(3DS eShop)

Family Tennis 3D (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Family Tennis 3D Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Morgan Sleeper

A good second service

Arc System Works, most fondly known for the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series of 2D fighting games, also dabbles in the casual sports genre with its Family series for WiiWare. Those titles generally haven't been very well received, but the series' first entry into the eShop, Family Tennis 3D, is a happy reversal of that trend. It's fun, fast and charming — game, set and match.

Family Tennis 3D is an arcade-style take on classic tennis, starring a family of eight as the cast of playable characters. The main mode of the game is Tournament, in which you pick a character and play through four matches against different members of the family. The quest for familial domination will take you across six predictably themed courts, including a beach, a forest, a slippery ice castle and the moon (with accompanying gravity loss). There are three difficulty levels, and by completing Beginner you'll unlock Journeyman and Pro — beating the tournament on Pro unlocks character art in the gallery. It's easy enough to slice through Beginner, but by Pro mode the AI poses a real challenge. There's also Free Play mode, which allows you to choose your opponent, singles or doubles, court and number of games and sets, and a Quick Play mode that drops you instantly into a randomly configured game.

In addition to the main game modes, there are three mini-games on offer: Human Backboard, Survivor and Roulette Rally. Human Backboard is a rally contest (first to 100), and in Survivor you're tasked with beating as many family members in a row as possible. Roulette Rally is a more creative concept which has you aiming for panels with numbers indicating their point value on the other side of the court, trying to reach 1,000 points before your opponent. The catch is that if you lose control of the ball, you lose the points you'd gathered in that rally. It's fun and makes for a nice switch from the straight tennis action, though the other mini-games are unlikely to hold your attention for long.

The controls in Family Tennis feel quick and responsive, and there's a lot of depth in the various shot options. The face buttons cover the three main shots (topspin, slice and lob), with a dedicated jump button, while the Circle Pad both moves your character and determines the trajectory of a shot, as indicated by a marker on the other side of the court. More advanced shots can be made with either combinations of the Circle Pad and buttons (down and X for a drop shot, for instance), or by hitting the right button at certain times: pressing Y up against the net will yield a volley, while hitting A where the ball lands will send it over with a powerful smash. True to the accessible spirit of the game, there's an Easy Mode in the options menu which simplifies the shot controls down to just the A button, with the AI picking out the best shot for you every time. Regardless of how you choose to play, Family Tennis is quite generous in letting you dive for and connect with far-off shots, but it feels snappy and arcade-like, rather than cheap. The only exceptions are the jump shot combinations, which seem to require a much higher degree of precision and can lead to some spectacular and unexpected leaps over the ball.

Arc Systems' Guilty Gear heritage gets an unexpected nod here in the fighter-inspired Super Shots — show-stopping, lavishly-introduced smashes unique to each character that can be activated with the shoulder buttons when the Super gauge is full. These range from the kids' comparatively pedestrian super-speedy or zig-zag shots to Gramps' fantastically-named “Trigenerational Shot”, which returns two 'fake' tennis balls along with the real one, and Nan's “Telekineses Shot”, which lets you steer the ball directly before the first bounce. Daddy, whose bio reads “Always has a smile for his children, though he panics whenever Sarah cries”, has a super shot that “explodes upon landing, blowing the opponent away”. Incongruous, perhaps, but a lot of fun.

Graphically, Family Tennis 3D is a mixed bag. The 3D effect works well, and a few of the courts have some nice three-dimensional touches, like leaves or snowflakes falling gently in the foreground. Unfortunately the 3D effect also highlights the fact that most background elements in the game are of the cardboard-cutout variety, and they look extra out of place in stereoscopic 3D. That said, the character models are good and the colours are bright and cheery, making for an anime-inspired aesthetic. The audio side of the experience complements this nicely: tunes are catchy and upbeat, and the voices are in the original Japanese. Sarah's bawling every time she loses a point is as annoying as it sounds, but other than that the voice acting works well and adds some personality to the characters. So while the graphics aren't very impressive technically, when combined with the audio they form a charmingly light-hearted package. Watching both characters diving all over the screen and sliding on their faces during a heated back-and-forth, or seeing Gramps flip his racquet to ready his trigenerational tennis ball bonanza can be genuinely hilarious.

