Friday, July 27, 2007

Hot Shots Tennis: A Review

I am actually writing a review of a relatively new game. Trust me, I am as shocked as you are at this development, and it will likely not happen again, because I generally don't buy games the week they come out.

I was struck by the fact that the often spoken adage about not judging a book by its cover is also surprisingly true about games.

Case in point: Hot Shots Tennis. Now, I really enjoyed the Hot Shots Golf series, and when I came across a new sports title from the gang at ClapHanz, well, I thought I was in for a treat. Sadly, it was more like a cruel trick.

The fact that I hadn't heard about the game before I went into the store should have been warning sign number one, and boy, am I sorry I didn't follow my usual procedure of checking out the reviews before buying.

Put it this way: Super Tennis on the SNES is a much better tennis game in nearly every way. I will say that again because it bears repeating: a game from 1991 is superior to this game that was released just last week.

Aside from the graphics and being able to save your progress in the game as opposed to having to use passwords, HST is lacking in every department when compared with its cartoonish tennis forerunner.

Super Tennis had 20 different playable characters, gave you use of 6 buttons on the court to really give you some ball control and had a good cup/career system that included the 4 Grand Slam majors and a slew of smaller fictional tournaments, along with a group of other individual opponents. When compared to that, HST comes off extremely short. It has just 14 playable characters, no overarching career, and the controls are a simplistic 3 buttons. I mean, it really says something that a game is getting utterly shown up so completely by another title that is a decade and a half old. After all, you don't really hear a lot of people who like football saying that Super Play Action Football completely wrecks the new Madden or 2K Sports title or that Bases Loaded for the NES has no equal in terms of baseball gaming. It is that ridiculous, and no, I am not joking. In the parlance of our times, Super Tennis pwns Hot Shots Tennis.

And all the cool equipment that you could get in the Hot Shots Golf games is absent as well, so aside from a few costumes, you are basically stuck with how they come out of the box in terms of performance, and really, that really limits things. As a fan of those games, this tennis-themed offering also pales greatly in comparison to them as well.

It is that great potential that make the finished product so much more disappointing. It could have been so much more than what was released. Perhaps a next generation sequel will live up to the promise of the premise, because while the style and polish is still there, there is very little substance.

One other thing I would like to note. If you are at all familiar with the rules of tennis, you know that a set is composed of 6 games... but somehow that message didn't make it to the ClapHanz offices, as the sets at the beginning of the game are composed of 4 games. So even on that rudimentary point, they got it wrong.

Now, I paid 30 dollars for it and I feel like severely ripped off. I mean, if I had paid 10 dollars for it, I might have been OK with the transaction. As it stands, I am rather miffed that got suckered into buying this title based only on its pedigree. However, if I manage to stop a few people from buying this lacklustre game by writing this review, I will derive at least a little bit of satisfaction from this whole experience.

So my recommendation is simple. If you have both a Playstation 2 and a Nintendo Wii and you are looking for some quality comical tennis action, you would be better served waiting for either Super Tennis or Mario Tennis 64 to become available for the Virtual Console rather than buying Hot Shots Tennis, as both those Nintendo titles are more fun and have far more replay value than this substandard Sony release.


Jess said...

What a shame. Hot Shots Golf was an outstanding series.

MC said...

You are telling me. I personally wish this tennis game was something I could gush about.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was fun how there is a coop career mode!!!!