Smash Court Tennis 3
Namco Bandai has been nurturing the Smash Court tennis series since the early days of Sony's first Play-station console. Like many other Namco titles it has always been a solid game, maybe it used to be a bit cute in its design and also quite Japanese in its style.
Now we are in 2007 and Smash Court Tennis 3 gets its release on Sony's first handheld console the Sony PSP. Is it the tennis title we have all been waiting for?
Well, I must say the first thing you will notice is that the characters with big heads and silly hats have been dropped. In Smash Court Tennis 3 you get a life-like rendering of the modern tennis game that handles well, has great modes available and will have you top-spinning and slicing your way top glory for many months to come.
Smash Court Tennis 3 has lots on offer when it comes to controlling your characters play. The three core shots; topspin, slice and lob are all present and correct but the way in which you achieve these shots and the many variations of each shot available will take a bit of mastering.
Hit the PSP face buttons for an 'Easy' shot - a return with little power and little control. On its own the easy shot isn't going to get you very far, to beat your opponents you will need to master the more tricky shots. For a "nice" shot you must hold down the button to power up for a couple of seconds before hitting the ball. 'Hard Hits' are the fastest and most accurate of shots. To perform Hard Hits you need to fill your power bar by holding down Square for a good amount time before the ball gets to you. Hard Hits are game winning shots and if you master the timing of them you will go far.
For each of these core shots, which on their own will take some practice, you can then use your D-pad or analogue stick to implement various modifiers to your shots. This is all explained in the very useful tutorial mode and if you take some time to practice you will find Smash Court Tennis 3 to be an incredibly precise game.
Smash Court 3 has all the modes a player would require. Arcade and Exhibition are both present and you can play as 1 of 16 licensed tennis stars in these modes but if you are serious about this game you need to be starting your own career in the Pro Tour mode.
In Pro Tour mode you create your own player and take him/her through an entire career. You organise your own schedule of tournaments, training, securing sponsorship as well as taking a rest every now and then. You are rewarded for your toil with experience points. Experience points will help you power up your character skills, buy moves, buy clothing and rackets etc.
Overall I think Smash Court Tennis 3 on the PSP is a resounding success. Namco have taken the best from all the tennis titles and bolstered up their own, already very good, title with the requisite elements from all.
If you haven't seen Smash Court for some years you will find a more serious, realistic title in SCT3. The only thing I can say that is negative is - SCT3 isn't easy or forgiving. Smash Court Tennis 3 is stern challenge for any PSP player and also to the best tennis titles out there.