Ask any gamer who has even the slightest interest in the sporting world what type of game is sorely lacking love on modern day consoles, and a whole host will pipe up and mention tennis. Not since the heady heights of Top Spin and Virtua Tennis has there really been a tennis title that gamers could flock to. These two had it all, and for the time represented the very best ace hitting tennis experiences that we were after.
But then it all went quiet, with the odd quick hit arcade smashers coming along in dribs and drabs. That was until 2018 when the tennis gaming scene got sexy again, with the launch of not just one, but two games that attempted to replicate the real-world draw of the racket based game, filling the tennis void in the process. And whilst one of those games is worth playing, AO International Tennis, and the other, that of Tennis World Tour, has attempted a patch-filled comeback this year, the team at Unfinished Pixel obviously think that there is still room in the market for another tennis experience; albeit one that runs totally down the arcade route.
If I’m honest though, after taking in both of the ‘sims’ from last year, there really is nothing better than settling down with a tennis title that lets you just smash a ball around and have a real blast doing so. Seeing as Super Tennis Blast lives by that motto, it’s delightful to discover a pretty damn solid, hugely fun tennis game within.
Super Tennis Blast really is all about having fun, either alone or with your mates, forgetting about the serious side of the sport. Much like Unfinished Pixel did with Super Volley Blast, this tennis themed game most certainly forgoes realism in order to penetrate the fun side of the sport. Humour isn’t ever delivered in spades, however it’s good fun to watch your little character and their opponents covering the courts as fast, and as hard, as they can. The pace of the gameplay is pretty much spot on for what this arcade title attempts to bring too.
In fact, visually Super Tennis Blast nails the arcade aspects perfectly as well, with a bright enjoyable graphical style found in both the numerous character types available and that of the real-world inspired courts they will play in. When you consider the super deep avatar editor that is present, letting you randomise or customise nearly every aspect of your players to a great degree, it’s an absolute cinch to be able to create one of your choosing before thrusting them into action.
When that action arrives, it has to be said that it’s pretty standard arcade tennis fare, with a huge World Tour career mode as the main action holder, complemented with the chance to partake in couch based local multiplayer tournaments across both single and doubles matches. The up-to-4-player multiplayer side of things is great fun, with match rules amendable to allow you to deliver the optimum tennis gaming scenarios. Should you so wish you can also drop AI players in for good measure with numerous levels of artificial intelligence available.
As you would expect, the World Tour career really is the meat and drink of Super Tennis Blast though. It sees you taking control of a tennis no-hoper and pushing them through matches, tournaments, training weeks and rest days in order to take down multiple tournaments and move from 200th in the world, up to top spot. It’s a lengthy old affair too, with the World Tour taking place over the course of 52 weeks, with entry to specific events locked down to how your progression is moving. There will be times when you will need to weigh up whether to invest time in the latest tournament in order to move up the rankings a little more, to take in a period of rest to claw back some much needed stamina, or even partake in training sessions which will increase your ability across power, forehand, backhand, speed and serve skill sets. Only by dipping in and out of each across the weeks will you find your player becoming the well-rounded tennis star they are hoping to be.
Further to that career, and the tutorial will allow those unfamiliar with the game the chance to get to grips with the controls, while the fun mini-games let you go a bit deeper into ball placement and basic skills via a selection of clever ideas. With four difficulty stages ranging from Beginner right up to Legend for each of the 5 mini-games available, it’s a great way of wasting a little bit of time while still managing to hone your skills.
There is also the inclusion of a game mode from which the game gets its name, that of Super Blast. Playable again either alone or with friends, there are a couple of options here which see Super Tennis Blast really move away from any other tennis games that have been created. See, the Living Net and Crazy Court options pretty much do as they say on the tin; one seeing the net raising and falling throughout the match to create a massive obstacle, with the latter seeing the court shrink, squeeze, grow, and mutate as you play. As a loner, it’s probably not the most enticing of everything that Super Tennis Blast brings, but when you get some mates together for an evening of gaming, this Super Blast mode and all it brings allows for much frivolity.
As you would expect, no matter which of the modes you play, the gameplay mechanics in Super Tennis Blast really do need to hold up for it to be an experience you’ll want to go back to time and time again. Thankfully, for the most part, that is the case, with a simple control scheme that ensures your player will be able to cover the majority of the court, before playing a shot of your choice back across the net. Yes, it takes a little while to really begin to nail the precision needed in pulling off a match-winning passing shot, but navigating your guy or girl to decent court positions, before utilising the face buttons, works well. If you want to play a lob, you can, but similarly those flat shots and dinks to the net are hugely rewarding. Timing is key to how easy you’ll find success in Super Tennis Blast though and this is a game in which practice really does make perfect, allowing the opportunity to call on more powerful shots when needed.
All in all though and taking into account everything that is on offer, Super Tennis Blast on Xbox One is one of those games that you’ll have immense fun playing. Yes, it’s a shame that there is no online action, but no matter whether you are a solo player or one who can drag together family and friends for a ball smashing time, it will more than suffice. If you want realism, then you’ll need to go elsewhere, but for fun and well paced action, I’m not sure there are many better tennis titles out there.