(WiiWare)

Game Review

Family Table Tennis Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

Will table tennis fans rally behind this challenger to Wii Sports?

Family Table Tennis is the first WiiWare game to directly compete with Wii Sports and Wii Play -- two games that almost every Wii owner already has. So, is it a waste of your hard earned Wii Points, or a fun, new experience that can be enjoyed alongside Wii Sports Tennis? Read on to find out!

Table tennis (better known to some under the trademarked name of ‘Ping Pong’) has rules similar to regular tennis, but differs greatly in that it is generally played on a table in your basement rather than on a tennis court, and players use paddles instead of rackets. But those differences (significant in the real game) are irrelevant in a video game presentation such as this. The player seldom will notice any difference between the paddles in this game and the rackets in Wii Sports. In the end, it’s all just swinging the Wiimote, after all.

That said, the Wiimote controls are reasonably good. The strength and timing of your swing will result in similar motions made by your character on screen. There are four playable characters to choose from, but they have no noticeable impact on game play. Take note that there is not an actual one-to-one match between your motions and your character’s motions.

Three deliberate design choices keep this game from being a realistic representation of table tennis. First, no matter how poorly you swing, it is impossible to miss the table. Regardless of your skill, as long as you can hit the ball it will always land somewhere on your opponent’s side of the table every time.

Second, no matter how hard you swing, the ball will always move at a predetermined speed, set by how many times the ball has ‘rallied’ (how many times it has been hit). The more times you and your opponent hit the ball back to each other without missing, the faster the ball will go.

And lastly, you can hit the ball by swinging in either direction, regardless of which side of your character the ball is on. Changing the direction of your swing will change the direction that the ball moves in, but you are not required to do so as you can accomplish the same result by simply adjusting the speed with which you swing. In fact, the instructions advise you to do so.

Speaking of instructions, there aren’t many. But the only thing you really need to know is how to do the “Super Shot”. This is a smash that is virtually un-returnable by your opponent, and it is only available when a pair of exclamation marks appears over your head. The instructions inaccurately state that you press the A button to perform this special swing, but in reality you must hold the A button while swinging.

If you are at all experienced with Wii Sports Tennis, or the version of Table Tennis packed in with Wii Play, then you should have little trouble returning the ball in this game. And that is essentially the only challenge to this game. As long as you can hit the ball, it won’t matter too much where you place it. The winner is the person who doesn’t miss. As a result, in a versus mode game, so long as each player has had at least 20 minutes to learn how the game handles, the winner will likely be decided by whomever is lucky enough to get a Super Shot first.

When you become bored with the single player main game there are three mini games for you to check out, the first being ‘Target TT’. We actually think this serves as a good tutorial for the game and new players won’t go wrong with trying this first. It is simply a hit the target game. The opponent is there simply to hit the ball to you, which you must return and get as close as possible to a red target on the table. The only thing to do here is try to beat your previous time, so it’s a low pressure way for new players to get the feel of the paddle and see how the ball moves in relation to their swings.

The second mini game is ‘Thrilling TT’. It is played like the single player main game, except the scoring is changed to award you points based on rallies. The more rallies, the more points the winner receives. We think this would have made an excellent alternate rules set for experienced Versus players looking for a variant that rewards skill a bit more. Sadly, this mini game is single player only, and just as un-loseable as the regular single player game.

The third mini game is ‘Matching TT’. It's another target hitting game, but instead of hitting red targets, you’re now sorting fruit to either the left or right side of the table. As an added complication, you get negative points if you don’t hit it in the right place. This one is a lot more difficult than anything else in Family Table Tennis, but like everything else here it takes just one game to get the hang of it. After that you’ll struggle only to beat your previous high scores.

The mini games also provide a change of scenery, which you’ll be in need of as there are only four venues in which to play the main single or versus game. The cell-shaded anime style is pretty, colorful and friendly for children, and not overly embarrassing for an adult. The game looks attractive, but not astonishingly so; we have to wonder if a better Table Tennis game could not be made to take up the same amount of space by simply using Miis and the Wii Sports animation style.

The music is terrible, as should probably be expected. Mercifully, you don’t need audio for anything, so you can just mute your television for the duration. If for some reason you actually enjoy the music and decide to keep it, you should at least use the game’s solitary customizable configuration setting to disable the characters’ speaking voices. Surprisingly, doing so actually makes the whole game feel a bit more polished.

Overall, family table tennis is a very shallow game. After one or two games you should be able to win against the computer every time. The mini games are also only good for a few minutes. Only versus mode has any repeat value, so make sure you have at least one friend (locally—there is no online mode!) to play with. Don’t expect any kind of tournament ranking structure. This is just for friendly pick up play only. What’s tragic is that it’s not a bad game and potentially a good choice for children who find Wii Sports Tennis to be too difficult, but there is too little substance to keep the average gamer entertained for more than an hour. Compared to the real-life table tennis game (which is so much more fun than this imitation) that is not very much enjoyment at all.

Conclusion

Although Family Table Tennis is more complete than the Table Tennis game found in Wii Play, its single player is greatly outclassed by the single player mode in Wii Sports Tennis. Its only advantage over that game is that it doesn’t require a disc, so you can quickly load it up and play during those boring telephone conversations with you-know-who. Multiplayer (its best mode) compares more favourably, but Wii Sports Tennis is still a better choice due to its slightly more sophisticated control scheme, and less reliance on luck. Even at 500 Wii points it’s hard to recommend Family Table Tennis.

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User Comments (35)

Zork2

#4

Zork2 said:

I bought the game and I think it's good. It's true that it does not have any of the depth of Wii Tennis, but that's not the point. It's a game you can play with kids and non-gamers. From that standpoint it succeeds admirably, and the price is right :)

Boringman54

#6

Boringman54 said:

I'll pass. I'd rather get Metal Slug that came out this week too, even if it is 400 Wii Points more than this.

CorbsAdmin

#8

Corbs said:

I liked it and my wife LOVES it. We stayed up late playing it last night. I'll admit, the surround sound hits a bit hard at the end of a game and startles me every time. If you have a good setup, be forewarned. :)

And great review Spencer! VERY informative and thorough.

MrPoo6321

#10

MrPoo6321 said:

this game looks mildly entertaining.... if you want a better family game, get Boom Blox

KnucklesSonic8

#11

KnucklesSonic8 said:

5/10. Wow. I thought it'd get a 7, tbh. Well-written, indeed.

I'm still debating if I should get it one day. :o

AlexSays

#12

AlexSays said:

@ Corbie
between this and Critter Round-Up, it seems as if you spend more of your time playing the lesser quality games. :p

@ KnucklesSonic8
i was expecting this game to be lower, and definitely not 7.
i was thinking around a 4, because to me its as shallow as Critter Round-Up (which got a 4)

and thanks to this review, i won't be playing Table Tennis on my Wii anytime soon. :)

GabboStaff

#14

Gabbo said:

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

To clarify the score, WWW considers a 5 to be 'average'. Meaning not a bad game, but not really good either. Compare this game to Dr. Mario's replayability (especially with online play) and you'll see why that game has so much more to recommend it. Whereas this game just screams 'average'.

Jona

#15

Jona said:

this game is really good. i giv it a 9/10 and this game is funner than stupid rallyin on wii play, its minigames hav a lot of depth and makes this game's ping pong better than MSOG's ping pong and better than wii tennis. if their was sum sort of unlockables or pro status on this game it cud b amazingly good. seriously just because wii-ware world says its 5/10 doesnt meant its bad. if u like ping pong u shud seriously consider buyin this game. dont get defend ur castle u can play that onthe internet channel or on ur computer! (slap across face)

CorbsAdmin

#16

Corbs said:

Well this past weekend here's what I've played: Ikaruga (Dreamcast), Super Metroid (SNES), and I'm playing through Chrono Trigger (SNES) right this minute. So while I'll give anything a try, I still prefer the good stuff. :P

Rawk_Hawk

#18

Rawk_Hawk said:

Is the control better than say Sega superstar tennis? I found the control in that game to be dissapointing. Thats why I have my reservations about downloading this title

Chris_Davis

#19

Chris_Davis said:

This game looks ok but seing as it is getting an "Average" score of 5/10 i think I will pass.

Rawk_Hawk

#20

Rawk_Hawk said:

I just downloaded this last night. Its not bad for 500 points. The control is pretty good and I would say its better than Sega superstar tennis at full retail price. This is best with 2 players

Another good Wii Ware title

Rawk_Hawk

#22

Rawk_Hawk said:

IGN panned this game. I know its not Wii Sports Tennis, but still is fun.
I am going on the Nintendo channel and give this game the highest rating just to spite IGN.

Jockolantern

#23

Jockolantern said:

Took my Wii to my parents' house on my recent vacation and we had a whale of a good time playing tournaments of this game. It's nothing terribly deep yet the gameplay is still quite good and rather addictive. For $5, it's a terrific party game.

KnucklesSonic8

#24

KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Tony: SST is awesome. I HIGHLY doubt this would EVER surpass it. It had its shortcomings but they are far outweighed by how much enjoyment I get from that awesome title. :D

I'm glad to hear you guys are enjoying it. But the memory is a turn-off for me... Is it worth it?

Peznaze

#26

Peznaze said:

I don't get it... 500 points for what's essentially a mini-game in Mario Party, Wii Sports, Wii Play, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, WarioWare, etc.. etc... And it's selling? Better than everything but Defend Your Castle and branded games? How?

I guess the commercial's true, people love to eat $5.

Peznaze

#27

Peznaze said:

"In fact, the game’s simplicity would actually be perfect for children who find Wii Sports Tennis to be too difficult."

Heh.. The data from the Nintendo Channel confirms this. The only statistically significant results were filed under the <13 age category - meaning the person who enjoyed this game the most in 100% (+/- some error) of the cases was a child, probably a young one.

GabboStaff

#28

Gabbo said:

@Peznaze: Thanks for sharing that data! I haven't bothered to download the Nintendo Channel, so I would have missed it.

KnucklesSonic8

#29

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Nice observation, Peznaze. That doesn't surprise me at all, to be honest, but I'm sure some of an older youth audience may have found this game appealing at first due to the pick-up-and-play appeal of the game.

But maybe they didn't even find enough interest to play for at least an hour to be able to recommend it? XD

God

#30

God said:

this is only fun when your playing with other people, single player is just wack

CanisWolfred

#32

CanisWolfred said:

I'm not to fond of the art style, but maybe I'll, consider it. My brother loved the Wii Sports tennis, and this honestly sounds a lot like it, so maybe I'll finally have a Wiiware game that he actually will want to play.

This game was made by Aksys? From River City Ransom to Family Table Tennis. How the mighty have fallen...

SRPirate

#33

SRPirate said:

this game looks so horrible, the graphics are really bad, just pay $50 to get wiiplay, and play much better ping pong, plus 8 other games, with a free wiimote

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