If you're going to make a tennis game for the Wii, it's got to stand out from the crowd. And when I say crowd, I mean Wii Sports. After all, the celebrated Wii pack-in contains one of the most enjoyable and playable tennis games around.
EA Sports' recently released Grand Slam Tennis did a great job of differentiating itself from Nintendo's title by including many of the options that were sorely missing from Wii Sports tennis, such as career and online modes.
Aksus Games' Family Tennis also tries to set itself apart from the pack (i.e., Wii Sports), though it does so by going in the opposite direction of EA Sports' offering. For instance, rather than aiming to create a realistic representation of the sport, the folks at developer Arc System Works seemingly set out to create an easy-access, arcade-esque experience for Wii tennis fans.
Were they successful? Well, not exactly.
Don't get me wrong: Family Tennis has its charms. For starters, it's cute. It's also easy to pick up and play. Oh, and at just 500 Nintendo points ($5), it's pretty darn cheap, too.
Compare those positives to the title's negatives, though, and it's clear Family Tennis is only worth your hard-earned cash if you're a die-hard tennis fan. Among my complaints: The game looks like it could have been a launch release for the PlayStation 2 and features an ear-splitting soundtrack that I'm guessing even its creator can't enjoy.
Even worse: Although Family Tennis controls much like its counterpart in the world-conquering Wii Sports, it's not nearly as precise. Forehands and backhands work well most of the time, for instance, but every once in a while (too often, if you ask me) the same swing used to send a shot into the far corner of your competitor's side of the court becomes a lob that lands many feet beyond the baseline.
Speaking of competitors, don't expect to see many of them in Family Tennis. In fact, expect to see just four of them: Billy, Sally, "Mommy" and "Daddy." Players can compete against the titular family members in three modes: Elimination Match, Free Match and Thrilling Rally. Unfortunately, once you beat all of them in the first mode, there's little reason to boot up the game again.
As such, it shouldn't be too surprising to hear (see?) me say that Family Tennis, despite its cuteness and cheapness, is an absolute "NAY."
If you're like me and you have to play every single tennis game that's published, go ahead and drop the $5 needed to download it. If you're not, spend your dough on a much more deserving title (such as Art Style: Cubello or Orbient).