Everybody's Tennis PlayStation 2
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Clap Hanz
Release Date: Out Now
With the Everybody's Golf (aka Hot Shots Golf) series proving so popular it's no surprise that developers, Clap Hanz have turned their attention to another sport. Everybody's Tennis, like Everybody's Golf, is a casual take on the sport it's based on and manages to be just as addictive as the Everybody's Golf games. However, whilst the game is initially very enjoyable there's a lack of depth here that prevents the game from being as well regarded as the Everybody's Golf titles.
Everybody's Tennis offers a Tennis with Everybody mode, a Challenge and a Training mode. The Tennis with Everybody mode allows you to play with up to three other players (assuming you have a Multitap device) in a single or doubles game. In this mode you can also set a handicap for each of the players (you'll see ankle weights appear on the handicapped players) and you can also choose to play a ball that bounces irregularly as well as playing the game in slow motion. Training mode gives you a variety of challenges designed to improve your game. Without a doubt the main mode is the Challenge mode and here you'll progress through seven different classes in a bid to increase your ranking and unlock everything the game has to offer.
Everybody's Tennis uses the same bobble-headed style characters that you will have seen in the Everybody's Golf titles. There are fourteen characters in total (only two are initially available) and they are categorized into beginner, intermediate and expert players. Each player is rated from A to F for their serve, stroke, volley, impact and footwork. They are also rated as either an all-rounder, net player, big server or baseline player. You can't create your own player though which is disappointing. Most of the time you're free to choose the best player available to you, although some matches require that you must play with a player from a lower class when attempting to unlock a better player.
I enjoyed playing Everybody's Tennis but there's a definite lack of depth here and the game doesn't offer any kind of long term challenge for those who are used to playing tennis games. In around 10 hours I had unlocked everything (costumes, players, umpires and courts) and had seen everything the game had to offer. I found this quite disappointing when you consider I've spent much more time with Everybody's Golf and still haven't managed to unlock everything in that game. The Challenge mode just isn't challenging enough. The learning curve is very gentle and rises in a very gradual manner throughout. Whilst this is bad news for those Virtua Tennis veterans out there, it's actually good news for those who want a tennis game that can be enjoyed without spending hours practicing. My younger daughters have really enjoyed the game whereas they would become frustrated with the difficulty level in games such as Virtua Tennis 3 and Top Spin 2.
Graphically the game is on a par with Everybody's Golf, which is to be expected. The cutesy bobble-head characters aren't wonderfully detailed but they do have a certain charm. The various courts in the game are a bit of a mixed bag. Some look really basic whilst others, such as the Grand Palais Indoor Court, actually look quite good. The presentation of the game as a whole is a little on the basic side. On the plus side the load times are quite short and the frame rate is perfect but with such a basic level of graphical detail on display it would have been criminal if it hadn't been.
Although none of the speech in Everybody's Tennis is subtitled, the game won't cause deaf gamers any problems. The characters make comments when you select them on the menu screens and during the games and none of these comments are subtitled. The umpire's comments are also not subtitled. Neither of these omissions spoil anything though. You'll see words such as 'Net', 'Fault', 'Return Ace' appear onscreen at the relevant moments. There are no gauges to help you serve in Everybody's Tennis but you do have icons that appear over a players head after a shot has been taken to signify how well it was hit. A quaver icon indicates the shot was timed just right. The tortoise icon shows you that the timing was late and a rabbit's head icon informs you that you took your shot a little too early. Shots that are timed to perfection and those that you make a complete mess of are also indicated in such a fashion. As with Everybody's Golf you'll see the words 'Clap' appear above those spectators who are clapping. You'll also see the word 'Thup' appear when a shot has clipped the top of the net. During replays you'll see the word 'Thwack' used to indicate a hard shot.
Being a big fan of the Everybody's Golf series I was thrilled when I learned of Everybody's Tennis. The very idea of having a lighthearted yet in-depth tennis game really appealed to me. However, Everybody's Tennis hasn't really turned out that way. Compared to Everybody's Golf it feels shallow and has little in the way of long term challenge. Of course it's fun and enjoyable but it doesn't last that long. To a certain degree this would have been forgivable if an online multiplayer mode had been included or if the game had offered some genuinely challenging AI opponents. Younger gamers and those looking for a fun tennis experience will no doubt enjoy Everybody's Tennis (and for this reason alone I feel it's a good game) but if you've been used to the depth on offer in the Virtua Tennis and Top Spin series the shallowness of Everybody's Tennis is going to disappoint.
Make no mistake, Everybody's Tennis is fun and enjoyable. However, it's also rather shallow and doesn't offer the depth and long term challenge that the Everybody's Golf titles are known for.