From all the advertising around Mario Tennis Aces, I was under the impression that the game would feature an RPG mode akin to the Mario Tennis games on gameboy and gameboy advance. After actually playing the adventure mode (the main single player mode of Mation Tennis Aces), I can definitely say that the so called RPG mode was more of a glorified tutorial.
Right out the gate, the adventure mode starts you off with a literal tutorial stage that teaches you the controls of the game. I can understand why Camelot (the company that made the game) did this because players are dropped into adventure mode when they boot up the game for the first time, but the mode still felt lack luster to me. The amount of hand holding at the beginning dampened my mood towards the single player, but what really frustrated me was that there was no exploration or customization to be found in this adventure mode.
All of adventure mode played out like a cliff notes version of Super Mario Bros 3, but with tennis instead of platforming. I only basically traveled in a linear line where I had to complete the same tennis mini games or matches with only slight variations to their presentation in adventure mode. It was just sad because I was literally completing the same drills from the beginning to the end of the game and I had little other choice than to keep doing these drills if I wanted to progress through the game. I just wish I had a little more variety in what I could have done in adventure mode like in the GB and GBA Mario Tennis games.
Though it was pretty rare, the adventure mode did surprise and engage me in a few spots. All of the 5 or so boss battles in the game were fantastic. Each boss challenged my knowledge of the mechanics of MTA in so many different and interesting ways. I just loved how I needed to balance the use of my tension gauge while also reacting to the various different attacks the bosses threw out to beat every boss. For example, I tried to beat the final boss without using zone speed at all because I completely forgot about the mechanic. So when I finally beat the final boss by remembering to use zone speed, I felt great and I felt that I knew the game better. If the rest of adventure mode were as inspired as the boss fights, then it would have been more of a blast to conquer… though it still wouldn’t be anywhere close to being a RPG…
It was incredibly disappointing that MTA’s adventure mode was nothing like the RPGs in the past Mario Tennis games. I feel Nintendo should have been more honest with their marketing of MTA’s adventure mode and I wish Camelot had put more effort into developing adventure mode as well. Despite these negative feelings, I feel like Camelot made a good base to build off. In the sequel to MTA, I hope Camelot makes an RPG mode in the vein of the GBA Mario Tennis game and I hope they bring the same polish to the game as they did with Mario Power Tennis.