Family Tennis 3D Review (3DS)
I recently reviewed Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS and, while I thought it was a decent tennis game, I thought it had some flaws that kept it from being a great tennis game. Things like the incredibly easy difficulty and the over reliance on the special shots meant you paid way more attention to the type of shot you were doing than actually trying to actively win the match. Now, the eShop has a tennis game, Family Tennis 3D, available from Arc System Works. It’s part of the “Family” line of games that saw a number of releases on the WiiWare store. That was a series of games I thought were deeply flawed as well. How will this game stack up to those Wii releases and can it compete with Mario Tennis Open for the title of best 3DS tennis game?
What You Need to Know
As the name implies Family Tennis 3D is a tennis game starring a family of characters. You get the series regulars Mommy, Daddy, Billy, Sarah, Gramps and Nan as well as two new characters; Cuz and Auntie. There are multiple gameplay modes such as Free Play (where you set the rules for the match) and tournament play (where you play matches on random courts against four other characters). There are also three mini games that test your tennis ability. Three difficulty levels will give you the option of finding a match that works best for you. You also have the option of playing singles matches or doubles matches depending on which you prefer.
I was not a big fan of the “Family” series on WiiWare. I thought the games were full of bugs, lacked difficulty and had shallow gameplay. After downloading Family Tennis 3D, and playing with it for just a few minutes, I knew I was in for something better than we’ve seen in the series so far. The tennis itself is very good. The characters move with fairly realistic weight and can’t turn on a dime. You have to really pay attention to where you are on the court and what you’re going to have to do next. Like Mario Tennis Open, there are spots that will appear on the court and if you perform certain shots while standing on those spots you’ll get a slight boost. Unlike Nintendo’s offering, however, this bonus is fairly minimal and it’s actually much harder to get to these spots on the court. It was very easy to ignore that they were even there and just focus on playing the tennis itself.
You have three different types of shot; normal, lob and drop, that are mapped to the A, X, and Y buttons respectively. The B button is dedicated to jump, but I never actually used that much, though there were moments where it came in handy. You’ll use the Circle Pad to move around the court and aim your shots. The amount of control you have over the shots means you’ll feel a bit like a tennis pro before too long. You can even hit the ball out of bounds and sometimes you can use this to your advantage and really get your opponents out of position.
There are three mini-games included that test your skills at shot control. They’re pretty standard fare as far as tennis mini-games go, but they’re still a lot of fun to play around with. One, called Survivor, simply tasks you with defeating as many opponents as you can before you lose a game.
Human Backboard has you playing a regular game of tennis, but you score points based on the length of the rally. The player that wins the rally scores those points and the first to 100 wins. It’s a nice risk/reward style of play. You can go for points early on, but it’s going to take you longer to win. On the flip side if you get an extended rally going and lose the points you’ll put yourself in a big hole that you’ll have to work harder to get out of.
Roulette Rally is similar to Human Backboard, but instead breaks the surface of the court up into squares with differing points totals. You score the points of the square that you hit, but if you mess up and lose a rally you’ll have those points deducted from your point total. The first player to 1000 points wins in this mode.
Little Touches of Japan
If you like nothing else about this game, you’ll really love the little touches of Japan. Sure all of the game’s menus and voice acting is translated into English, but the voices are just funny to listen to. All of the characters speak in broken English with a thick Japanese accent. It’s a bit odd to hear at first, because I was expecting more American sounding voice work. It’s a nice little touch that makes the game unique. There are other little things as well; like after you win a match seeing a short anime stylized character punching the screen like they’re knocking out their opponent or the characters’ avatars changing based on how well they’re doing in the match. These are little touches that you just wouldn’t find in a game developed in America and I like it.
With all these different modes, difficulty levels and characters to choose from, there is one glaring omission from the game. It does not have multi-player of any kind. You have to play this game by yourself and that’s a shame. The mechanics are really solid and it could have been a lot of fun to get in and take to the court with a friend through local or online multi-player.
I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this game as much as I did. The actual tennis itself was as good as, if not better than, Mario Tennis Open. I did have these weird feelings when I would beat the other players. Sure, I won that match, but I beat my 12 year old son or my 70 year old father. Am I actually a winner because of it? All in good fun of course. If you’re looking for a good tennis game to keep with you all the time, then I would easily recommend checking out Family Tennis 3D. The visuals are cutesy, the tennis itself is very solid and you don’t have to carry around a cartridge. It’s there on your home screen anytime you want to play a quick game or two. Besides, you haven’t really played tennis until you’ve played it ON THE MOON!!!!
Review copy of the game purchased from the 3DS eShop.
Played through multiple tournaments, played all of the mini-games on different difficulty levels.
Total Play Time: 3 hours