Nintendo’s never been great at building online modes, especially for its more competitive games. It’s beyond frustrating trying to voice chat with friends in Splatoon 2 or waiting for Salmon Run to be on schedule. But during its first trial period, Mario Tennis Aces seemed like it could be the rare Nintendo game with painless online multiplayer.
Mario Tennis Aces’ centerpiece tournament mode gave me everything I wanted from online play: fast matchmaking, quick loading times and a competitive structure that was easy to follow. Pre-selecting characters cuts down any time spent waiting around, and the familiar tournament bracket simplifies watching your progression. Working my way toward the finals was both satisfying and snappy.
Just as satisfying was that the demo not only packed in five playable characters from the start, but it also allowed you to unlock an additional five as you played. The stick and carrot of both trying to win your bracket while racking up points to unlock new characters is a clever, catchy loop — one that kept me playing the Mario Tennis Aces trial for two days straight.
Nintendo’s satisfying online games make up an incredibly short list. But I love how this demo managed to nail the most important aspects of online play. Being able to hop in and out of games quickly while having a good sense of progression isn’t an online experience I typically associate with Nintendo games. Usually, I’m spending more time trying to set up a game rather than playing it. Mario Tennis Aces left me excited to see what the full game will have to offer when it launches on June 22.