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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Ace Gals Tennis (XBLIG)

Ever since the inception of gaming, the market has been full of tennis-like games. With so many of these titles available, it could be difficult for a fan of the sport to determine what warrants purchase. Thankfully, Ace Gals Tennis is a worthy contender for your cash, serving up a great deal of content and genuine fun for about a dollar.

It would not be comfortable playing tennis in that

Right from the beginning, you’ll notice that this is tennis in its purest form. There are no gimmicks or unnecessary superfluities to clutter the gameplay. The control system is exceptionally simple, consisting of one button and the analog stick. You don’t have free control over your gal, instead watching her run automatically towards the ball ala Wii Sports. In order to achieve an “awesome shot”, you need to hit the ball at the very last second before it goes past your character. You also have to aim the ball to determine approximately where it will land when it reaches the opponent’s side of the court.

For such a simple control scheme, scoring a point shockingly feels like an accomplishment. This certainly isn’t a negative, as many tennis games fly by too frantic for my liking. Ace Gals Tennis forces you to be tactical about how you approach your opponent instead of mindlessly mashing buttons. At times, it feels like there’s an element of luck, but the gameplay is largely skill-based. The characters have their own individual stats and this adds an extra layer to things without sugarcoating them. All in all, it is an intriguing system that the designers built the game around.




There are two game modes on offer: Quick Match and Career. Quick Match allows a player to go against the CPU in a single match, while Career is a huge campaign with numerous tourneys to partake in against the computer players. While some of the tournaments are mere single matches, the average length of a game can be notably lengthy. The lack of multiplayer or a doubles option doesn’t hamper the experience, but it does leave the gamer speculating as to how much better the game would be with these additions.

Haruneko wasn’t holding back on content, as the game includes several unlockable characters and difficulty modes. In addition, there are achievements to help push the player to persevere through some of the tougher challenges. If you seek to unlock everything, the game could easily set you back over 10 hours. Not bad for a $1 game, no?

For a downloadable indie title, Ace Gals Tennis boasts remarkable visuals. Menus depict artistic 2D renditions of the women, while the game itself features Xbox avatars as the players. The game maintains a very clean and polished look throughout, almost rivaling some cartoony retail releases. On a less important note, one eventually notices that the crowd never reacts to the match, opting to stay completely still. It’s almost as if they’re cardboard cutouts or zombies. Intentional or not, the few visual quirks are rather amusing.

It's all about the timing


What does need to be said about the visuals is that some of the female trainers are questionably clad in their 2D artwork. They aren’t completely over the top in contrast to other video game women, but I don’t believe many would be complaining if Haruneko toned it down a bit for their future games, as in this instance it would have expanded their potential audience to include children.

The soundtrack, though limited, is apt and meshes with the tennis atmosphere nicely. The varying tracks that play during a match are remarkably diverse yet still manage to be engaging. I found myself bobbing my head to the music on more than one occasion.

Haruneko has another hit on their hands with Ace Gals Tennis. Its deceptively straightforward control system makes the game accessible to virtually everyone, but that doesn’t make it any less rewarding for core gamers. As far as downloadable tennis games go, you need look no further than Ace Gals Tennis, unless you absolutely need multiplayer or a doubles mode. It’s a really good game with forgivable faults and a title every tennis fan should take a shot at.

- Clark A


Review: Ace Gals Tennis (XBLIG)
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