|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Clap Hanz||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 17, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
I like sports games. When you take the traditional elements of the sports game and make them playful, intoxicatingly simple, and a bit cartoony, I enjoy them that much more. Therefore, when I was younger and trying to find that golf game that hooked me into it without the slightly boring aspect of realism, I found Hot Shots Golf. Immediately, I was drawn into the humor aspect of the game. After all, it's not every day you can pick up a game that is supposed to be a serious sports game and laugh, even if just a chuckle. This instant love of the title has made me anticipate all of the subsequent sequels of the series. Even if they did get a little too serious for me, I knew I could pick them up and expect hours of entertainment as I perfected my game to become a Hot Shot.
Thankfully, the entertainment factor of the Hot Shot series is present in Clap Hanz latest foray into sports. Instead of chip-ins and birdies, we have to hunt for the aces and deuces. Hot Shots Tennis, at its core, will automatically remind you of the golf games. The simplicity in the mechanics of the game is what the fans of the series will be most interested in knowing about. Just like the golf series, any player can join up at any point and do well in the game. This becomes increasingly handy for the players who have not played any other tennis games. Your main button for "attack" is the X button, however, unlike the golf games that gave you a gauge to measure your swing and impact, tennis causes you to rely on your keen sense of time. Without a gauging meter, you are sort of left in the dark about how you will hit the ball. You will have other options for your shots: circle for your slice and triangle for the lob shot. There are also a couple of different stances that your character will take in order to backhand or forehand the ball. The most interesting control of the game is the control you have over the ball; the direction you are holding the analog stick will determine the direction your ball will go. In the beginning of the game, it was a little different to get used to this part of the game, but after a few short matches, the strategy element of the game comes into play. After all, you have nine points on the court to try and smack the ball. It doesn't always work, mainly due to the timing aspect of the game. This doesn't distract from the fun of the game, but it does make it more of a mission for you to master the game, just like all of the Hot Shots Golf titles.
There's some of the other magic that made the golf series so successful, unfortunately not what you might want. You have 14 characters to choose from, 11 courts to challenge your opponents on, and five charismatic umpires to liven up the experience of tennis. There are even a few costumes for you to add a little more personality to your characters. Regrettably, one of the features missing pretty much guarantees your swing to be similar to how it is in the beginning. I'm referring to the capabilities we had in Hot Shots Golf, when we bought a new club our character's stats would be raised in accordance or we could tweak them just a bit; this is not present in Hot Shots Tennis. It is all about the gameplay and how well you master the art of tennis instead of how hard you can hit the ball.
The graphics look really good. It is hard to make that switch from one of the next-gen consoles to the PS2, but the graphics are sound. The environments are about what you would expect from a tennis game, only with a Hot Shots flare to them. Even when you plug in the Multitap to allow an additional two players to join in on the fun, the graphics hold. The sounds are comparable to other Clap Hanz games. The menu music is somewhat nauseating, but pleasant at the same time. The comedic voice-overs for the characters may not be up to snuff at first, however, over time you will find the tennis player and umpires in the same vein of the golf players and caddies. I do miss some of the more eclectic humor I fell in love with so long ago, but what is here is at least amusing.
With the three different ways to play Hot Shots Tennis, including single player challenge mode, the co-op versus mode, and a training mode for those of us that need that extra little bit, the game brings the fun to the PS2. Tennis may not be the game of your dreams, of course golf may not be for others, but I am glad to see Clap Hanz stretch its style and sense of easy gameplay in another field of sports. Even with its faults, Hot Shots Tennis delivers on some of the fan favorite styles of the Hot Shots Golf series. Whether you just want to occasionally pick this game up to replace tennis on Wii-sports to give yourself a break or want to dive into the game to become a tennis master, this is the game for you. Put on your best white outfit and take a seat, because this requires no movement from you, well, except to maybe push aside your opponents as a distraction tactic in multiplayer.
CCC Freelance Writer