I’m not much of an athlete in real life but I’m always down for sports video games that aren’t outright simulations like Madden or NBA 2K. Naturally, I’d gravitate towards the golf and tennis games that have been released on the eShop. This includes the recent Instant Tennis released by BreakFirst Games. This one is better than the tennis game released by D3 Publisher earlier this year but there is a lot that could still be improved on. The dev team knows this already but just so we can make this official, let’s have a look at the game as a whole.
Admittedly, I kind of thought the graphics in Instant Tennis looked ugly. The models and courts alike have this very rough feel to them, especially when the players are in motion. The 30-per-second framerate isn’t necessarily a desirable performance for a tennis game either. Easily the weakest effect was the audience present at some of the courts; they don’t have any real animation and the amount of audience members can affect the game’s framerate. On a lesser note, while the in-game “ads” are cheeky in some aspects, I feel like they didn’t need their own screens for the player to click through.
The sound design isn’t the best. There is only one music track that plays on the court and it’s way too bubbly and soft to be considered tennis music. Fortunately, you don’t get annoying voice clips that perpetually repeat during the matches – just ball whacks and audience claps. What clips there are should have been done by a voice actor. The announcer sounds like he was using a built-in mic from a laptop.
So what kind of tennis is Instant Tennis? A fairly straightforward take on the sport, actually. The Quick Play and Tournament modes are the only modes with any substance and they are as close to tennis as they get. As you play matches you get to level up and unlock extra players and courts. They’re all cosmetic but they do help provide you with something to look forward to.
At first, the fact you can’t actually move the playe is disappointing. Fortunately, you still have plenty of control over how you decide to hit the ball. The yellow streak on the opposing side is where the ball is set to strike once you hit it; you can move that streak left or right to guide the ball differently, and you can either use drop or charge shots. So even though you can’t directly move the player, your input still matters entirely.
This is driven home when you play in handheld mode. It can be very easy for you to accidentally hit the ball out of bounds so you have to simultaneously be precise with your aim and keep an eye on the AI. Surprisingly, I had an easier time playing the game with motion controls. It doesn’t feel quite as natural as Wii Sports‘s tennis but it’s easier to manage and the chances of accidental Outs are greatly reduced.
While the presentation could be greatly touched up upon, there is some decent tennis to play underneath it all. Yet it still feels like there could be more to the overall package. There’s not that much meat on these bones once you see all Instant Tennis has to offer. I was told there would be future updates for the game so I may as well make a couple of suggestions:
First, the overall presentation needs a boost. Bump up the performance, reduce any factors that hinder it, add more music, and make the characters look more pleasantly cartoon-y. You could probably even be more outlandish with the types of characters and court themes you could add to the game in the future.
Second, variety is a must. There is a good amount of tournaments to play in Instant Tennis but the tennis gameplay itself doesn’t really change between them. You know how Wii Sports has those “training” minigames? Give this game a minigame mode! Have them give the player new objectives to go for. You could probably even make a mission mode based around the minigames you come up with.
I think the inclusion of these two things would enhance Instant Tennis by a solid margin. It’s currently an okay-ish appetizer while waiting for Mario Tennis Aces to finally drop to a tangible price but it still has some ways to go before I could comfortably give it a thumbs up.
Review copy provided by BreakFirst Games