Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip brings a comprehensive and robust tennis title to the PSP while also bringing RPG elements such as level-ups, character customization, and narrative-driven story to the table in an attempt to keep players invested in the game. Hot Shots is known for its light hearted approach to the various sporting genres and maintains its anime theme with Get a Grip quite nicely while still balancing a great tennis title with plenty of extras to prevent players from getting bored.
The game-play featured is top of the line in many ways and makes it truly a fun and addicting experience through and through. Competitively storming the campaign, players develop their skill while also enhancing attributes and gear for their players. Multiple playable characters emerge as the plot progresses, each with their own strengths and weaknesses on the court. One thing that never changes is the intensity of the tennis matches themselves. The robust collision system is accurate and lets you put the ball right where you want it just about every time.
Serving is pretty straight forward and predictable. A flat serve, slice serve, or spin serve can be sent over to the receiver depending on the match and user preference. For the most part flat serves will fault out though so it’s best to stick with spin serves.
The stamina bar will decrease as you run about in matches, making your character sluggish and inaccurate as he/she tires out. This interferes in a way that causes the player to either compensate by playing on their A-game or risk a loss. You will not be able to keep up with your opponent without a balanced game, your stamina bar will simply be garbage. That’s one of the things about this title that really drives you to out-perform yourself with each round. While stats and level ups will of course help you out, the right amount of hitting with well-placed timing will become the unlimited tool in winning your matches.
Along with the strategic breakdown you are give of the people you will face off against you are also shown vast back-stories behind them spanning entire levels completely themed to the story and do things like find tennis matches from important people that can help you along your way. As you win tennis matches with more and more players across your journey, you will gain them as playable characters.
Stamina, as mentioned above, power, control, speed, and Impact make up the main character attributes which are graded by letter. For example, an opponent with an A rating in power but a D in control will rely on luck and aggression more than one with an A in control but a D in power who must use more calculated moves to score.
The story mode provides a lot of hours of play on top of the limitless options in the exhibitions. Campaign mode consists of playing tennis with players worldwide, as mentioned above, but there are also plenty of optional tennis matches and non-playable characters to meet along the way. The game becomes heavily saturated in role playing elements quickly and strongly along the story mode including all of the leveling up (of course), exploration, relationships with the characters you play as, meet, and go up against, as well as the anime art style and text dialog bubbles reminiscent out of most turn-based RPGs. The major thing to note here is that this game will not have you swinging swords around, but getting instead entranced into a long and addicting experience along an attempt to take over the world of tennis presented to you through the story. Though admittedly the story may get a little convoluted at times and overall has a hard time being more than a walk around the world with some tennis everywhere you step, it really does keep you aware of what’s going on and interested in the development of the characters involved. Overall though it could have been more exciting and did feel a little tacked on, in that regard Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip needed to Get a Grip – Get it?
The artificial intelligence in the game is brutally concise with their shots in both story mode and exhibition matches. Music and sound effects were pretty fitting for the overall theme of the game, and each was tailored to the level in the story which you were experiencing. It’s hard to say whether or not players will enjoy the music because it is a little elevator-music style at times, but I can say that I’ve heard worse and it was tolerable enough that I didn’t have to turn it off in the options. I enjoyed the voice acted characters, though reading through the dialog in story mode was a little bit tedious at times.
As far as multi-player goes there are some Ad Hoc options which are meant for PSP to PSP wireless gaming but can also be taken online thanks to Ad Hoc Party on the PS3. The lack of an infastructure online mode means you won’t be able to play multi-player over the internet while on the go though, which is a little bit of a let-down but pretty common for a handheld title. The achievements should keep you going for quite a while if you need some type of replay value factor, however the story mode is long enough that you will probably get your kicks out of that for somewhere in the neighborhood of an average JRPG length.
A couple things that could have improved the game would include voice acting of some sort as well as a deeper, more thrilling, action-packed story mode. While the title was very responsive and great to play, it needed a little bit more to make it a really the immersion-driving experience it could be. All the right elements were there for a full-fledged Tennis RPG, but Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip falls short of such a realization in a few important ways.
Overall I feel like Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip has a really robust game-play system, fun cast of characters, and challenging yet rewarding action. The role playing elements are fun at first, but over time they get a little uninteresting and border on boring. I can say that the story mode adds to the game a lot, although some may consider it tacked on, but it needed more to be completely interesting through and through. Perhaps if a few more role playing influences permeated the plot and the game became about a little more than just playing tennis constantly and globally, things might entrance the player more. If you are looking for a portable tennis title though, you should really look no further. Everything about this game screams quality and I’d be remiss to neglect the fact that its reminiscent of some of the best tennis titles from the classic era of gaming.
- Title: Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip
- Platform Reviewed: PSP
- Developer: Clap Hanz Ltd.
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
- Release Date: Available Now
- MSRP: $19.99
- Review Copy Info: A digital download copy of this game was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for purposes of this review.