged-up serve this way too). Just keep in mind you’ll be leaving the court wide open by doing this, so prepare to burn some zone speed after in case your opponent replies with a cheeky drop shot.
Get comfortable with trick shots
Trick shots aren’t just a neat way to build metre: they’re an essential component of countering tricky characters like Boo, who like to open up the sides of the court as much as possible. The tutorial in the Adventure mode, and the “practice advanced shots” in the “How To Play” menu, offer some visual guidance on the range and arc of trick shots.
The main advantage of trick shots, though, is in building energy. Used incorrectly, trick shots cost energy – but when you get the timing down, it’s the fastest, and most effective way to gain energy.
The game teaches you to use trick shots to reach balls on the opposite ends of the court, but you can also use trick shots to vault forward towards the net. Once you’re there, you can charge up a shot to respond – but you can also use trick shots to jump backwards, allowing you to build more metre off balls that are hit directly towards you.
Doing this over and over again will ensure that you always have more charge than your opponent, which is the key to winning matches against better opponents. One important thing to note is that each character’s trick shot timing is slightly different, so you’ll want to practice that a little.
Know what each charged shot does
If an opponent returns the ball with less charge than yours, a star will appear on your side of the court. Pressing R when you’re in the star allows you to do a zone shot, which is great, but sometimes you just want to pound the ball back in the other direction.
If you’re hitting a fully charged flat shot, the ball will be a lot faster. Drop shots will land closer to the net, and bounce a lot less (even on a hard court). Lobs on a star shot will have a huge amount of curve, while topspin shots will bounce much, much higher. A slice on a star shot will also have a tighter curve, which is super handy if you’re playing as Rosalina or Boo.
Learn the counters
There’s a basic rock-paper-scissors to each of the main shot types, and they have a specific colour trail so you can spot what’s coming. In general: flat shots have a purple trail, topspins are coloured orange, while slices have a teal-ish blue. Drop shots have a white trail, and if a character has to reach to get something, there’ll be no trail at all.
In general, the counters affect how far a character is knocked back (with defensive characters being knocked back less in general). Flat counters flat; topspin shots counter slices, and slices counter topspins. It’s pretty straightforward. You’ll want to factor in whether the counter is worth it though: non-tricky characters don’t get any great advantage on their slices, for instance, so there are times when the shot you need is more important than the amount of pushback.
You can cancel any charge with L
This is especially helpful if you’re at the net and get lobbed, since it’s not uncommon to charge a shot in advance only to find out that you’re about to lose the point. If you ever need to cancel a charge, you can just hit L or the plus/minus buttons, but L’s a lot easier to hit.
One of the most common unforced errors comes from charging up a shot preemptively, only to get caught out of position. A quick tap of L will get you back on track, and if you’re really in trouble, a quick burst of zone speed should keep the point alive.
Don’t forget you can serve with a zone shot
Having trouble trying to damage your opponent because you both just keep saving metre to defend against each other? Then you might want to try using a zone shot on your serve. Simply hit R while waiting to serve and your character will toss the ball higher, allowing you to smash a super powerful serve into the corner or down the middle. It’s especially useful against players that like to wander closer to the net for that first return, since it’ll force them to use metre.
Another form of taunting: playing a character that holds their racket in between their teeth.
You can get a bit of extra power on your shot by hitting a shot button before your opponent hits the ball, either during play or before they serve. Note that you have to wait for the animation to finish, however, which makes it particularly risky during serves: if the opponent starts serving while you’re taunt animation is going, you won’t have any time to charge up a return shot. (You could double tap instead, but you won’t gain any metre from that.)
You don’t have to put up with one-bar games
Every time you search for a game, you get ten seconds to see the state of your opponent’s connection. If it hasn’t shifted from that dreaded single red bar, don’t accept the match – just hit B and search for someone else.
If all else fails, play simple mode
Simple mode is Mario Tennis without the fancy moves and energy metres, which is great if the timing of trick shots frustrates you too much. I’d use Simple Mode first if you’re just playing at home with friends, especially if they haven’t played the game before. Don’t forget: hitting R in simple mode gives you a dash that you can use to reach the ball, although there won’t be any power in the shot. It’s better than losing the point, though.
So those are some tips to get you through the early rounds of Mario Tennis Aces tournaments. How have you found the game so far, and what tips do you have?