(Namco Bandai for PSP)
By Mike Delano
There must be something hardwired into gamers that makes them predisposed to liking tennis games. I guess tracing the entirety of the gaming experience back to the simple pleasures of Pong is the most obvious reasoning. How else to explain why there seems to be tennis franchises up the yin yang, spanning multiple consoles and installments, from Virtua Tennis to Hot Shots Tennis to the Top Spin series? Those are all in addition to the Smash Court series, now on its third time around the court. The game mounts a serious challenge to the Virtua Tennis series’ near-perfect blend of realism and pick-up-and-play arcade action, and even seems intent on battling its rival in the quirkiness department (it’s hard not to like Galaga and Pac-Man-themed tennis minigames). There’s nothing particularly unique here, just solid action, and more features and extras crammed into a PSP disc than are found on most console tennis games. It’s hard to imagine needing another portable tennis game beyond Virtua Tennis World Tour, but first-time buyers looking for something a little more involved should give Smash Court a look.