John Ruskin, a popular socialist thinker of the 20th century, said that if you wrote a bad poem the most honourable thing you could do would be to not publish it so it wouldn’t waste peoples’ time and prevent them from reading good poetry. Whilst it’s not about gaming per say, I feel this idea is entirely applicable to Racket sports party. I don’t care what the development costs were like, the best thing Ubisoft could’ve done with this game would’ve been to have not released it and inevitably diverted consumer attention away from real games on the system. That said, anyone who browses the diverse catalogue of shovel-ware on the wii will realise quickly that racket sports party isn’t an isolated case.
The title is pretty much self explanatory. The idea is you’re given a simulation of five raquet sports and then you can invite your friends over and have a party around it. I’d advise against it however, as it’ll be one rubbish party. So the actual tennis mechanics are enjoyable enough for the most part. They feel a little spongy on occasion, (and the motion plus does nothing to help with this surprise surprise) but it gets the job done. So far so good with one out of the five sports being tolerable. So we move onto squash next. Whoops seems I accidentally picked tennis again, silly me. Oh wait no this is actually meant to be another sport. Needless to say the squash has almost identical physics and gameplay to the tennis (and last time I checked this wasn’t the case with real squash.) It’s a shame, but hey the next one is sure to be a winner right? So moving on we have… Beach tennis? What the hell is beach tennis? The only difference I noticed (aside from the abundance of sand courts) was that you can’t let the ball bounce. But that’s it. It’s unbelievable that they are advertising this as another sport. It’s just plain deceitful.
Now we move onto the badminton. It’s a little different in the movement and physics from tennis (but only a little), although it still seems weird in comparison to how I’d expect. Still it’s nice just to see it included, as badminton is a fine sport that is often overlooked in modern sports games. The only thing I just couldn’t get over was the incorrect scoring system. Now I’m no expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure you can’t score a point when you don’t have the serve, so what’s up with that being the system in the game. Sure I’m being a little picky here, but it just highlights the lack of thought that has gone into this abysmal title.
Last but not least we have the ping pong. I can’t even be vaguely positive about this. It’s just plain awful. The controls don’t respond properly, the whole thing is dull and slow and not to mention that it almost feels like its lagging the whole time. It’s so jerky it’s hardly playable and is just terrible when compared to the enjoyable table tennis game in Wii Sports Resort. While we’re on the issue of dodgy controls, there is an optional USB camera peripheral that supposedly tracks the player and helps the game further detect your movements. Now maybe you would consider this lazy reviewing on my part, but I refused to pay good money for an accessory that is only compatible with one game, and I’m sure most of the sane world would feel the same. So for all I know this could make the controls much more manageable. All things said, you hardly need accurate control methods as the AI opponents compete with the grace and dexterity of retarded gibbons. It’s like they just give up after the second return. The lack of any difficulty settings will further remove any sense of challenge from all but the youngest of players.
In terms of actual game modes, the playing field is just as dull and repetitive as the five sports themselves. You have a quick match mode to get you into a game quickly. Then you have a tournament mode, which is pretty much a series of quick matches one after the other. Then you also have the “around the world” mode, which is basically multiple tournaments linked together by an uninspired map screen. You have a choice of multiple courts and characters throughout the game modes, but they all look pretty similar and are a cosmetic triviality at the best of times. Am I the only one who’s starting to notice a pattern here?
To their credit an attempt has been made to introduce an experience points system that unlocks you new bats and accessories for your character. It’s quite badly done however, as the unlockables are just new skins with no game-altering properties whatsoever. It doesn’t help that the system basically imitates Wii Sports in a shameless and uninspired manner.
I’m almost tempted to go easy on the game’s visuals. They’re colourful and fun enough and after all, if you’re expecting photo-realistic graphics on the Wii, you’ve clearly come to the wrong place. At least this is what I thought to begin with. But then I remembered the graphics on Twilight Princess and the third Metroid Prime. They were immense! This title has no excuse. Wii game or no, the graphics are bad by any standard. The worst part has to be the animations. Last time I played a racquet sport I had to lunge to get a far away shot. Racket sports party would have me believe that teleporting over to the ball would be a better tactic. It’s literally like the animators got bored and just decided to leave the lunge frames out of the animation. It doesn’t help that the sound effects seem to lag behind the action on screen, although you’ll be hard pressed to notice considering how weedy and insignificant they are. The lack of background music and voice acting (although this is probably a thing best left unheard) further highlights the lack of effort that has gone into designing this poor excuse for a game.
I might be being too harsh on Racket sports party, but it’s almost an entirely redundant experience. Sure it might be moderately enjoyable if you had a few friends over, but I’m sure you would have a cheaper and more enjoyable time if you just went out and actually played a racquet sport. Likewise, the numbers look promising with a lot of modes, characters and sports to enjoy, but what’s the point when their all practically identical. The only thing this game does well is an incredibly basic tennis mechanic. This is nice enough and would warrant more than the low low score I’ve given, were it not for the fact that the Wii sports disc that everyone gets for free with their console does this more efficiently. Effectively you’re paying for something again that you already possess in a superior form. This makes racket sports party little more than daylight robbery. The irony is that the name of the game says it all. Over here in the UK where I’m based we spell a tennis racquet as “racquet”. So when I saw racket sport party, the way “racket” is spelt is how we’d refer to a loud and distracting sound. That’s all this game is. A petty and irritating distraction. Don’t let the budget price fool you, just ignore it and move on.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
An okay main tennis game, Not a lot else...
All the games are identical, Ping Pong is especially apalling, The free Wii Sports does a much better job
An embarassing excuse for a game that could only be considered a leech on both your money and your time