Wii Table Tennis - Quick Facts
Developer: Rockstar Leeds/San Diego
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Available: Late October
On one end of the spectrum, Rockstar have, in their possession, what is easily the most violent game on the Wii (and arguably one of the most violent console games ever made) – so violent in fact, the game has been shelfed and shushed by a number of rating boards around the world, and here in Australia, currently, is a game we dare not speak of (it's Manhunt 2, which is a shame because damn I want to play it). On the other end of the spectrum, they have Table Tennis.
Yep, odd as it may sound, the world’s most controversial developer/publisher have upped the anti-Rockstar ante with Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis. No, you don’t wail on opponents with table tennis paddles, nor do you shove ping pong balls down their throats. What you do is you play the best damn representation of this sport the videogame world has ever seen.
Actually, Rockstar released an Xbox 360 version of this last year. On the 360 it was a robust experience replete with great locales, and an even greater sense of customisation – do I want my player to wear a red
shirt or a blue
one? But seriously, there really isn’t a lot that can be done – aesthetically – to make table tennis that much more interesting, so Rockstar managed to pull off two things: The first is they created an unbelievably well-balanced play system (accompanied by excellent physics) that inspired truly epic rallies and competitive matches. The second thing they did was inject a dry Rockstar-inspired witty sense of humour. There was nothing more amusing than being on Match Point at a crucial moment of the game only to have someone from the crowd’s mobile phone ring – absolute gold.
The bottom line is, despite not offering up one element of killing, Rockstar still managed to create an unbelievably enjoyable game for the 360, but let’s get real here; if ever
there was a game just waiting to be brought to the Wii, it’s this, and given Rockstar’s new-found love affair with Nintendo, it was only a matter of time so AusGamers was invited out to Rockstar Sydney late last week to get hands-on and swinging-with Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis for the Wii.
The first notable difference between the Ninty version and the 360 is obviously in the visuals department. While there wasn’t much more than a few imaginative locations in the original, it still did look mighty pretty – on Wii, however, things take more than a backseat in presentation. Still, this is one of those “gameplay over graphics” occasions, and so Rockstar can
be forgiven (I’m still convinced there’s a lot more developers could be doing, visually, with Wii – look at Super Mario Galaxy), but if there’s a sequel *shakes fist
*. There are also two new control options created, the first, Standard, uses a set-up not too unlike that of Wii Sports’ Tennis offering. Essentially the game will move your character for you and so you’re simply left with serving and striking the ball. The second scheme, Sharp-Shooter, is built off the 360 version and so with the Nunchuk connected you can use the analogue stick for precision ball placement. And finally, Control Freak (the most advanced option), allows you to utilise the Nunchuk to actually move your player about.
Striking the ball is a simple matter of flicking the Wii Remote (you don’t need massive, over-the-top gestures), while holding down directions on the D-Pad will give the ball various types of spin such as backspin or topspin (this applies for all
controller types). The A button is used to put you into a serving stance where you gesture with the remote to lob the ball, flicking forward then serves and away you go.
Beyond the mechanical aspects of the game in the way of visuals and control schemes, the other stand-out element to bringing this title to the Wii is the concept of actually getting into
the game. There would be very little to point to playing this on the 360 standing up, yet on the Wii it feels like the only
way to play the game and with a friend next to you (and not having to take massively over-the-top swings at the ball), a far more immersive experience reveals itself.
While not breaking any visual barriers and certainly not carrying with it any of the bells and whistles most other Wii titles do, Rockstar Presents Table Tennis for Wii feels more fitting than most other games. The control settings on offer will find a place among various types of gamers from casual right through to the more hardcore, and each player can choose, individually, which style they'd prefer to play with which should make for a reasonably level playing field if you suddenly feel like challenging your 65 year-old uncle at Christmas lunch. So far there are no words on online play for Wii, extra characters, locations or more, but what we’ve seen so far is pretty damn cool. Make sure you stay tuned to AusGamers for our full review closer to the game’s late October release.