Mario Tennis Aces just launched Friday, and players are already dismayed to discover that the game is missing two basic, expected options: adjusting the length of a match and selecting a court on which to play.
Nobody would mistake Mario Tennis Aces for a simulation tennis game, even though it allows players to turn off the new power meter and the fantastical shots it enables. At the same time, people are surprised that of the two scoring systems available in the game, neither one is the real sport’s standard setup.
Mario Tennis Aces offers a “Quick Play” setting, in which matches are limited to a single game with tiebreak rules: The first person to notch seven points wins, although if the game reaches a 6-6 tie, a player must score two points in a row to win. The other choice is “Extended Play,” which does utilize the tennis convention of a set of games, albeit in name only. In this format, a set contains just two games; the first person to win two straight games takes the set, and therefore, the match. (The same two options were available in the previous Mario Tennis game, 2015’s Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, albeit under different names.)
Here’s a basic refresher on regulation tennis scoring. The first player to win six games (with a lead of at least two games) wins a set. If the set score is tied at 6, a 12-point tiebreaker game is played, with the winner having to score at least seven points and gain a two-point lead. Matches usually play out as either a best of three sets (women’s tennis) or a best of five sets (men’s tennis).
It seems that Nintendo and developer Camelot Software Planning wanted to keep Mario Tennis Aces matches moving briskly; even a three-set match can take quite a long time. And it’s true that the game includes a dedicated new mechanic that directly affects match length: rackets that take damage and can break, potentially resulting in an immediate forfeit of the match.
People aren’t necessarily asking for the ability to play with regulation scoring. But in a thread on the Nintendo Switch subreddit that currently has more than 1,400 upvotes, they’re upset that the game doesn’t allow players to determine specific scoring settings like match length and set length. (The Redditor who created the thread said they don’t believe racket breaks are a suitable solution for match length.)
A baffling oversight is that Mario Tennis Aces doesn’t allow players to directly choose which court they want to play on. A stage select feature is common in games like this, but that system works differently in Mario Tennis Aces. The game randomly chooses from the seven available courts, with the player able to deselect courts they don’t like. The only way to play in a specific arena is to manually disable all the other ones, which is a much more annoying setup than a simple stage select feature.
People are already making their voices heard online, with multiple Redditors in the thread saying that they’ve even canceled their Mario Tennis Aces pre-orders because of these omissions. Others say they’ll still enjoy the game but hope that Nintendo will patch these features in. We already know that the company plans to release additional characters over the course of the summer, so updates to address these issues are possible.
For more on Mario Tennis Aces, check out our review.
Update (June 25): A Polygon reader sent in a screenshot from Mario Tennis Aces over the weekend, pointing out that in a loading screen titled “Rules,” the game implies that it is possible to change the number of games in a set or the number of sets in a match.
“You will win a set after winning the number of games chosen in the rules,” reads the loading screen, which you can see below. “When you win the number of sets decided upon, you will win the match.”
The reader speculated that the loading screen is a vestige of these options — that the text suggests the settings might have existed in a development build of Mario Tennis Aces, but were cut before launch. Asked for comment, a Nintendo of America representative denied this in a statement to Polygon, saying that the screen is simply “intended to explain what a ‘set’ is in tennis terms, for those who aren’t as familiar with tennis rules.”
As for the possibility that Camelot Software Planning will patch in options for match length and stage select in the future, the spokesperson said Nintendo has “nothing to announce.”