Developer: Clap Hanz
Release date: 2010
I've been a tennis fan ever since I watched Steffi Graf win Wimbledon back in 1989. That match did more than make me a fan of tennis, though; it also made me a fan of tennis games. Unfortunately, most of the tennis games that were available at the time completely sucked. In fact, the only good ones I can think of are Nintendo's Tennis for GameBoy (released in 1989) and Namcot's Pro Tennis World Court (aka World Court Tennis, released in 1988) for the PC Engine/ TurboGrafx-16. Thankfully, a number of truly great tennis games hit the streets the world over following my introduction to the genre--games such as Nintendo's Super Tennis (released for the SNES in 1991) and Human's Final Match Tennis (PC Engine, 1991). Well, after playing through--and thoroughly enjoying--it, I can without hesitation add Clap Hanz' Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip to that hallowed list. If I were forced to succinctly describe this game, I'd say it's a mixture of Super Tennis and Nintendo's Mario Tennis titles (especially the Nintendo 64 entry)--topped with a sprinkling of Pro Tennis World Court. I picked those three games as points of comparison because Hot Shots Tennis has an accessible quality to it like Super Tennis, plays and feels like the Mario Tennis games and features an utterly crazy, travel-around-the-world "story mode"--which tasks players with spreading the love of tennis to the depressed and otherwise downtrodden (read more about this mode here)--that brings to mind Pro Tennis World Court. You don't have to play the game's story mode, of course; also available is an exhibition mode, in which you can play singles or doubles matches against a number of computer-controlled opponents, and a multiplayer mode, in which you can compete against friends (or strangers, I guess) locally and globally using Sony's adhoc Party service. If you're anything like me, though, you'll spend the bulk of your time playing through Hot Shots Tennis' story mode--beating opponents, buying and collecting gear (including crazy "outfits" like panda suits and tutus) and visiting all kinds of weird and wonderful locales (like the top of a skyscraper, a river-side stadium and a rural farm). The only negatives I can ascribe to this adorably odd game: 1) It doesn't include a traditional career (aka "world tour") mode, and 2) Too many opponents turn to the hit-a-drop-shot-and-then-lob-over-your-head tactic.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts