It’s been nearly 10 years since gamers took their first swing into Hot Shots Golf, and it’s rather surprising it took this long for the franchise to find a new venue. Hot Shots Tennis bears no resemblance to the Strata arcade game from 1990 for the two people out there who might think this is a remake, and it sadly doesn’t do much to live up to the Hot Shots name either. It’s a mundane and drab tennis title in the midst of far better selections.
Rather obviously, the casual tone of the series means the game play will not offer much in terms of depth, and the low-speed setting is immediately going to turn off more involved fans of the sport. The basic game play won’t do much to involve casual players either, as the simplistic style leads to repetitive back and forth matches that rely on simply hitting the ball to the opposite court just out of reach of the opponent.
That opponent will likely be A.I. controlled since online play is missing from the options menu, along with any other mode worth delving into. The training fails to take note of what made Virtua Tennis a wild success for Sega, even though the quirky style would have fit right in. Instead, you’ll bat some balls into lighted squares for, well, nothing.
Since there are no stats to improve, character selection during career style play comes down to your favorite looking player. The solid, nicely rendered character models make for decent eye candy, especially when equipped with the various unlockable costumes (which also have no purpose).
At its core, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the game. It has a decent feel, collision is spot on, and the series hallmark (pick up and play) is in full effect. A glowing circle indicates where the ball will land, further adding to the inviting nature of Hot Shots.
Three shot types are widely varied, and left analog stick aiming makes for precise shots once you’ve mastered the sensitivity. Annoyances include animation routines when you press the button too early to prep for the next return. They take too long to cycle, and it’s far too harsh of a penalty given the reaction time of a typical gamer.
A.I. isn’t particularly difficult, though in doubles play, partners are far too aggressive. They literally take over the game, and charge the net leaving little for the player to do. It’s likely an attempt to make Hot Shots Tennis more accessible with the A.I. help, but in the end, you’re barely playing the game and tournaments are won with little intervention.
The first tennis run for this series is easy to pass over while waiting for the franchise to get back on track doing what it does best. Next generation potential is calling for the Hot Shots Tennis sequel, including desperately needed online competition, deeper career mode, and tighter overall game play. This is a throwaway in the last days of the hardware.
Hot Shots Tennis is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Suggestive Themes.Powered by Sidelines