An overlooked gem
Released simultaneously with the highly anticipated Dr. Mario Online Rx, Family Table Tennis is probably one of the most overlooked WiiWare games. Though the price of 500 Wii Points sounds tempting, people will probably see the game as a cheap, boring, and lackluster WiiWare game. Little do they know, Family Table Tennis is one of the best WiiWare titles available.
Out of all the WiiWare games released to date, only two of them have been priced at 500 Wii Points. These two games being Defend Your Castle and now Family Table Tennis. If you were to compare the quality of both games, you would quickly come to the conclusion that they are bargain gems that should not be overlooked. Unfortunately many people are skipping Family Table Tennis. Most gamers would rather play Lost Winds or Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.
In terms of gameplay, Family Table Tennis is a mixed bag. Though the game doesn’t play horribly, the controls are just a little too simple for my liking. In many ways, the game is almost like a clone of Wii Sports Tennis. In Wii Sports Tennis, all you have to do is swing the Wii Remote back and forth when the ball approaches your racket. Pretty simplistic right? Family Table Tennis plays the same way while the difficulty level of the game is even less. The only difficult part of the game is when your opponent nails the ball across the court or when the ball is moving extra fast. On the plus side, Family Table Tennis does look and sound better than Wii Sports Tennis.
By pressing the A Button, you can toss the table tennis ball up into the air. After throwing it up into the air, you must swing the Wii Remote to hit the ball. If you swing fast, the ball will move to the left of the opposite court, and if you swing slowly, the ball will move right. If you are somewhere in between, the ball will land in the center of the court.
Timing is everything. When the ball is being returned to your side of the court, you will be required to fire the ball right back at your opponent. If you don’t return it on time, the ball might not return to the place you want it to on the opposite side of the table. The same principles apply for when hitting it though; hit it fast and it will go left and hit it slow and it will go right.
Now, here’s where things start to become a little more complicated. If the ball is hit when out of reach or if the timing is off, a ‘Staggering’ condition occurs. When this happens, the play is briefly stunned. The only way to end this condition is by swinging the Wii Remote rapidly. On top of that, you can unleash a ‘Super Shot’ when an opponent loses their balance. When "!!" appears over your characters head, press the A Button to hit the ball back at a very fast pace. Your opponent will have to be lucky to be able to return this type of shot.
Graphically, Family Table Tennis looks decent. Though the graphics aren’t as good as Lost Winds’ or Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, Arc System Works has done a great job of making it look as good as possible. For 500 Wii Points, Family Table Tennis offers a uniquely vibrant looking game in a wonderful Japanese style. My only major problem with the graphics is that they lack textures in certain areas of the game, such as the beach stage. The game’s audio too is bit of a mixed bag. Sound effects sound convincing enough but the music is… forgettable.
Seeing as the game is entitled Family Table Tennis, you’re probably wondering where the ‘Family’ actually comes into the game. Like many other WiiWare games, Family Table Tennis has a multiplayer mode where two players can go head-to-head in some multiplayer action. Though there are three minigames that single players can engage in, they don’t allow more than one person to play. Disappointing. A game with the word ‘Family’ in it should appeal more to families rather than solo players but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Family Table Tennis.
All in all, Family Table Tennis offers a very enjoyable and –above all- affordable experience. Though the game isn’t perfect, Family Table Tennis’s low price makes it one of the best games on the Wii Shop Channel. Give it a try, at $5.00, you can’t really go wrong.
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