Minna no Tennis Portable
Current Game Specific Guides:
- Menu Translations
Minna no Tennis Portable Review
Minna no Tennis Portable [MinteniP] is the first Minna no Tennis to be released on the Sony PlayStation Portable. It is known as Everybody’s Tennis or Hot Shots Tennis and is also the second in the Minna no Tennis franchise from Clap Hanz. Sadly there is no Online mode for this version of the game but we will get into that later… If you have played the original Minna no Tennis on the PlayStation 2 you will notice a few changes to the game play, some of which you will find is an improvement to the feel of the game and others you may feel needs some more work. On the other hand if you have played the Portable Minna no series you may find a lot about this game quite familiar, especially if that Portable game was Minna no Golf Portable 2. With 15 playable characters to customize and 8 referees with 16 playable courts to choose from it seems decent for a tennis game… of course you could argue that quite a bit of the assets are recycled from the other Portable series. I spent about 25~30 hours to perfect the game, with the exception of the final medal/achievement of 100 hours game time. Considering the original title was completed in under 10 hours game time, they added a few things to keep me going for longer this time…
Moving along let’s talk about the differences between Minteni and MinteniP:
- Perfect Impact… What I enjoyed about the original was that Perfect Impact mattered, it was even a stat that was recorded or displayed to you after each round you played. However in MinteniP Perfect Impact has less meaning and is only a sign that you hit the ball in the sweet spot, there is a slight speed increase in the shots but is not as much of an impact as it was in the original. Serves no longer require Perfect Impact to be good but instead just rely on your timing to hit them.
- Character Status… The stats are different this time around, instead of [Serve, Stroke, Volley, Impact, Foot Work, Stamina and Play Style] MinteniP uses [Power, Control, Speed, Impact, Stamina and Play Style] the rest of the original statuses became attributes such as if the character is good at serving or smashing. Not sure if this needed tweaking but it fits slightly better with the Portable series…
- Rackets and Costumes… One of the things I felt missing from the original was the use of equipment or gear for your character, in MinteniP this was changed and we are given the option to select from a wide range of rackets and parts for your character which can boost some of the character’s status. This was a good move for the series and makes it feel more like a Minna no Game.
- Rabbit and Turtle Impacts… The original birth of Rabbit and Turtles was due to this series, but what have they done now? To help understand what or how badly you are playing you are now given a number [1~9] along with the rabbit or turtle symbol. This shows how early or late you are hitting the ball, 1 being not too extreme and 9 being extremely early or late…
- Special Shots… Many changes were made to what special shots are available in the game. This in more detail later, but as an example there is no more â–³ Lob Smashes where in the original game during a smash chance you use the lob button to hit a lob with a smash animation but it flies high and falls like a lob.
- Charged Shots… New to MinteniP. Works a little like a Perfect Impact Shot in the original game…
Well then, now for some game play… Minna no Tennis is a simple to play tennis game that uses â–³ [Triangle] for Lob Shots, â—‹ [Circle] for Top Spin/Flat Shots and Ã— [Cross] for Back Spin/Slice Shots. Unlike other tennis games, you don’t need to hold the buttons to prepare to hit your shot or charge your shot for a more powerful hit. Minteni works where you aim to position your character and play your shot when the ball comes within range. As mentioned before, new in MinteniP is charged shots… from the beginning you will be able to hit charged shots which increase the speed of the shot, as long as your character stands still for one second an aura will appear and the shot your hit with the aura active will become a charged shot. This was a nice touch as it teaches you to be patient with some shots in order to play a better shot… though I do miss perfect impacting shots to fast or easy victories.
So what about the Game System… Clap Hanz decided to abolish the Challenges System established in the MingolP series and also used in Mingol5 for a Story Mode with a Role-Playing Game System. The story is about you being a member of the “Happy Tennis Club” and your friends/club members are spreading your Tennis of Happiness to people around the world so that they can enjoy the fun of tennis. As you are doing this, you win costume parts and items from the players and receive gifts from spectators [or gallery]Â as you advance through. While meeting new friends/club members you will once again face the Loyalty System that Clap Hanz has been increasingly supporting over the years… as you stay loyal to a character, that character will gain extra abilities… [Ability to gain stats from costumes, Closet space, Use better class rackets, Â Air Shot, Flat Serve, Rising Shot and Camera angles.] Not sure if the Role-Playing Game System was a requirement, but it was quite fun to play through and did make the game last a bit longer than just a bunch of challenges to play through.
So… Special Shots? Personally I am a bit on the fence for some of the changes made to special shots. I liked the original where Perfect Impact serves can become quite rewarding that it gives you a Kick Serve or a Perfect Impact Slice Serve can become a strong Snake Serve… instead Perfect Impact on serves don’t exist in the Portable version, and you cannot do a Lob Serve either… So what they have given us is a Flat Serve when you serve with the â–³ [Triangle]. Think of it as using Full Power in Mingol series… the serve is hard to control and easy to fault if you mis-time it slightly. It’s a nice replacement but it would have been nice to keep Perfect Impact for serves as well. Then there is also Air Shots, another ability gained from loyalty grinding… and one that hardly seems to come out or used. Air shots are shots you hit that are half way between a smash and a stroke shot, it is a jumping stroke shot with the power of a smash behind it but you need to stand in a certain position to hit it. The other special is the Rising Shot, this is when you hit the ball right after it bounces with Perfect Impact. Rising Shots are more reliable to use than the other shots and just needs practice, but that’s out of the question since there is no Training Mode in this version.
Foot work and positioning seems to play a larger role in this version, if you want Perfect Impact more you will need to play your foot work and positioning better. This can also allow you to hit what the game called Hard Shots and good positioning will let you hit more charged shots, you can also do small steps while charged without losing the charge. I felt these changes were nice but again not having Training Mode does make practice hard. I mean how hard would it have been to create a little tennis cannon that lets you position and shoot shots to you? or even shoots shots at you in a random or set pattern?
There is not much point in writing about the courts though, they are all the same with different environment variables for the speed and bounce of the ball along with someÂ obstacles… sometimes changing courts gives you a better advantage against a few computer opponents, other times the obstacles and variables does play against you and you find yourself tripping or hitting them while lobbing the ball. You’re often trying to remove an obstacle when you hit a winning shot so that the next service starts without that obstacle… that seemed a little flawed.
Character customisation was something I had looked forward to after the first Minteni didn’t have any sort of it. Originally I had hoped for the equipment/gear to be something along the lines of Racket and Shoes, but when I played through it I realised that the Portable series style of character costume customisation and the status gain from certain set ups works quite well and probably better than my original thoughts about equipment/gear. Thumbs up to Clap Hanz on improving the way equipment/gear is used. It is also interesting that unlike MingolP2, the status gain is now different for every character even if you put on the same costume… This makes it really hard to find good set ups for every character… but they added a nice Randomise function to the customise interface, so you could stumble upon a 15 star costume by just randomly generating your parts… It’s a little like playing the lottery though… Heh.
Multi-playerÂ Mode is probably where this game aims to shine… unlike Mingol series, the Minteni series is probably a lot more multi-player friendly and fun. There are several modes for multi-player and though I would like to say Clap Hanz did a great job of it, there was some things that I felt could have gone a push further. As an addition to Single Player, another player with the game can join during a doubles game if the host selects the Co-Op character on the character select menu for your partner. This is a great feature as the AI for doubles can be quite pathetic at following up and sometimes is a ball hog or completely misses easy shots while standing in position for a shot for over a second…Â frustratingÂ especially when you are aiming to perfect the opponent pair. Having your friend come Co-Op with you means this problem easily goes away… The fun part of multi-player is being able to see the customised characters of your opponents, as they may have found a high star rating costume that actually looks decent.
Game-Sharing Mode… well this is new to the Portable series, despite Game-Share isn’t exactly a new function… the really nice thing is that Clap Hanz made the Game-Share client download a special Game-Share version of the game onto your Memorystick which means that you never have to go through the Game-Share process again in order to play a quick match. The downside is the owner of the original game software has to host a special game-share room in order for the Game-Share versions to get a game going… this meant that even the person with the full game is limited to the same two characters [Emi/Ban] and the limited range of character parts that the share version has. At least give the Game-Share version four characters so that doubles wouldn’t look so unoriginal. Another thing is, you cannot Co-Op with the Game-Share version… so you’re basically giving a demo to your friends that they can only play when you are around. Where as I know of a few other games which have Game-Share versions that allow you to host games or even play the full game with the owner of the original game software.
Online Mode? Moving on to actually playing with players… as I said there is no Online Mode, but this can be overcome if you have a PlayStation 3 which means you can use Adhoc Party to connect to other players. Surprisingly through this system the game runs quite smoothly and I find that Clap Hanz did a really good job coding the networking together, because I noticed little lag playing against a friend in Japan. A fast paced game usually struggles for me when playing with people in Japan [which was why Mingol was so perfect in the first place as it only needs to send data after the shot is hit], but I didn’t expect MinteniP to run so well through Adhoc Party. It then makes me question why they didn’t just put a proper Online Mode into the system. Seeing that MingolP2 has an infrastructure server that connects to other players using an XML file… doesn’t seem like it was too far fetched.
Positive aspects about MinteniP, the game is heaps of fun. The thing I notice when I hand these games to other people to play is that with Mingol series they kind of don’t get it… but with Minteni series they start not really into it but once it is in their hands they go crazy. The improved Game System and Game Play makes the game nicer to play and lasts longer than the original Minteni, despite losing the emphasis on Perfect Impact when you play through it you will feel the changes made make more sense. In tennis it really isn’t about how well you can hit shots, but more about if you can land two bounces in your opponents court so anything goes as long as it is in. The new character customisation really makes the game last long after you finish the game and max out the items. You can sit there playing with different set ups working your way to finding the best looking or most rewarding costumes. It is a solid PlayStation Portable Game…
Negative aspects of MinteniP as a whole, there isn’t much… most are either nitpicking at some differences between the Original Minteni and the other is probably the lack of Multi-player Modes/Online Mode despite their networking code was done so well and that the MingolP2 server isn’t anything more than a web server [which is the reason why if someone else disconnects during a game with you, you also disconnect or get kicked out of the tournament as no one else is connected/hosting]… Crippled Game-Share version leading to a crippled multi-player experience is a little depressing too. The Game-Share version should have allowed you to play with a host with full support of what is available to the host, such as Co-Op and other characters the host has unlocked… or if the client installed was crippled in the first place, why not allow the Game-Share to play similar to the Demo version… I mean there is no loss right? It would make more sense since it is crippled anyway and it does install onto the Memorystick and it gives moreÂ incentive for the person to keep the Game-Share version rather than delete it when no one is around to host for them.
Recommendation… well this time the Demo doesn’t do this game justice [as it was made to demo the game at the Tokyo Game Show and was months before it was to be released and was more like a prototype]. If you have played Minna no Tennis or Minna no Golf Portable 2 and enjoyed that experience then this game will keep you hooked for awhile… with the addition of a PlayStation 3 and Adhoc Party the game can go a long way. However even if you haven’t experienced those other games or have access to Adhoc Party, Minna no Tennis Portable is very friendly to pick up and go… it will also be a hit with friends who have PlayStation Portables as you can Game-Share to them and have a little fun… but don’t expect that to last too long unless they have the full version as well.
Rating… I really enjoyed the original Minna no Tennis and feel that for a first time attempt at a different game it was alright for how it was. Probably would have given it a 8 out of 10 on those merits, except this is it’s Portable version we are talking about… after two iterations of Minna no Golf [Mingol5 and MingolP2] this is what Clap Hanz has developed. It is actually also one of the many PlayStation Portable titles that Clap Hanz has released. Role-Playing Game Story was a nice touch and the changes that make it better than the original are evident. However the game clearly is not perfect… and could have used the extra infrastructure mode to give it more replay value [Unlike Mingol… Minteni can get repetitive when your opponent is the key to what keeps you coming back]. If there was an Online infrastructure mode it would keep you playing and searching for opponents and checking out their customised characters. Tennis rounds are shorter than Golf rounds, so quick online matches can get quite addictive especially with random people. There isn’t as much need to comment or chat to them except for the beginning and end of each match. For this reason, the rating doesn’t really improve over the original as they are equally as fun but equally limited in replay value without fresh opponents to play against. Hence Minna no Tennis Portable is also… 8 out of 10. Will look forward to Minna no Tennis Portable 2 though… or even Minna no Tennis 2 on the PlayStation 3, sharing the same lobbies as Minna no Golf 6 and using the customisable characters or parts from the Portable series for the lobby avatars.
- PlayStation Portable Display 480×272.
- 1~4 Player Playstation Portable Adhoc Support.
- Optional Game Data Install: 340MB Memorystick Space.
- Stereo 2ch Sound.
- No Online Infrastructure Support.
- No PlayStation Network Support.