Top Spin 3 for the Wii was originally just named Top Spin, but after a small delay the game was renamed Top Spin 3 and has launched alongside the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game. Ever since Wii Sports took our time away from us back in December 2006 we've been waiting for a really great tennis game to arrive on the Wii. Sega tried to fill that void back in April, but failed, so is Top Spin 3 a good tennis game on the Wii or just another game that doesn't fully utilise the Wii hardware?
Despite sharing its name with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions Top Spin 3 is a completely different game to the aforementioned versions. There are different modes and different controls. Unlike the next generation versions Top Spin 3 features three main options from the main menu; exhibition, road to glory and party games. Exhibition is your standard quick game mode, with road to glory being the main single player mode. The road to glory mode contains several different global challenges, such as the survival mode, which requires players to win 7 wins in a row. Ultimately though, the road to glory mode is only barely passable as a single player mode and the game's single player options are far more limiting on the Wii.
The game also includes a few Wii exclusive party games, which aren't anything to get excited about. There are three party games. Two of the party games are called The Keys (and the only difference between the two is whether its singles or doubles). There is also a party game called the Invincible Man. The Invincible Man is essentially a 'winner stays on' tournament but it is the Keys modes that provide the most enjoyment. In the Keys mode players play through a normal tennis match and at the end of the match keys are awarded for certain requirements, such as scoring the most points at the baseline. While it is a creative party game we cannot help but feel that all of these party games feel tacked on and unnecessary, and we would have liked some quirkier mini games.
Top Spin 3 on the Wii is controlled a little bit differently. The Wii Remote is held on its side in your right hand, with the nunchuk held in your left hand. In game the nunchuk is used to move your player around and by swinging the Wii Remote you player will hit the ball. You can pull off several shots such as top spin and slice shots, as well as volleys. Serving can be done by just pushing Z or you can manually control the serve by pressing the C button on the nunchuk to grab the ball and then moving the Wii Remote to toss the ball in the air. The controls do take a little while to get used to, but after about half an hour we were hitting balls rather successfully. The controls are admittedly a lot more basic than in the other console versions of Top Spin 3, so those looking for a little bit of depth may be a bit disappointed. The game also complicates things a little by making it that when your character is at the top of the screen you have to move the Wii Remote to the left if the ball is to the right of the player.
The Wii Remote has to be held in your right hand and the nunchuk has to be held in your left hand, which is a little bit frustrating for those of us who are left handed (this reviewer included). We fiddled around in the options menu and could not find anything alluding to a left handed mode, which is rather disappointing considering we're not entirely sure why the Wii Remote has to be held in your right hand. The game isn't completely debilitating to left handed gamers, but the lack of a left handed control option is a disappointment and an oversight. It is also mandatory to use the nunchuk and Wii Remote, there is no remote only option.
There is a decent selection of actual tennis players in the game including Roger Federer, Tommy Haas, James Blake, Gael Monfils, David Nalbandian, Mario Ancic, Andrew Murray, Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych, Mark Philippoussis, Boris Becker, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Justine Henin, Nicole Vaidisova, Caroline Wozniacki and Amelie Mauresmo.
The strength of the Wii version of Top Spin 3 is easily the multiplayer, which includes support for up to four players. Sure you can play through the party games in multiplayer, but most people will probably find themselves to be rather entertained by just playing through a normal match. As you need to move the player, the game does have a steeper learning curve than Wii Sports, but because you have a greater control of your players the games can become rather competitive. Top Spin 3 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 has online support, while the Wii version, for some reason or another, misses out on online play all together, which means there are still no tennis games on the Wii which include online support.
The visuals really do let Top Spin 3 down on the Wii. The game looks very average, we're sure it looks worse than the first version of Top Spin on the Xbox. The player models are only just good enough to make out who their real life counterparts are and the courts look just average. With a tennis game there isn't a whole lot that has to be on the screen at the one time, just the court, the crowd and the player, so we're not quite sure why the game looks so mediocre on the Wii. The sound isn't that much better, with the menu music annoying us within about ten minutes.
Despite our complaints, Top Spin 3 is a decent game on the Wii. We can't help but feel a little disappointed by the lack of left handed controller support, the average graphics and the absence of an online mode, but when it comes to the gameplay Top Spin 3 works rather well on the Wii. Sure, the controls can be a little bit difficult to master, but they do become second nature quickly enough. Top Spin 3 on the Wii does feel like a compromised title in comparison to the next generation versions, but if you're after a deeper tennis game than Wii Sports then Top Spin 3 is the best choice.