Tennis games have always been well suited to handheld gaming. I canâ€™t say Iâ€™m a big fan of the sport, so itâ€™s only been the fantabulous Mario Tennis on the old Game Boy Colo(u)r that has managed to suck me into the world of lobs and spins so far.
Everybodyâ€™s Tennis for PSP has a lot in common with Camelotâ€™s portable tennis title. For a start itâ€™s a â€˜Tennis RPGâ€™, meaning that you will walk around many different environments interacting with a huge variety of NPCâ€™s, even challenging a couple to matches. There is a camp story that runs throughout the main game mode and some entertaining character elements. This mode is really well suited to me as it paces the game out well, sets up matches and means that wall to wall tennis isnâ€™t crammed down your throat.
From the moment the menu screams â€˜Everybodyâ€™s Tennisâ€™ at you enthusiastically, you know this is going to be a cute game. All the environments are bright and all of the characters have big heads with over the top expressions. The game feels very happy, and very Japanese. But you know what? I think it adds to the charm and the whole point of the game is that it does make you â€˜happy to play Tennisâ€™. Sure Tennis Pros may want to stick to something that looks realistic, but you canâ€™t please all of the people...
Of course you can skip all the fluff and jump straight into an exhibition match. Doing so, you will quickly unearth the fact that under the neon colours and busy HUD, there is a quality tennis game. As you would expect, this title veers towards the arcade take on the sport. Flow and quick reflexes are the name of the game, and after you grasp the basics, you are in for some intense Tennis.
The controls are uncluttered and responsive which is essential for the pace this game moves at. The key to winning is timing and position, which are things you will get better at the more you play. You can just jump in for a blat, but the real satisfaction is in mastering the game.
All of this is wrapped up in a very attractive package. The presentation is great, animations smooth and the music suitably chirpy. You can tell the developer has put a lot of love into the game through lots of little extras such as some of the animations resulting from hitting characters in the background and the excellent replay system.
If you have a passing interest in tennis, want to try something different, or are a tennis fan with a sense of fun, then I have no problems recommending that you pick up this title. There really is something here for everyone. This is essentially a much more polished version of the game released on the PlayStation 2 a few years ago, and a good step up for those that still love Mario Tennis.