[Gamers' Day 2007] Super-Deformed Tennis is Coming

What happens when the guys who made cutesy golf one of the best versions of the sport decide to try their hand at tennis?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: May 17, 2007
If you think about it, it's actually pretty cool that Japanese developer Clap Hanz has managed to keep the Hot Shots Golf franchise alive for as long as they have. In fact, with a PSP version already out and a PS3 version in the works, the series actually seems to be picking up steam. Not that it'll stop the developer from pumping out their version of tennis, and we managed to get some hands-on time with a localized build of the game.

For starters, Sony's localization is keeping the characters blessedly intact. No more pudgy middle-aged dudes with receding hairlines, now we get to enjoy the goodness of adorable anime-style dudes and cutesy, bubbly chicks gettin' they tennis on. And after about five minutes of un-learning the play style that Virtua Tennis 3 drilled into our heads, we actually started to get hooked.

Unlike a lot of other tennis games Hot Shots Tennis is less about momentum and more about timing. The characters absolutely haul ass around the court, so the idea is that you get planted and then set up for your shit, making sure to press the normal, slice or lob (X, Circle or Triangle, with respects) buttons just as the ball comes in and then using the left analog stick to shape where the shot goes. It sounds simple, but thanks to a handy set of symbols you can see how early or late you were (and there's a fairly wide margin for error).

Nailing the shot with perfect timing and absolutely crushing a cross-court slice feels every bit as good here as it does in any of those tennis sims, demonstrating once again that Clap Hanz understands the basics, makes them instantly accessible and then builds on them with a disarming anime style that hides just how good their games can be.

They're not skimping on the numbers, either; 14 characters (unlocked by playing against them a la Hot Shots Golf), 11 different settings (including beaches and what looked like Mayan ruins), four-person multiplayer, training modes and an almost RPG-like progression system in the Challenge Mode. We just wish we'd actually gotten the chance to goof around with that last one, but the setting and number of games meant we sadly will have to wait until a preview build rolls in. When it does, we'll be sure to kick up an update.