Family Tennis (WiiWare)

Game Review

Family Tennis Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

By downloading this game, you agree to get served

One of the very first Wiiware games was also the first in Aksys’ “Family” series: Family Table Tennis. We gave it a fairly generous 5/10 score considering we labeled it “outclassed,” “hard to recommend” and even “un-loseable.” Well, it seems that someone at Aksys was paying attention as nearly all of our criticisms have been addressed in this new-ish release. But how much of an improvement has Aksys served up?

Of course, this is tennis and not table tennis. That means in addition to putting away the table, there are some significant rules changes here. We don’t need to go into detail on the intricacies of tennis, as almost everyone has had an opportunity to experience the game in Wii Sports. The real question is, “Is this worth purchasing when we already have Wii Sports?” And the answer to that is, “Maybe.”

One criticism we had with Family Table Tennis was its incredible ease of difficulty against the computer player. This has been a consistent problem in the Family series causing the games to lack replay value, as there is little or no sense of challenge. However, in Family Tennis the difficulty has been turned up to 11. Even experienced Wii Sports tennis players who have reached the highest difficulty opponents in that game will find Family Tennis to be a challenge against the computer. It’s not an impossible level of difficulty, but the game is almost too hard as there is no gradual increase in difficulty like in Nintendo's game. It’s almost as if Aksys assumed that you would play all the way through Wii Sports Tennis before downloading their game and are now looking for a greater challenge. In this way, Family Tennis has something to offer Wii owners in that the game offers a challenge above and beyond that found in Wii Sports.

Game play controls are familiar to Wii Sports players. They are a little easier in that you can swing in either direction and still hit the ball, but they are a little harder in that everything moves faster and so you have less reaction time. Unlike Family Table Tennis, the ball does not get progressively faster with each volley. Ball speed is more like Wii Sports and is in the hands of the player. But in keeping with the higher level of difficulty, everything happens a lot more quickly here and controlling the speed and direction of your volley must be done in a split-second.

One interesting feature is that if you swing too early or late, you may still hit the ball. However, your character will dive to hit it. You’ll return the ball over the net and enjoy a fleeting moment of excitement at your last-second save, but you’ll be on the ground while your opponent is setting up his or her own return and your character may not stand up in time. This feature adds more excitement but also an extra layer of difficulty. As mentioned, everything moves much faster in this game and so your window in which you can safely hit the ball without diving is narrow and you will miss it often while acclimating to the controls.

Another narrow window is found when you serve the ball. When serving, we found it much easier to hit the net than in Wii Sports. It’s also possible to hit the ball out of bounds, unlike in Family Table Tennis. Suffice it to say, the difficulty is higher here than it has ever been in a Family game.

It should be mentioned that, despite the higher sense of “realism” that Family Tennis may sound like it offers, it most certainly is not realistic in the sense of Wii Sports Tennis. The game features the special “smash” hit first seen in Family Table Tennis and has now been upgraded with a variety of special effects, such as one that can only be described as lobbing the ball at your opponent like an artillery shell that explodes on impact; it is most definitely not realistic.

The game can be played in either single matches or in an extended tournament. The player has the option to set the length of each match or tournament prior to play. In addition, the player can choose to play with up to three human opponents in multiplayer. This is an improvement over Family Table Tennis and putting it on par with Wii Sports. Sadly, the game still does not feature anything like a "career" mode, but the Family series has always been geared as casual and lacking this feature is not unexpected.

Of the three bonus modes found in Family Table Tennis, only one returns; however, it was our favorite mode, the “Thrilling” mode. This accurately titled mode was essentially the same game but with a new scoring system weighted to reward the player who wins after more extended back and forth volleys with more points. Our main complaint with this mode in Family Table Tennis was that it offered only a single player mode. Thankfully, this mode is back in Family Tennis and is as fully featured as the main game, including multiplayer. There are no other bonus features, but the other two found in Family Table Tennis were more tedious than fun and so their absence is not missed.

All of this game play improvement are balanced against an apparent graphical downgrade. Family Table Tennis, when set next to Family Tennis, looked sharper and more colorful. Family Tennis, by comparison, looks fuzzier and lacks some of the polish seen in that earlier title. Furthermore, the scenery is not quite as busy and detailed as before.


Family Tennis is a big step forward for the Family line of games. For the first time, Aksys seems to have focused on creating a challenge for experienced game players. Although the game is still intended only to be played in small doses, players will find far greater reward for their time investment here than in its predecessor. Although this game offers only a few tweaks on the formula set by Wii Sports, it offers just enough variety and extra challenge to make it worth your while once you have played Nintendo's pack-in to death.

From the web

User Comments (26)



Corbs said:

What? Did you notice the release dates section up above in the Game Overview?



BulbasaurusRex said:

I've barely made pro in Wii Sports Tennis, so I probably wouldn't like the difficulty in this game, Wii-Motion Plus isn't being used here, and Wii Sports Tennis is already such a great game, so I'll just stick with Wii Sports Tennis and Wii Sports Resort Ping-pong.



