Almost immediately I was confused by what the game was offering. The opening menu had a couple modes, but they all seemed incredibly similar. You have the Mega Battle, which looks to be the mainstay of the game where you'll face off against opponents in single or doubles games with the mega mushroom added in. The mega mushroom is thrown in from the sidelines and makes you or your opponent supernaturally large and more powerful. The other modes are all variations of this one mode with classic tennis removing the mushroom, mega ball rally having you and an opponent volley the ball back and forth to earn coins and knockout challenge having you play against opponents until you lose. In previous installments of games, there was a lot more to do besides just playing tennis. Sure, this is a tennis game and if you look at it from that point of view, it covers it bases well and includes a number of deviations from the normal tennis game to warrant a look, but if you're looking for the silly modes and the extras that were always fun to play when you got tired of regular tennis, sadly, you'll need to revisit older installments of the series.
|Mushrooms increase your size|
Depending on what mode you pick will determine what the gameplay actually looks like, but as mentioned earlier, the differences are few and each is basically a carbon copy of the others with very small details changed. The one major mode that is different is online play. Online play allows you to go solo against others around the world or invite friends to play doubles matches. It's a serviceable feature, but if you have friends who also play the game, you won't be able to tell if they are online because there is no real friends list. As I was playing the game early, none of my friends had the game so most of my playtime was spent in solo matches against others where I promptly got my butt handed to me (apparently I'm not very good at this game.) The online play was fine with no connectivity issues. If you're looking for Mario Tennis online, you'll fine it here.
|The games's main menu|
Besides tennis only modes, there is an unlockable/rewards section. In this section, you can work to unlock 25 things in game which range from unique character changes to new courts. You'll be spending your coins here most of the time and the added area is welcome, but seems extremely shallow. I would have loved to see more content open up or more items become available besides the standard 25 unlocks. There comes a time in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash when you really feel like you don't have anything to do outside of just the basic modes. Having more unlockables would have been a simple addition to keep players going.
|Ultra Smash is a beautiful game|