Rockstar Games Presents: Table Tennis
When Rockstar announced they would be making a game based on Table Tennis for the Xbox360 I thought they had gone insane. The company that’s notorious for Grand Theft Auto making a sports game? A sports game based on TABLE tennis? Which lunatic came up with that idea?
At least, that was my first thought and that remained present until I actually played it at the offices of Take2 in The Netherlands. The game was so much fun and addictive that I had to be kicked out of the office when people wanted to go home and when I went back to my car my opinion had drastically changed: if there was one game that could persuade me to buy Microsoft’s console it was Table Tennis.
In the end I never did buy that 360, but with Rockstar releasing Table Tennis on the Wii I can now enjoy it nonetheless. And with the Wii-mote as controller, it can only have become better, no?
This version doesn’t differ all that much from the original. The standard players like Liu Ping, Jesper, Kumi and so on are present, the modes are the same and actually you may just want to read our Xbox360 review of the game so I can concentrate on the things that have changed. And as said, that’s not much so I can be brief
Graphically things have been toned down a bit and although everything still looks pretty decent it’s clear that the Wii doesn’t have the power of an X360. Still, the visual style remains the same and that’s quite alright for us.
One of the biggest surprises may be that there’s no online mode. Nintendo keeps pushing the Wii as a “social” gaming machine and party games are still the console’s main focus so being able to go online with Table Tennis is less of a requirement for Nintendo than for Microsoft. From a Nintendo perspective this may sound logical but it still might be a downer for the consumer.
The controls then. You would expect the Wii-mote to be better than a normal controller for such a game, especially since we’ve already seen with Wii Tennis how much fun swinging can be. Unfortunately, I’m left handed and although several sites are raving about the controls, I won’t be. Guess what: there’s no option for left handed controls so while they may be excellent for right handed people, guys and girls like me will find them not as accurate as those of the X360 controller. In fact, sometimes I felt like it didn’t matter what I was exactly doing as just swaying around would be enough to keep the ball going.
My player would also be positioning himself according to my movement but while this worked really well on X360, I found my guy regularly going exactly the opposite direction from where I wanted him. Guess that’s the left handed thingy again.
If you want to be more precise, Rockstar has included some additional control system options which make use of the Nunchuck. First up is Control Freak with which you can place your player yourself. This is quite useless for right handed people as for them the system works pretty good by itself but for left handed players it can help a bit. If you don’t lose your concentration on the ball that is.
Secondly you can choose Sharp Shooter and then you can use the stick to direct the placement of the ball. This beats the motion-sensing of the Wii but it may be handy if you’re not really all too fond of that. Most people will just leave everything on automatic though.
Another thing that quite bothered me are the loading times. Once you’re playing things are very alright, but before you get there… There are several screens that you have to pass and them I’m not even talking about a loading screen. No, I’m talking about screens where you have to push the button on your Wii-mote in order to go to the next one. You don’t have to select anything, just push the “A” and then you get to enjoy a loading screen for five minutes before you get to the next useless screen that awaits your input (push “A”). Some optimization would have been more than welcome here.
But I’m nitpicking a bit. In all honesty I can say that for as far as party gaming goes, Table Tennis does an excellent job and will provide quite some fun, especially since it’s selling at a reasonably low price. It’s more advanced than Wii Tennis and delivers at least the same amount of fun.
Table Tennis continues in the line of decent party games for the Wii but unfortunately it doesn’t rise above that level. Except for the lack of an option for left handed people and the loading times that could definitely use some optimization, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the game but on the Wii you do notice why it’s selling at budget price. And that wasn’t the case with the Xbox360 version