Useless_Account said:

Oh ok, that makes sense, I didnt look over there. Thanks. I didn't even know that the release dates were in the overview. I would just read and then wait for it to come out or go check myself but it's even easier now:)



pixelman said:

Great review, very informative. Still, I have a few questions:

1) Can you use the nunchuck to move?
2) How is aiming controlled? Time-based or thumb-stick controlled?
3) Is the multi-player good enough for two massive tennis fans to warrant a purchase?



vherub said:

I almost didn't bother reading the review, because the Family line has become synonymous with garbageware. This is a pleasant surprise.



luke17 said:

Sorry to bring this up again, but you are completely butchering tennis terminology in your review, and misusing the word "volley". A volley in tennis is when a player hits the ball before it bounces. You are attempting to use it in place of the terms "ground stroke", "rally", and "shot".
First use should be- "ball does not get progressively faster with each SHOT"
Second use should be "controlling the speed and direction of your SHOT" (Or you could use groundstroke)
Third use should be "extended back and forth RALLIES"

Just thought I'd mention it (as I did for the Grand Slam Tennis review), so you can have a more professional sounding review.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

I loved the stance you took with this review. And I'm very pleased to see the Family series has improved -- Pirate Party, then Mini Golf, flop with Slot Car but back to improving with Tennis. I may very well download this after all.

@longtimegamer: That picture looks like it's from a different game entirely. Deca Sports?



blackknight77 said:

"All of this game play improvement are balanced against an apparent graphical downgrade"

I'm a little dissapointed to see that the graphics took a hit in the version. From watching the video I thought the same thing, but now I see that is true. One of the best things about Family Table Tennis was the sharp cel-shaded visuals. Sad to see this one downgraded.



Astro218 said:

"I'm a little dissapointed to see that the graphics took a hit in the version. From watching the video I thought the same thing, but now I see that is true. One of the best things about Family Table Tennis was the sharp cel-shaded visuals. Sad to see this one downgraded."

That's sometimes the price you pay for better gameplay.

I've seen many, many pretty games get whomped in reviews because, big surprise, good graphics don't save the game from being awful.



orlick said:

I am starting to think you guys really over rate wiiware games. I mean, if the first game was that bad, why does it register as a '5' Is that really ana verage game? And this one is a 6, just a hop and skip away from achieving Twilight Princess level of quality....

A freaking one sport wii sports knockoff???

With no motion plus, no real innovation, no revelation, no real flair?

I feel tha




There's just so much tennis on the wii at the moment. I already have wii sports tennis (with Miis), NPC Mario Power Tennis and EA Grand Slam Tennis. I even recently sold my Sega Superstar Tennis because I had too many tennis games and I'd played that to death anyway!

So a clear, "no thank you" from me.

Still, could to see it isn't shovelware



JayArr said:

The banner for this review deserves a 10/10.

The game however.....meh.



FuzzyYellowBalls said:

Any word on SNES Super Tennis on VC?
Wishful thinking, I know, but I'm a huge tennis fan in need of an old classic!



pixelman said:

FuzzyYellowBalls FTW! It's not been ESRB rated, and as far as I know Nintendo hasn't released any information on it yet.



Gabbo said:

It sounds like you saw a clip of a cut scene that plays when you do a special shot. It's not actual game play footage.

We don't compare Wiiware and Retail disk games against each other. No (fair) review site could because if we did, we'd have to look at a game like Nyxquest and say that it pails in comparison to Twilight Princess. But that's not fair because they are two completely different platforms.

That would be like rating all of the Gameboy games we just recently reviewed poorly because they have stories and gameplay that are too simple, not to mention the black and white graphics. Games just have to be judged against other games on the same platform, otherwise you are judging the platform and not the game.



Gabbo said:

1) Can you use the nunchuck to move?
A: No, it is Wiimote only. There is a mechanic for moving around with the d-pad, but everything happens so fast it didn't seem like there would ever be much time for this. And characters move towards the ball automatically anyway.

2) How is aiming controlled? Time-based or thumb-stick controlled?
It's all in the wrist, as they say.

3) Is the multi-player good enough for two massive tennis fans to warrant a purchase?
Two tennis fans, absolutely it's worth the paltry 500 wii points. Two MASSIVE tennis fans are probably better off with a full retail release. As mentioned in the review, this is a casual game and offers nothing to reward repeat play or extended playing sessions. If you're going to be playing a lot of tennis, it's probably worth it to fork over the money for a bigger game.



y2josh said:

Sounds like I wouldn't want this seeing as I have EA Grand Slam Tennis.



FuzzyYellowBalls said:

Thanks for the info, pixelman. Mucho appreciation!
Still might pick this up one when I'm bored, being how I every other tennis game out there. Was just playing Mario's Tennis on the Virtual Boy until the red lines made my head a little wobbly!



pixelman said:

@Gabbo: Thanks. I already own Grand Slam Tennis, and I've been looking for something a bit more casual, but not as casual as Wii Tennis. Sad to hear that nunchuck support isn't there, but the game sounds fun and fast enough to overlook it. I think I'll give 'er a go!

Couple more questions if you have time - are tournaments just two rounds? I know you said there are options to set the length of a tournament, but there seems to be only four playable characters. Finally, are there multiple difficulty levels?

@FuzzyYellowBalls: Mucho welcome!

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