Family Tennis SP Review--Wii U
Family Tennis SP, recently released for the Wii U for the budget price of $4.99, makes me feel as if I've slipped off into an alternate reality, where Nintendo didn't feel it needed to cater to the motion control audience, and even further embraced it's heritage. The "Family" series of games, which ties itself together as if the characters (Billy, Sarah, Dad, Mom, Auntie, Gramps, Nan, and Cuz, so only two people with actual names) are spending fun weekends together doing whatever comes their way. This weekend, it's tennis.
As I said, the game feels familiar, yet alternate. If the original Wii had just went with what it had, rather than inventing Mii's and motion control, we would have gotten Family Tennis SP. What the game does, it does well, with a few different courts here and there and eight different characters with varying skills between them all. You can save up your energy by completing specific tasks for a power shot that is either hard or impossible to return. Other than that...it's tennis. I don't mean to insult the tennis playing crowd, but there's not much you CAN do for variety, so I can't really knock the game for that. A tennis court is a tennis court. They do open up for some fun minigames, where you can aim your shot and rack up points based on what part of the field has what points on it, but it feels a little less satisfying when you're aiming with a stick or D-pad than swinging that eponymous motion controller around. After Wii Sports spoiled us with decent motion control to our swings, it feels weird tipping that controller sideways and going after the same general play style old-school.
The graphics leave a bit to be desired: it doesn't seem like they tried to push the limits of the Wii U, but again, I can't fault them, as this is a budget title. The main interface has been translated to English, but any speech is in subtitleless Japanese, with no subtitle or translation options to be found, so if there is a story of some sort, or a reason for the power abilities, I couldn't tell you.
One thing this game does have going for it is a challenge: everyone puts up a good fight. You don't have a "Glass Joe" or two to get through before you find yourself challenged. I flat out lost my first few games before I got the hang of the control scheme, and after that it was still quite the volley, and I felt I earned every single point I made. The mini-games expect you to know what you are doing as well, as they AI there is even more unforgiving at easing you in. Get to know the control scheme, how to counter, and the true rules of tennis so you can judge whether a shot is worth going for or if it will be out of bounds, and you will find a fun little game. The same title was released on the 3DS recently, but this one adds in multiplayer capabilities, so it may be more worth your time (plus, the 3DS version is another $2). If you are a casual player who hasn't seen much videogame tennis action outside of the Wii Sports discs you won't really find much here, but if you are a tennis junkie, this game offers enough variety to warrant the budget price.
A review copy was offered by Shin'en Multimedia. It can be purchased on the Wii U eShop for $4.99, and it's 3DS bretheren is $6.99.
Final review: 2.5/5