One drawback to Family Tennis is the lack of any multiplayer, which is particularly disappointing because the game would be so well suited to playing with friends. There also aren't any leaderboards, and the only mode that saves high scores is the Survivor mini-game, so your replay mileage will boil down to beating the tournament mode with different characters to unlock their art in the gallery, and playing single matches in Free or Quick Play. Luckily, the characters do feel different enough that it's enjoyable to play through with each of them, and the fact that Family Tennis is an eShop title helps here as well; it's exactly the kind of quick-fire gameplay that's fun to have in your 3DS menu for the odd spare moment.


Family Tennis 3D is a welcome dose of Japanese-flavoured tennis action that succeeds in its goal of being a game anyone can pick up and enjoy. Casual gamers can jump right in with Easy Mode, while more experienced players will still find a challenge on the Pro difficulty level. It's a shame that you can't throw down with anyone outside the family in a multiplayer mode, but even as a solo affair, it's a whole lot of fun. If you like arcade-style tennis that doesn't take itself too seriously, you should have a great time with this one.

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User Comments (28)




Like the first game, if they had just introduced Miis it might havebeen an insta-buy. I'll stick to Mario Tennis Open. Lack of multiplayer is actually quite shocking.

Besides that it sounds solid actually!



Flowerlark said:

I DLed this the other day. I've never played a tennis game before, and I quite like it.



warioswoods said:

The 3D effect on the trailer was downright broken. Many visual elements were out of sync between eyes and various UI bits were lodged deeper than their background, causing a heck of an uncomfortable mess to stare at. I'd recommend anyone at least watch the trailer before jumping on board... a smooth 3D effect matters to me, so there's no way I'd pick this one up.



C-Olimar said:

It's a shame that it doesn't have multiplayer, as download play or online would have made this worth more for me. I'll probably still get it when it comes to the UK though, as long as it is £5.40 or less.



RR529 said:

@warioswoods, the 3D in the trailer is NOT indicative of what's in the game. For some reason, the 3D got reversed so things that should be sinking in, are popping out, and vice versa. This is fixed in the game.

I agree with this review. It's a fun game, if nothing revolutionary.



Icefreak45 said:

I'll end up getting it sooner or later since I skipped out on Mario Tennis Open. Lack of multiplayer is a bit sad though



WiiLovePeace said:

Wow this sounds like a game I'd really enjoy & potentially cheap too... Now just to wait for it to be released in Australia...



FonistofCruxis said:

I don't normally buy tennis games but this actually looks like a lot of fun so i might buy this if/when it comes to Europe.



RR529 said:

Also, I just want to point out that the image you're using for the game (woman in red outfit, on a sand court), isn't from this game.

The beach court in this game, is played on a dock, and none of the female characters have a red dress (and aren't blonde).



warioswoods said:

Thanks for that info. It's strange that the trailer has those severe 3D issues, but good to hear that they aren't reflected in the actual game.



RR529 said:

@warioswoods, no problem. I still think there's something a little "off" about the 3D effect, but it's certainly not as bad as what's in the video.



zipmon said:

I see what you mean about the trailer - yikes! Thanks @RR529 for clearing that up - it,s definitely not an issue in the actual game!

@Yasume why thank you! =)



supercommando440 said:

Most developers will NEVER understand how/why leaderboards, user name entry (to CLAIM a high score), and stats are GAME SELL POINTS. SAD.



Nintendawg said:

I haven't had so much fun with a tennis game since Pro Tennis Tour on my old Amstrad 6128+. This game is perfection, in the sense that it is SO much fun! Voice acting is just hilarious! I also love it how mom and auntie fall flat on their b**bs when diving for shots!
The controls are spot on, too. Nice work.
Too bad about the missing multiplayer option indeed, but what can you do
matcho pointo!



Windy said:

This tennis game gets a 9 out of 10 from me. It's got all kinds of Charm and plays perfectly. I love the fact they left all the japanese voices in the game it gives the game an import feel. I love the music and the different tennis courts. The game doesn't get overly crazy with special shots and I like that fact. I give the game a 9 only because there is no online Multiplayer play which would have given this a perfect score. This is a great pick up at 6.99 or wait for a weekend sale. if they ever have another weekend sale. They didn't have a game of the week this week. I'm not going to do a long Drawn out review i'm just telling people this game is really good plain and simple! Family Tennis 3D is by far the best game I've downloaded from the Eshop. Oh wait a second I also downloaded Mutant Mudds and The Mighty Switch Force and those are pretty darn good also.

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