We minna no harm with these hot shots!
Ah, the summer - tennis season, it would seem, with at least three new tennis games making their way into my flat in the last couple of weeks. One of which surprised me - Everybody's Tennis - clearly because I hadn't been paying any attention to the world, a tennis version of Minna No stylings? Yes please. Everybody's Golf on the PSP is one of the most addictive and best handheld games to date, and the home console versions have been a staple of my gaming diet since their inception way back when.
"Does it have any negatives? Well, it's not as good as Virtua Tennis 3, but what is?"
What we have here is stupid, over the top and just plain fun - it may be aimed at a younger market, but it works for any level of player, with simple to pick up controls and a surprisingly strategic game underneath. It actually feels a fair bit like the early Smash Court Tennis games (the early ones, not the "I'm pretending to be a serious game" new one), or even Super Tennis on the SNES - no small praise, I'm sure you'll agree.
Whilst initially limited to two characters, the challenge mode soon unlocks more participants - just as in EG - all of whom have different stats and playing styles. It's a simple formula, and it works so delightfully well that sometimes I think I might just cry. Other courses with their own speed and bounce ratings are also unlockable, along with new umpires and some other bits and bobs. It's Everybody's Golf, but Tennis. It really, really is. What else did you expect?
Multiplayer is fantastic, and up to four players can compete - the power ups and silly options make it a whole new game and can throw victory in seemingly any direction, so it helps if you're like me and your partner is trying to use a nearby lamp to control the game. He has... A small grasp of videogames, let's say.
The game isn't the most stunning thing in the world but it does a fine job - characters are bold and well-defined and the cartoony style holds strong throughout. The same can be said for the audio, which if you've played Everybody's Golf before you will know what to expect. It's happy. Very, very happy. And the players cry things, as do the umpires. Sometimes they annoy you, sometimes they amuse you, but they never offend you or make you angry. Good god it's a nicey-nice game.
So basically what we have here is a cartoon tennis game filled with stupidity and power ups. It doesn't sound like the best thing in the world, but it actually works out as the perfect complement to more serious tennis sims - daft fun, though requiring a surprising amount of thought in places.
It doesn't change the route map for how tennis games will be made in future, and it's sure to have a smaller effect on tennis games than Everybody's Golf had on golf games, but for what it is and for how much it costs, it's a real gem.
Does it have any negatives? Well, it's not as good as Virtua Tennis 3, but what is? And it would have been nice to see a handheld version of the game - though that may happen at some point. There isn't anything here that can be reasonably slated - I can't have a go for it being cutesy. I'm not a monster. Plus its charms just have me.