VG Review: Two tennis games
“HOT SHOTS TENNIS”
Sony, for PlayStation 2, rated E for Everyone, $29.99.
“SMASH COURT TENNIS 3”
Bandai Namco, for PlayStation Portable, rated E for Everyone, $29.99.
Tennis is one of those sports that is pretty easy to translate into a virtual medium. Guy hits ball to you. You hit it back. After all, what is Pong but an abstracted form of tennis?
Trying to add a bit of strategy to the game, however — such as firing lobs, drop shots and what-not — can take a bit of skill and finesse on the developers end and make the difference between a decent tennis video game and a stellar one.
Two recent titles — “Hot Shots Tennis” and “Smash Court Tennis 3” — attempt to do just that, though with varying degrees of success.
“Hot Shots Tennis” is a spin-off of the popular “Hot Shots Golf” series. As in those games, you face off against cute, cartoony opponents that gesticulate wildly when winning or losing.
Though the game does require a bit of strategy (hint: aim for the corners) it also is squarely aimed at the casual crowd, with helpful red circles, for example, that show you where the ball is going to land next.
Unfortunately, the isometric perspective seems a tad off at times, making it difficult to determine where you are in relation to the ball, especially during high lobs, helpful red circles aside.
I didn’t mind the simplistic gameplay (the opponents do get tougher as you go on) What I did mind was the sparse amount of play modes and unlockable extras. It seems like a more stripped down version of the “Hot Shots” franchise, cartoon characters and all.
“Smash Court Tennis,” meanwhile, attempts to provide a more realistic feel to the game, featuring such celebrity athletes as Roger Federer, Gael Monfils, Feliciano Lopez and lots of people I’ve never heard of before.
The game is considerably more complicated than “Hot Shots,” with the controls allowing you to make top spins and slices, so it can be difficult at times to remember what button does what.
The real problem with “Smash,” however, is that your shots often feel random. For some reason it’s very difficult to get your shots to hit in either corner of your opponent’s court, and you end up aiming for the middle way too often.
On the other hand, the game does offer more variety than “Hot Shots” in the way of minigames and a career mode, as well as the ability to play other PSP owners.
Overall, I have to confess I prefer the cutesy, arcade pleasures of “Hot Shots” to “Smash Court” despite the game’s flaws. Which game you prefer really depends upon how much of a challenge you’re up for.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007
Labels: video games