Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on
It seems like Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis would be a perfect fit on the Nintendo Wii, but the ugly graphics and bad control make this port extremely difficult to recommend.
When released on the Xbox 360, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis was a resounding success. Rockstar Games is a company best known for making violent games full of different modes and exciting mini-games, so to see this company tackle something so small and non-violent took a lot of people by surprise. But it worked, and the budget ping pong game managed to impress the critics and sell plenty of copies at the retail level. Flash forward a year and a half and Nintendo Wii owners are finally getting the chance to play Rockstar's fascinating next generation sports game.
You might think that with the Wii's unique motion-sensing control that a game like Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis would be a perfect fit. After all, it's simple games like Wii Tennis on the Wii Sports bundle that have convinced so many people that the Wii is the system for them. But while this may seem like a perfect fit for the console all it takes is one play to realize that there's something very wrong with this Wii port. What should have been the perfect show piece for the Wii is marred by poor controls and a complete lack of options. That's not to say that you can't have fun with Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, but this port is nowhere near as well put together as what we saw on the Xbox 360 a year ago.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves; Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis is a relatively simple game both in concept and execution. This is not your typical sports game; you don't get a lengthy career mode, you can't create your own character and you can forget about going to some giant tournament sponsored by a beer company. Instead Rockstar's Table Tennis is a modest game that cuts out all of the fat and gives you a solid game of ping pong. You play a one-on-one game against opponents from around the world trying to be the first person to get their score to 21. It may be a simple concept, but if it's done correctly (as it was with the Xbox 360 version) it can be incredibly fun and addictive.
In Rockstar's Table Tennis you have a choice between eleven different athletes, although only a handful of those are open to you from the start. Win enough tournaments (or play enough exhibition games) and you'll eventually meet a diverse group of Table Tennis champions. Each of the characters represents a different country, everything from the USA to China to Brazil and even Egypt. Each of the Table Tennis champs has a unique stance and serve, they even hold their paddles differently.
The characters in Rockstar's Table Tennis do more than just look different; they actually have different strengths and weaknesses. Much like a fighting game, the characters in Table Tennis have their own unique way of playing the game, each person feels different from the last. Some are faster than others, others are stronger, some get tired quickly, and there are a few that are just no good at serving. You will have to play every character if you want to learn who is right for you.
Strangely enough that's not the only similarity this game shares with your average fighting game. Games are played with three rounds, or whoever manages to get two wins first. Players take turn serving the ball and the first person to 11 wins. Outside of that there isn't much more you will need to know about the grand sport of Table Tennis, which is good because when that rally gets going it rarely slows down.
Since the players are only feet away from each other the game's speed has a tendency of ramping up rather quickly. You may start with a few soft hits, but it won't take long before both of you are trying to out-smash the other person. If the game's stats are to be believed these balls can go well over sixty miles per hour. With the ball traveling that fast all it takes is one stupid mistake and the point goes to your opponent. Rockstar's Table Tennis is the type of game that gets real exciting real quick. Although it's easy to compare this game to all of the tennis simulators out there, the game's speed and intensity really sets Table Tennis apart.
Unfortunately the deceptively deep controls keep this Wii version from hitting the same high notes as the Xbox 360 original. As you can imagine, you swing the Wii remote around to hit the ball back and forth. While this works well, the problems start when you try to add effects to your hit. To spin the ball (topspin, rightspin, leftspin, and backswing) you have to push the Wii remote's D-pad, which can be somewhat awkward as you're trying to swing the control. You also have the ability to perform a soft shot (by holding the "A" button) or letting loose with a manual focus shot (by holding the "B" trigger). No matter how long I tried using this set-up I just couldn't get it to feel natural. I suspect that with enough practice (and a lot of patience) one might be able to get the hang of it and make the whole thing feel second nature, but the controls just felt awkward to me.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!