Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Tennis 3D (3DSWare) Review

Yesterday I posted my review of Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword. Now we get into another 3DSWare title available on the eShop, Family Tennis 3D. Get ready to be served, SPC reader.

A Sport That's All in the Family

Arc System Works is a name more recognized from its fighting games such as Guilty Gear and Blazblue. However, the Japan-based studio is also recently known for their casual titles appearing on the Nintendo Wii, DS, and now 3DS. Titles such as ARC Style: Soccer, Family Card Games, and now this 3DS tennis game, Family Tennis 3D. Does this more casual-themed tennis title hit a smash of a shot or does it not even cross over the net?

There are eight members of the family to play: the baby of the family Billy, his older sister Sarah, Daddy, Mommy, the cousin who is appropriately named Cuz, Auntie, Gramps, and Nan. Each has their own series of attributes in five categories: Speed, Power, Accuracy, Control, and Gauge (or as the game accidentally writes it, Guage). Each also has their own special shot to be used when the aforementioned gauge is full. For instance, Billy uses the Ballistic Smash which allows him to hit a smash shot much higher and faster than normal. Meanwhile, Daddy means business with his Explosive Lob Drop which is a lob that targets an opponent, and when it makes contact, it blows them aside. When the gauge is full (done by successful rallies), a simple hold of the shoulder buttons near the ball will unleash that family member's special shot.

Billy might be small in stature,
but watch out for his power shot!
As there are eight characters in the game to master, there are six courts to dish out some tennis-themed punishment to your opponents on. Each court has its own ball speed (slow to fast) and bounce (low to high). One court has you playing in a tranquil forested park, another has you slip-sliding around on ice as you try to control your character, while another has you battling on a lunar crater where the ball bounces its highest (as do the family members' jumping abilities). 

Family Tennis 3D offers three modes of play in the main game: Free Play, which offers the ability to set up a game consisting singles or doubles, made up of a given number of games and sets, with whatever characters you want (though you don't get to choose your opponents questionably), and whatever of the six courts you wish; Tournament, which has three difficulties that sends you in a series of four matches (the first three are 2 game, 3 set affairs while the final is always a 2 game, 5 set affair). Winning on the highest difficulty unlocks a congratulations screen for the character you won with in the Gallery menu (this gives the game some much needed replay value); and finally, Minigames, which there are three of.

The minigames in Family Tennis 3D display some creativity in the majority of the excursions. The first, Roulette Rally, has you and your opponent trying to direct the ball across numbered panels on each side of the net. The player that gets the ball past the other opponent wins all the points they have accumulated. The first player to 1,000 wins. Another game is called Human Backboard. The goal of this game is to rally with an opponent. As you rally's length increases, so does the amount of points for grabs. Getting the ball past your opponent means you win the points tallied. The player that gets to 100 first wins. Lastly, Survivor does not cast you on an island with Jeff Probst as your host. No, instead it pits you against opponent after opponent until you lose. The three games deliver some fun for awhile, but one of the game's main problems rears its nefarious head in.

Roulette Rally is my favorite of the three
mini-games within Family Tennis 3D.
This main problem of Family Tennis 3D is the complete and utter lack of any form of multiplayer with human opponents. If you have friends who have a 3DS and want to play with you or friends you would like to get served (see what I did there?), you are out of luck. You are stuck playing with AI opponents across three difficulties. And the AI even on Pro, the hardest difficulty, don't possess the highest computer-controlled brains in a tennis game. I've had it where the CPU just runs past a ball, and into out-of-bounds territory for no reason whatsoever. Sure, it's funny the first few times and gets you an easy point, but when the AI's best does this on a routine basis (once every other game on Pro), it gets ridiculous. I really started wishing I could take on someone of my own skill level.

Family Tennis 3D is meant to be a more casual, laid-back tennis title, and it succeeds in that mission. You can perform different types of shots with the A, Y, and X buttons, giving the ball a topspin shot, a slice shot, and a lob shot respectively. If this gets too confusing for a player, they can switch to Easy Mode in the options menu. Easy Mode makes it where you can still hit slice and lobs shots with the Y and X buttons manually, but using the A button will automatically select the right type of shot for the given playing situation.

When a ball is hit to your side of the court, a dot will appear where it is going to bounce. If you or your opponent are too far away from the ball when it is hit, the family member will dive for the ball, knocking the ball high in the air. This gives you or your opponent a smash opportunity, one that will hit the ball with such velocity that it can be hard to hit back.

Tennis ties the family together, 
but where's the drunk uncle?
The presentation of Family Tennis 3D is all over the place. The visuals won't win any awards, but they are attractive and colorful enough to get by. The 3D is not too terribly great, but it, like the visuals, is serviceable. Thankfully, the load times aren't very long. However, if you're going to have short load times, then Arc System Works, please don't have a lot of text on a loading screen to read, especially if they're helpful hints about your game! It is next to impossible to read paragraphs of text when they go by within seconds! Additionally, something else that might vex players going into Family Tennis 3D is the lack of English voices. Everything uttered in this title is in pure Japanese. It might be charming to some -- I didn't mind it -- but others will be turned off by the high pitched squeals of Billy and Sarah, moreover considering they wouldn't be able to understand them. Finally, I wish there was an option to skip replays. While replays show off an entire point earned and that is nice, it would also be nice to be able to not have to see them if I didn't want to. Yes, it's just a simple button press to forgo a replay, but it adds up over time.

Family Tennis 3D is a pretty good tennis game for casual players as well as more dedicated gamers. Arc System Works's game is a competent arcade tennis romp that contains plenty of charm as well as fun and engaging gameplay. Still, the two biggest quarrels I have with the title is that 1) there is no multiplayer to be found, and 2) a result of #1, the replay value of the game is not too high. That is not even going into the small problems with the AI and the lack of localization in the voices. What you are left with is a tennis title that is definitely not for everyone, but with an open mind (and an open wallet) you will be blessed with a tennis experience that is simple yet deep and rewarding. If Mario Tennis Open let you down, perhaps Family Tennis 3D is the game for you.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

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