9 essential Mario Tennis Aces tips to know before you play

Smashing a racket in Mario Tennis Aces

Mario Tennis Aces is finally here, and brings with it the first Adventure Mode since the days of the Game Boy Advance with Mario Tennis: Power Tour. But actually, there are a lot of new features to explore and discover when it comes to every single match in Aces, especially when it comes to the new power gauge and its associated moves. So, to help you get started, here are our top Mario Tennis Aces tips to help you get started:

1. Quickly learn what each shot does and you’ll be winning in no time

All of your basic shots are mapped to the Switch’s face buttons, and in order to be on top of your game, it’s good to learn what each one does and how best to use them all to your advantage. On A you’ve got your Topspin, which is a fast shot with a high bounce. There’s the Slice on B, which is great because, although it doesn’t bounce as much, it has a distinct curve that you can control with the left joystick and maneuver the ball past your opponent. The Flat shot is on Y, and it’s the fastest of all the regular shots, making it incredibly useful for slamming balls across the court. 

Particularly useful though are drop shots and lob shots, which both sit on the X button. To do a drop shot, pull the left joystick towards you as you hit X, and it’ll bounce the ball close to the net on the opponent’s side of the court, forcing them to run forwards if they want to return it. The lob shot is the opposite though. Pull one off by pushing the left joystick up as you hit X and it’ll go to the far end of the court with a high arch, over your opponent’s head. These two shots are incredibly tactical moves to have in your arsenal. 

2. There’s a Rock, Paper, Scissors kind of relationship for standard shots

Pulling off a Zone Shot in Mario Tennis Aces

Another little tip for making the most of every swing is to know that there’s a way to return that will reduce the push-back you’ll get from your opponent’s shots, especially when they’ve sent you a Max Charge Shot. It’s not quite Rock, Paper, Scissors, but… close enough. Flat shots counter Flat, Top Spin and Slice shots must be used against each other to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Don’t forget each one has a distinctive ball trail too, so you’ll know what your opponent’s just fed you - Slice is blue, Topspin is red and Flat is purple.

3. You don’t have to have energy to utilise the star power

Whenever a star appears on your side of the court, you might think that you’ve missed an opportunity to pull off a Zone Shot thanks to your lack of energy. Well, you can actually use a star’s power whenever you see one, thanks to the Star Shot power, which uses no energy at all. When you see a star, position yourself inside it, and then hold down Y to unleash an extra powerful Star Shot for your opponent to attempt to return. Just watch them try. 

4. Pulling off a trick shot doesn’t cost energy

A trick shot in Mario Tennis Aces

Don’t forget, pulling off a trick shot doesn’t actually cost any of your energy, but rather adds to your gauge. You can perform one by pushing the right joystick, or pushing the left joystick and tapping Y twice quickly. Not only do they look impressive, they’re quick reaction techniques for a ball on the other side of the court, and build your energy rapidly too. 

5. Really think about where you aim your Zone Shot

As soon as your energy gauge hits the yellow and that star starts spinning, it’s so tempting just to hit R and pull off a Zone Shot. But, before you start power shotting all over the place, take a second to think about your tactics first. With a Zone Shot you have one of two options. 1) Aim directly at your opponent in an attempt to weaken, and eventually snap, their racket. 2) Use those extra precious seconds to aim at a point on the court that would be near impossible for the opponent to return the ball. They’re both viable options, but the latter is a good tactic to save for when every set point is precious. 

6. A Special Shot doesn’t work the same way as a Zone Shot

A Special Shot cinematic from Mario Tennis Aces

When your energy gauge is full and glowing blue you can pull off a wonderful, incredibly cinematic, Special Shot that seems to offer the same pros and cons as a Zone Shot. However, be careful, as it doesn’t work in exactly the same way as a Zone Shot when it comes to aim and slowing time. The Zone Shot allows you to precisely aim at your opponent in an attempt to break their racket. If you do the same with a Special Shot, you’ll miss them entirely. A bit like taking wind and range into account with a sniper rifle in an FPS, you’ll have to aim just left or right of an opponent (depending on which way you think they’re going to move) in order to be in any chance of hitting them. 

7. You can serve with a Power Shot

When you’re serving, if your energy gauge is in the yellow, you can actually serve using a Power Shot simply by pressing R after you’ve tossed the ball. Just be careful though, as although it’ll let you position your shot perfectly, you might be at a disadvantage for the return shot. 

8. Learn the strengths (and weaknesses) of each character to excel in every mode

Outside of the Adventure Mode, there are 15 playable characters to choose from in the various other modes and each one has their own distinct personality that you’ll need to learn both in terms of knowing how to play them and play against them. Mario’s your go-to all-rounder, but even those who are similar to him have their own perks, like Luigi who tends to play better closer to the net. Other examples include Waluigi and Bowser Jr. having higher defense, Yoshi and Toad are much more nimble on the court, and Spike and Chain Chomp are much more powerful. Also, can we just mention how adorable Chain Chomp is to play, especially as he holds the racket in his mouth? Best boy. 

9. You can turn the power shots off for a more traditional experience

If all the gubbins with power shots and energy gauges ruins the Mario Tennis experience for you, don’t fret. You can turn it all off in the modes outside the main Adventure. Just toggle the ‘Simple Mode’ and all of that can be gone, leaving you to focus on your shots alone.

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.