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Neville Nicholson
25 Jun, 2007

Smash Court Tennis 3 Review

PSP Review | The ball's in your court.
Temptation is something we each face on a daily basis. The temptation to watch TV instead of doing our homework. The temptation to call in sick instead of going in to work. The temptation to watch Home and Away instead of … anything worth watching.

With that in mind, we urge any of our readers to avoid the temptation of comparing Smash Court Tennis 3 on PSP with Virtua Tennis 3. Whilst the two games share a great deal in common, they’re aimed squarely at different camps with each offering something different and compelling. Where Virtua Tennis succeeds in offering a free-and-easy arcade style experience, Smash Court Tennis 3 provides a more realistic approach to the sport. Squaring the two against each other is like comparing Gran Turismo and Burnout.

"Don't choke, don't choke, don't choke..."

"Don't choke, don't choke, don't choke..."
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Even comparing the title to its earlier iterations would be a mind-boggling enterprise, as the Smash Court series began on the original PlayStation as something more in line with Everybody’s Golf. Characters in the original title were super-deformed anime type characters, with cartoon-style courts that would be be more at home in a Mario Tennis title. A far cry from the more realistic and gorgeously animated title which has found its way into the portable arena.

For those fond of a little depth, Smash Court 3 does not disappoint, with enough gameplay modes to satiate even the most rabid tennis fan. Arcade and Exhibition modes give you a roster of 16 real life tennis pros including well-known names such as Roger Federer, Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova. There aren’t any Aussies on the list, unfortunately, so Lleyton Hewitt fans will have to console themselves.

The Pro Tour mode is the most in-depth mode in the game, giving players the ability to create and customize their own character before taking them onto the courts. As you attempt to take on the world, points awarded for winning matches can be used to upgrade your character’s stats as well as to purchase special skills. The mode has a lot of depth (perhaps too much for a portable title), which requires you to plan your schedule of playing in tournaments, training, and negotiating sponsorship contracts.

Now you can create your very own sexually-ambiguous tennis star.

Now you can create your very own sexually-ambiguous tennis star.
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The core gameplay is surprisingly deep and a playthrough of the game’s tutorial mode is highly advised. Simply running to the location of the ball and banging away at the X button may get your ball over the net for the most part, but you’ll find this won’t keep you in the game for long. There are a number of different types of shots, and mastering each requires a great deal of skill, strategy and timing.

The majority of shots on offer (including the staple of topsin, slice and lob) require holding down the corresponding button and releasing at just the right moment, making sure to aim your shot by using the D-pad or analog nub. The necessary “power-up” adds a great deal to the strategy of the title, as it requires you to try to second-guess your opponent. Making rash decisions, or leaving them too late, will open you up to all kinds of hurt, especially later in the game when the AI becomes truly unforgiving.

What makes this timing strategy work even better is the seamless animation. Your player will duck and weave appropriately as you move about the court, then start to pull their racquet back as you power up your shot before releasing. It really is a pleasure to watch, and not far removed from recent next-gen console offerings. Character and texture detail is more along PlayStation 2 lines of course, but on the PSP’s widescreen, the game looks crisp and clean, as well as maintaining a smooth framerate.

Sound effects are what one would expect from a tennis game, with all the grunts and groans, plus the satisfying “pop” of the ball as it meets your racquet accounted for. The music, whilst hardly soundtrack-worthy, is at least pleasingly inoffensive to the ears.

Wish MY schedule included Honolulu...

Wish MY schedule included Honolulu...
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Once you’ve exhausted all the available modes on offer (and purchased a new PSP, as the system has by now been ground into dust in your hands), you can take part in multiplayer matches via ad-hoc networking. As all PSP games should, Smash Court Tennis 3 offers Game Sharing (with a limited court selection), so you can challenge friends who don’t own a copy of the game.

But even once you’ve climbed to the top of the leader boards, there’s still mini-games on offer: Pac-Man Tennis, Galaga Tennis (both based on the classic Namco arcade titles) and Bomb Tennis. The mini-games can be a lot of fun in short bursts, though the meat of the game remains the Career mode. As a portable title, the mini-games alone should be enough to keep you entertained while you’re waiting in line to buy tickets for the Australian Open.

Which is really the litmus test to see whether or not Smash Court Tennis 3 is the game for you. For all its wealth of options and play modes, many gamers will simply be lost in a sea of menus and statistics. With a slower pace and tighter focus on strategy and timing, tennis fans will be in heaven, whilst more casual gamers would be better “served” (excuse the tennis pun) with Virtua Tennis’ simpler and less daunting approach.

In the end, Smash Court Tennis 3 is easily the most in-depth tennis game on a portable system, as well as “on par” (excuse the… golfing pun?) with many console offerings.
The Score
As far as portable tennis games go, you're not exactly spoilt for choice. But Smash Court Tennis 3 comes highly recommended for those looking for the most in-depth tennis experience. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Smash Court Tennis 3 Content

Smash Court Tennis coming to the Xbox 360
13 Sep, 2007 More tennis games on the way.
Smash Court Tennis 3 announced
04 Mar, 2007 Sounds ace.
Smash Court Tennis 3 Review
30 Sep, 2008 This one might need a re-string.
2 Comments
6 years ago
SHouldnt this be in PSP section and not PS3?
6 years ago
iorkara wrote
SHouldnt this be in PSP section and not PS3?
No, because you see... Whilst the game is technically a PSP game, we thought it'd be beneficial to list it in the PS3 section, because the... because it... The thing is, you see...

Oh, forget it. icon_redface.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Publisher:
  Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developer:
  Namco

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