Games in review: The amazing versatility of Nintendo characters
It’s a credit to Nintendo that their unique characters can be adapted for use in game genres that you may not have immediately thought that they were a fit for. On a recent long-haul trip FutureFive’s Darren Price revisited a couple of these genre-hopping Nintendo Switch games.
When you think of Mario, you think of a jolly, if a bit portly, plumber, jumping around. A tennis superstar doesn’t really come to mind.
Mario Tennis Aces is a great tennis game in its own right. Players get to enter tennis tournaments with their favourite characters from the Super Mario games. Players can choose from a number of classic characters such as Mario himself, Luigi, Wario, Princess Peach, Yoshi and Bowser, to name a few.
Mario Tennis Aces is a perfect portable game, with its clean visuals looking great on the Switch’s screen. The game also looks great on a TV.
Just as you’d expect from a more mainstream tennis sim, the ball can be lobed and sliced and even sent into a topspin. The game has great ball physics that feel spot on.
With its cartoon visuals is easy to dismiss the game as being simplistic. It’s not. I cursed Luigi for knocking me out of my otherwise impeccable tournament record.
Of course, the game has its own Nintendo twist. The ball can be slowed down, enabling players to hit shots that would otherwise be missed. There are also fancy trick shots to liven things up. If, however, you are not interested in dealing with energy gauges and trick shots, you can switch all these off and just enjoy the game as a straight tennis sim.
The game’s campaign mode was a bit of a struggle for me. As a tutorial, the tennis mini-games do a good job of honing your racket skills, but having sampled the “pure” tennis modes that were I found myself having the most fun. Actually, a lot of fun.
For a more party flavour, the swing mode, where the Joy-Con controllers are swung like tennis rackets, is a lot of fun as well. But best left to indoor play, rather than on a plane journey. I found it a little imprecise, but perfect for a giggle with the family.
The game has an online multiplayer mode, as you’d expect, via the free play mode. Much more exciting, though is the split-screen mode for up to four people (you’ll need some extra controllers, though). You can even play two-player co-op in swing mode (if you have the space).
The 3.1 patch, released two weeks ago, tweaked some character attributes and added some new character and challenges to the game. It’s a credit to Nintendo that they continue to offer this level of support to the year-old game.
Mario Tennis Aces is a great Switch game, but it’s also a great tennis game in its own right. If you missed this one at launch, I strongly recommend you give it a go, especially if you have a long trip ahead and want to pass the time.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is another game that I’m kicking myself for not getting into earlier. Who doesn’t like Zelda games?
This Zelda game is a bit different in that it’s not part of the official Zelda canon. At its heart it’s based on Koei Tecmo’s acclaimed Dynasty Warriors series, featuring the same button-mashing hack-and-slash gameplay, but with a Zelda flavour.
The game is actually a port of the earlier game, originally released on Wii U and 3DS. This version features all the DLC from the Wii U and 3DS version plus some extra content tying into the Switch exclusive, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
The main campaign is Legend Mode. Don’t expect to be drawn into a deep narrative experience. The plot, what there is of it, is there to set up the glorious number of bad guys ready for you to run head-long into. In a nutshell, Hyrule castle has been overrun by the forces of Cia, a corrupted sorceress. Princess Zelda is missing. It’s up to our hero, Link and his companions Impa and Lana to fight Cia’s forces and win the day.
The basic gameplay involves negotiating a map, defeating hordes of enemies and their commanders. At times your allies will call upon you for aid. There are missions that need to be completed, such as escorting a bomb and optional side missions. At any time, you can switch between characters, each with their own abilities and special moves. The battlefield is littered with power-ups to aid you on your quest.
In the campaign you are limited to playing as Link, Impa and Lana, but in Free Mode, you can select three characters of your choosing. Adventure Mode uses a reproduction of the original Legend of Zelda maps as your battlefields. You can choose which original level that you want to play.
Zelda fans won’t miss a beat with the game’s music. As you play you will hear all the musical cues that you’d expect from a Zelda game. A medley of music from the Zelda series plays throughout the game.
Visually, the game is OK, but the levels are a bit bland compared to the very detailed character models. But the graphics are more than adequate for a game that’s really all about chopping down as many monsters as possible.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on the Switch is another game that’s perfect for on the go. The fun but simplistic gameplay provides a welcome distraction from a long plane journey.
Like Mario Tennis Aces, Hyrule Warriors is a testament to the enduring nature of Nintendo’s characters. Even in a game far removed from the usual Legend of Zelda adventures, it still feels like a Zelda game with familiar music, audio cues and wonderfully familiar characters.
Mario Tennis Aces - Verdict: 8.5/10
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition - Verdict: 8/10