Last Saturday I spent two hours downloading Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip for Sony Playstation Portable. I was immensely annoyed that it took so long to download a relatively small amount of data. Five days later, I don’t regret the wait. This game has been a most pleasant surprise. Hot Shots Tennis for PSP is a cute combination of arcade sports and role playing that’s a tremendous value. If you find arcade sports remotely entertaining then I highly recommend this game.
Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip takes Clap Hanz (Hot Shots Golf) art style and combines it with RPG elements that reminded me of Mario Tennis: Power Tour for Game Boy Advance. You start off with a pair of players on a journey to spread joy to the world through the Love Tennis Club. The silly premise is just an excuse to travel to different locations, beat dozens of players, recruit new allies, and add a bit of story to the excellent gameplay.
As you travel from location to location, there are plenty of RPG trappings to enjoy in between matches. You’ll have to talk to different characters to gather information. There are simple fetch quests. There are plenty of hidden objects and characters to find. There are hundreds of rats to kill for experience points (okay, I made that last one up). Naturally, there are “boss fights” at the end of each level. Linking it all is a surprisingly deep and thoroughly fun tennis system.
As someone that has played hundreds of hours of actual tennis, I really appreciated the addictive gameplay and subtle nuances in Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip. The different play styles — baseline, net, and all-around — are distinct. The difference between players is really pronounced. Character stats can be manipulated through the use of different outfits, racquets, and accessories. The art is cute and the RPG elements are fun, but none of it would matter if the gameplay wasn’t any good. The tennis in this game is way more than good. It’s great.
Most of you know that I’m a big RPG fan. Some of you know that I dress far better than most game writers. With all of that in mind, you can understand why I enjoyed the game’s customization system. Some of the outfits are ridiculous — horse heads, stag beetle costumes, bikinis, ninja outfits, etc. While I enjoyed seeing my players look ridiculous on the court, I loved maxing out stats through outfits. I find accessorizing fun. Sue me.
As with any great portable game, Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip is fun for two minutes or two hours. Even though I beat the game’s story mode last night, I know that I’ll be playing it for dozens of hours in the future. Maxing out the various characters, trying out new outfit combinations, and playing multiplayer matches (ad hoc only) with friends will definitely be part of my gaming future.
Best of all, Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip is pretty cheap, with an MSRP of $19.99. Again, if you dig arcade sports titles like Hot Shots Golf and Mario Tennis then I highly recommend this game. It offers a tremendous amount of fun for a relatively low price. Going into the game, I knew I’d like it, but I was surprised that I ended up loving it.