Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Instant Sports Tennis (NSW) Rapid Review

SuperPhillip Central introduces a new type of review on the site: Rapid Reviews. As you can probably imagine by the name, Rapid Reviews serve the purpose of being shorter, more contained reviews. Too large to be an SPC Quickie, but too small to be considered an ordinary, traditional-length review. Our first Rapid Review is for a new indie tennis game meant and marketed for a family and more casual audience. However, as you'll see with Instant Sports Tennis, this tennis title--no matter how quaint and cozy it is--is anything but family-friendly for one prominent reason.

A tennis title that goes out of bounds way too often.

I originally played BreakFirst's premiere tennis title for the Nintendo Switch, Instant Tennis, back around the start of 2019. In my review, I said the game was a bit too basic for a player like myself, but understandably so as I wasn't the target audience. BreakFirst is back at it again, two years later, with a more enhanced and updated sequel, Instant Sports Tennis. With more characters, courts, a new campaign, and several engaging mini-games, does BreakFirst's second outing score a smashing ace or a double fault?

Instant Sports Tennis sports two control methods. The first is motion controls, and these aren't executed as if you're actually playing tennis. You don't feel like you're playing tennis with the motion controls; you're simply replacing a button press with a downward motion to hit the ball. Your character moves automatically towards the ball, so this is helpful for beginning players who can't track the ball as well or are unaccustomed to movement on the analog stick. The only thing you control with motion controls on is the direction of the ball being hit, which is done by twisting the JoyCon controller left or right to aim. 

The other control method is traditional buttons controls, which will most likely be the preferred method for more seasoned players. There is the analog stick for movement, the right face button for a normal strike and the top face button for a lob. It's nothing overly complicated, but at the same time it may be a bit TOO basic for those aforementioned more seasoned players. At the same time, this game really isn't meant or being marketed towards that demographic anyway.

That said, despite Instant Sports Tennis being marketed towards family and more casual-oriented players, it leads me to a major issue with the game. The main problem with the gameplay is how ridiculously easy it is to overshoot and aim out of bounds. More times than I care to count I was losing matches, and frustratingly so, not because I was missing shots hit to me, but more because I kept hitting balls out of bounds. 

It was incredibly aggravating and only made me dislike the act of playing this game further. The window is just way too tight, especially when you get to more difficult opponents who can rush across the court quite easily. This means you basically have to aim for the opposite edges of the court, but again, this is way too risky considering how easy it is to strike a ball out of bounds. I guess my point is that if it's so effortless to hit the ball out of bounds for a seasoned tennis game player like myself, how are casual and less skilled players NOT going to be annoyed with this game?

Instant Sports Tennis is a much meatier game compared to the original Instant Tennis. There are more characters to play as, there are various mini-games to play, and there's a quasi-involved campaign to partake in as well. This campaign is a linear affair, essentially presenting the player with various courts, characters, match and mini-game types to play through, as they unlock new content for the base game. Unfortunately, if you're like me (and as a general rule, so help you if you are), you'll probably hit a dead end midway through the campaign because suddenly the jump in difficulty is high. Not so much because the AI is good, but the court is so narrow and it's rather easy to hit the ball out of bounds. I eventually conceded and moved back to Mario Tennis Aces.

So, that sort of shows my and my family's level of engagement with Instant Sports Tennis. It was basically nil--or I guess considering we're talking about tennis here, so I should the tennis term for zero--"love". It's too basic for veterans of tennis video games, and from what I played with my non-gaming family, it's too frustrating and hard for beginners because of how stupidly easy it is to hit a ball out of bounds. While I very much appreciate the obvious strong effort put into this tennis title by the small team behind the game, what you're left with is a tennis game that "serves" a very niche audience. My family promptly decided to return to Mario Tennis Aces for our tennis fun, at least on the Nintendo Switch, and perhaps yours will, too. 

[SPC Says: D+]

A code was received by SPC from the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

No comments: