Earlier this week, I shared with you the debut trailer for Hot Shots Tennis for the PSP. There doesn't seem like a better time to show off a review of the original Hot Shots Tennis for the Playstation 2 than now. Well, perhaps during the U.S. Open would have been a good time as well!
Sony and Clap Hanz team up once again for another Hot Shots title. However, this time the crew is tackling a new sport-- tennis. While not serving aces, Hot Shots Tennis does an adequate job of taking a deep sport and giving it enough accessibility for almost anyone to enjoy.
While there aren't a wide variety of modes for players to sink their teeth into, what Hot Shots Tennis does offer is amusing enough. The meat and potatoes of the Hot Shots Tennis main course is Challenge Mode. By winning a set number of matches, players rise in the ranks whilst unlocking one of fourteen characters from the experienced Suzuki to the Australian Carol, new tennis courts, new costumes for unlocked athletes, and brand new umpires who call each tennis match. There are numerous ranks to unlock in Challenge Mode each with harder opponents and larger match lengths. Most matches have certain stipulations such as only being able to dive into the original pool of characters to having the camera stuck in its original position. Later matches can generally be a pain in the tennis balls as the AI will destroy you if you don't know what you're doing. Couple this with accidentally not hitting the ball over the net, and it can get quite frustrating having to deal with the AI and your own mistakes. However, dedicated tennis players can actually complete this mode in a day or two if they really desired to. Couple this with there not being an online mode (which Hot Shots Golf Fore possessed) the single player element of the game dries up rather quickly.
Hot Shots Tennis isn't an overly complex game, but as previous Hot Shots titles have shown there's a lot of depth in what seems to be a shallow pool of gaming water. The title utilizes three main buttons-- triangle, X, and circle. X hits a top-spin shot, circle does slices, and triangle performs lobs. Using these buttons in conjunction with the analog stick or directional pad points to where on your opponent's side you wish the ball to be hit. This doesn't always work out the way you'd like it to, but for the most part this function works rather well. If a player lobs the ball into the air either intentionally or accidentally (swinging too soon or too fast), the other player can scramble to the yellow circle where the ball will fall and perform a smash-- a super fast serve which can catch your opponent off guard.
The charm of the Hot Shots brand is present and accounted for-- deformed anime characters and vibrant Each character has their own playing abilities, personality, and costumes to be worn (to make up for the lack of a character creation mode). There's over ten different courts with zany locales from the tropical beach of Aloha to the jungle of Wild Green. There aren't any environmental hazards to dodge-- they're simply for aesthetic purposes. Sure, each court's floor is either hard or soft which makes the tennis ball bounce differently, but it's nothing we haven't seen before in a tennis game. With a multi-tap, four players can participate in wacky doubles play which offers some insanely entertaining excitement and fun. However, as mentioned previously there is no online mode which is a glaring omission considering Hot Shots Golf Fore had such a feature in place. Regardless, your typical upbeat graphical style and soundtrack are around as ambiance. Hot Shots vets can even see characters from previous games serving as the audience.
Hot Shots Tennis is an enjoyable first foray into tennis for Sony and Clap Hanz, but there's a lack of modes, customization of characters, and single-player longevity. If you have a friend (or friends with a multi-tap) you'll most likely enjoy the title more than someone without. A dedicated player can fly through the main Challenge Mode in a rental session, and without any friends to play locally with there's really nothing to do afterward. Hot Shots Tennis is currently only $29.99, but it's basically a last-gen price for last-gen standards.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.5/10] - Good. Worth a rental at the very least. Hopefully a sequel will fix the glaring problems of Hot Shots Tennis.