Smash Court Tennis 3 - PSP - Preview
You might think that all tennis games are the same. It’s easy to do – if you play too many of any particular genre, the differences among titles might fail to stand out (especially if they don’t have any). You might also think that, after playing the stellar Virtua Tennis 3, there is no longer the need for another tennis game.
Hopefully the “you might think” prefix used for each introductory sentence has clued you in as to what’s really going on. If not, then know this: not all tennis games are created equal. After going through the content of Smash Court Tennis 3, it’s clear that there is room – and a significant need – for another tennis classic.
From afar, Smash Court Tennis 3 might look like the other guys. But its distinctions are apparent the moment you start playing. While most tennis games shoot for an arcade feel, SCT3 could be described as an action simulator. Strokes must be thought out and executed well before the ball actually arrives. The strategy-driven gameplay is backed by some of the most realistic animations seen in a PSP game. Every stroke consists of smooth and accurate animations. Likewise, the character models are really impressive, showing clearly defined details that make each player resemble their real-life counterparts.
Smash Court Tennis 3 has several cool distractions to keep players busy, including three addictive mini-games you’ll read about next. But its feature presentation is Pro Tour, a mode that lets you build a fictitious tennis star and carry him or her from the rank of dead last rank to number-one. Enter tournaments, win special matches to gain partners and earn sponsorship deals, and allocate stat points to increase your athlete’s overall performance. Your player’s look and play style can be changed and upgraded along the way.
Three uber-cool mini-games were playable in this near-finished build of the game: Bomb, Galaga, and Pac-Man. Each of these games spice up tennis by adding inspired visuals and gameplay changes that’ll make anyone who was a gamer in the 90s stop and smile. They don’t offer much variety but are great time-killers and will be an excellent addition to the game’s multiplayer functionality – two players can go head-to-head using just one UMD.
Fans of Namco’s dot-chomping, ghost-avoiding mascot will be amused and delighted by Pac-Man Tennis. This mini-game offers a special Pac-Man-themed court with dozens of yellow dots scattered across the court. Of course, to eat dots you must have Pac-Man in there somewhere – and as it turns out, he is the ball! Every dot eaten goes toward a point bank that’s awarded to the scoring player. The default total is 200 dots, but that can be tweaked to your liking.
Galaga Tennis may be the weirdest mini-game you will ever see applied to the sport. As the controller of a futuristic, triangular racket, you’d think that the goal had something to do with hard swings and damage infliction. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, players score to leave behind alien circles. The circles move and grow with every successful move. If you stand in the circle too long, the Galaga effect occurs – that is, your player gets sucked up through a spaceship’s retractor beam.
You can probably guess what happens next, but likely think it’s too crazy to be true. When you lose a player, watch for the ship that took him or her to return, and then strike it with the ball. Voila – instant craziness. Now you have two tennis players, both attached and moving in complete unison, just like the player-controlled ships of Galaga. It’s insane, but it rules.
Bomb Tennis replaces the standard yellow ball with a time bomb. It becomes more dangerous with every stroke and explodes at the point of impact. Should you be lucky enough to dodge an explosion, the game will drop a minimum of two stagnant bombs on your side of the court. These bombs won’t do anything without influence (by way of the bomb you’re hitting over the net). If those bombs collide, a massive chain reaction will occur, setting off a series of explosions that are nearly impossible to avoid.
Cool, sophisticated, and packed with a gameplay engine that’s remarkably realistic, Smash Court Tennis 3 is in place to become the PSP’s next big star in sports gaming. Stay tuned to GameZone as we bring you more on this game in the coming weeks.