Hot Shots Tennis

July 23, 2007

Hot Shots Golf is to some the perfect marriage of simulation and arcade style golfing, delivering an experience that remains unrivaled now ten years after the series first graced the original PlayStation. By comparison, Hot Shots Tennis feels tepid and shallow, offering little outside of similar presentation from which to draw comparison. An unfortunate misstep, given the potential offered by the Hot Shots brand, but this latest game proves that genius is seldom universal, and that Sony’s big-headed athletes should perhaps stick to the links.

Here accessibility is, as with Hot Shots Golf, the most prominent feature, and it can be felt with every predicable volley with tennis matches distilled down to a series of easily timed button presses with little room for invention or creativity. While in golf the Hot Shots series entertained players with its balanced mechanics both easy to pick and difficult to master, ot Shots Tennis makes no such effort and instead of entertain will likely just drive players to boredom.

It may seem unfair to size up Hot Shots Tennis‘ faults against its predecessor’s triumphs, but that blunder falls squarely to Sony and developer Clap Hanz, whose decision to associate such a perfunctory effort with a brand as established at Hot Shots can be seen as nothing less than flawed.

Given the weight of its namesake, it seems almost criminal that the developers managed to include unlockable courts, outfits, and characters, yet somehow neglected to include any measure of personality in the game itself. Each match plays out much like any other, with similar, if not identical, tactics proving equally useful regardless of which characters are involved. Once you get the basics of each of the different types of shots down, as well as how to respond to each in turn, Hot Shots Tennis‘ pretense of challenge quickly breaks down into a calculating, uninteresting mess.

Outside of the bland single player affair, multiplayer modes offering both singles and double matches help make things a bit more interesting, though given the game’s lackadaisical approach to everything else it’s hardly a surprise that anything approaching online has been quietly ignored. Also missing is any sort of tournament, with Hot Shots Tennis instead offering four game stages with no quarter or semi final match ups at all, undermining any sense of progress the title might have otherwise evoked. This game is as vanilla as they come, failing to even measure up to earlier efforts such as 2002’s Virtua Tennis 2.

Hot Shots Tennis is a disappointment, not just because of its failure to live to its pedigree, but more importantly for its failure to live up the expectations of players who look for more in their tennis games than a watered down recreation of the sport. The game is painfully generic, and those players looking to add a tennis game to their libraries can do far better by looking in the local bargain bin than pick up this contrived effort. This game is A

Score: 1/5

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