A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is a simple sports game suitable for a broad audience. It's exceptionally easy to pick up and play; its male and female characters compete on an even level; and -- aside from the occasional ball bouncing off Mario or Peach's head, leaving them a bit dazed -- there is no violence to speak of. And with support for up to four players locally, it facilitates competitive and cooperative play in a positive social environment. Note that though online play is supported, there is no support for voice or text communication. Keep in mind, too, that this game supports Nintendo's Amiibo figurines, which are sold separately. It also highlights a lot of characters from Nintendo franchises, which could get players interested in additional games.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
MARIO TENNIS: ULTRA SMASH is a cartoonish tennis game that pits a little over a dozen popular Nintendo characters -- including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and more -- against each other in singles and doubles matches. There's no career mode, character progression, story, or tournaments. Instead, players choose from a handful of mostly single-match modes; adjust match parameters such as court surface, number of games, and sets; then face off against computer-controlled opponents, friends in the same room, or anonymous players online. Each character has his or her own style (speed, power, defensive), but all can hit the same types of shots, including smashes, lobs, slices, and drop shots. Court surfaces -- a handful of which must be unlocked either by completing special objectives (such as engaging in a 100-shot rally) or by spending coins earned after each match -- can change the way the ball bounces or how characters are able to move.
Is it any good?
This character-driven sports title offers up a great, yet shallow, game of tennis. Whether you're playing with rules that permit special chance shots or sticking with the classic, skill-based game, it's easy to hit the shot you want and direct it toward the area of the court where you want it to land. It feels good, and the controls are so simple that just about anyone can learn to play in minutes. And if you can get a friend or three to come over, it can make for a terrific social experience.
Sadly, though, there's little here to keep solo players engaged. Without a career mode or any sort of character progression, the only reason to play alone is simply to practice or earn coins to unlock new courts and characters. After that, playing with computer-controlled opponents gets old pretty quick. The closest thing to a tournament is the Knockout Challenge mode, where players work through a series of progressively more difficult computer opponents in a series of quick seven-point matches. Knockout Challenge is also the only place you can use Amiibo characters (sold separately), who will play as your doubles partners and get better the more you use them. But it's not enough if you plan to play alone most of the time. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash can be a ton of fun for a group of friends, but solo players should look elsewhere to satisfy their virtual tennis cravings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Do you prefer games that can be played in short bursts or those with a long career or story that takes several hours to play out? If the latter, which steps do you take to ensure you don't spend too much time playing in a single session?
Discuss gender roles in games. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash makes its male and female characters equal in skill but different in terms of special abilities, but do you think the abilities assigned to male and female characters were inspired by their genders or their personalities?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Hobbies: sports
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Communication: friendship building
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: November 20, 2015
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship
- ESRB rating: E
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.