Hot Shots Tennis Review

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Graphics: 6.0
Sound : 5.0
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : 7.0
Overall : 6
Review by Kerim Senkal
Alright, its Hot Shots, I gave it a chance, and you should too. Anyone who has played any of the Hot Shots Golf offerings probably has a good idea of what this game has going for it. The term “cutesy” comes to mind. It’s kind of like the video game equivalent of walking into a “Hello Kittie” store. Bright colors, cartoonish characters, sparkles and little bunnies…yes, bunnies, add to an ultimately o.k. game. This is not a game that will call to you when you are out for a drive or at work. It’s not one of those games that you think about when you’re trying to go to sleep. It WILL entertain you while you are playing, and the simplicity of it will satisfy your tennis fix, assuming you have one.

There aren’t too many play options available. Training mode is very basic and straightforward. Matched up against a ball throwing machine, you go through a series of drills and learn some of the fundamentals of the game. Pretty simple, X for a hard topspin shot, O for a defensive shot with backspin, which limits the return possibilities for your opponent, and lastly, ∆ is a lob shot which can bail you out of some tough situations and buy you some time, but gives your opponent the chance at a power shot. The left analog stick has a lot of responsibility. Direction your player moves, aim for your shot, AND, any curve or spin on the ball. If this sounds like a lot for just the analog stick, it is. I thought that the R1 and L1 buttons would make more sense for directional spin. Actually, I never was able to get the hang of curving shots, and never had the need to use it. Fun Time Tennis, is just a weird name for multi-player mode, nuff said.

The meat of the game is in Challenge mode. Start by choosing your player. Not a hard decision because, initially, there are only two to choose from; male or female japanamation style cartoony characters. As you move up the ranks in challenge mode, earning wins in singles and doubles matches, several more characters are unlocked, as well as some alternate costumes and new court locations. The characters are typical Hot Shots, a little bit of ethnic diversity with little personality or uniqueness besides some limited catchphrases. One I liked was an aussie-sounding hipster who, when a match win was impending, would mutter “nice knowin ya” before the serve.

The game play is pretty simple, but reveals a few nuisances. The most notable was the sparkles. Those damn sparkles! When your opponent serves, there is this big sparkly flash when they connect with the ball, almost completely obstructing your ability to pick up sight of the ball. It’s especially annoying when you’re facing a strong server, and when you’re on the far side of the court it makes it nearly impossible to see. Another bothersome element is the lobbed ball. In some matches there are markers to show where the ball is going to land, but even with these helpful guides, it is very difficult to get an idea of how close you are to a lobbed ball. Thinking that you are in good position to swing, you realize that the ball is still a few feet in front of you and you end up whiffing futilely at it. One more thing that bugged me a little was trying to hit the ball on the “sweetspot”, here’s where the bunnies come in. If you swing too early a little bunny appears over your head. If you swing too late, a turtle icon appears, and when you nail it in the sweetspot a musical note appears. Why a musical note? I have no idea. There were about 6 or 7 tiers that I went through before being awarded world class status, at which point credits rolled and the game seemed to come to a pretty quick but agreeable end. Then, 12 more tiers appeared, so it seems that Hot Shots Tennis has quite a bit of game to it. I imagine that the opponents get quite tough in the upper tiers. Also, it seemed like there were MORE tiers beyond the 12th.

Considering that developer Clap Hanz has conjured up a few different versions of their popular golf game, one can only assume that this is the first of several tennis titles to come. The plainness of this game reinforces that idea, as it leaves some room for improvement. All in all, if you are playing this game, then you obviously want to play a tennis game. Considering this, Hot Shots Tennis won’t be a huge disappointment. Hey, it’s hitting a ball back and forth, go nuts.