#702 Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis

Posted: 1st June 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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58th game played so far

Genre: Sports
Platform: Xbox 360, Wii
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Publisher: Rockstar Games

If ever there was a game that could be inspired by an AIR song it would be this one. Yes ‘Kelly Watch The Stars‘ is not exactly the sort of song you would associate with gaming but when there is a realistic depiction of table tennis on offer you can bet Moon Safari will be playing in my mind.

Our Thoughts

And so here we already go full circle, from table tennis game to table tennis game. I think the weirder thing to note is that of all the Rockstar developed games on the list we have first chosen to do the only one where you are unable to maim people. Unless you count the possible trajectories of rogue ping-pong balls. I suspect they won’t do more than leave a bruise. Unlike paintballs which, as Byker Grove taught us, can blind you. Or hurt you far more than a ping-pong ball, as a particularly fierce game taught me.

The title of the game really says all about what it is, and that’s pretty much what it is. No complicated submodes, no special features, just playing table tennis versus CPU or player. In the race to make games with all the features under the yellow sun it is somewhat a breath of fresh air to have a game which is so focussed on one thing and decides to do it very well. Some would say that it was a test-run of the RAGE gaming engine which would later go on to power the likes of Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. However, one thing that I would say about this is that it was a rip-off at the original release price. Since we got this second-hand in a Game in York I feel we got it for a steal. Yeah, 5 pounds for this game is a very good deal. Full price for a game like this… Because it does the one thing well, it doesn’t do more, and while it’ll hold your attention, it doesn’t do it in a way that, say, Fallout 3 does. It’s a good game, and a great try at the engine, but it’s not a full game. Well, not in the current climate… in the amount of gameplay, this game lags a few years. This game was released a bit before downloadable content made it big. If this was made now I can see it being up on offer on Xbox Live instead. Yeah, that makes sense for this game. Perhaps they should, it would be worthwhile if they could do it. We appear to be underselling this game (excuse the pun). In a way, yes, but it would serve as a good warning not to expect ten storylines and lots of background. There’s less of a storyline than your standard fighting game… and that’s saying something.

What the game does, it does well: allow you to play table tennis, in a way that works well despite the limits of the controller. I have to admit that I was very impressed how they were able to bring table tennis to life using shoulder and coloured buttons as well as the joystick. During the tournament mode I actually felt my heart beating fast as I got further and further into it. It was quite frustrating to see him do not entirely 10-0… Someone… was not happy. True, this was not a cakewalk of a game. Each player has their own strengths and weaknesses which mean some can be hell for amateurs like us to play against.

One way you can try to level the playing field is with focus shots which, on the 360, are activated using the right shoulder button. This slows time down and allows you to make difficult shots which can either allow you to win the point or to stretch your arm out to prevent your opponent from scoring a winner. Making for not just an easier moment, but also a fairly exciting more cinematic game. Even more interesting to watch that way – even if you’re not playing. It also makes for better screenshots. Very true. Except for the blur, of course. It also helps to showcase the graphics, which are pretty damned good. As the game progresses your player actually begins to glisten with sweat.

In the end this is a nice little sports game to waste an afternoon on but not much else to be honest. However, it stands as the best and arguably most realistic attempt ever made to bring ping-pong to the home console. And with it being available for cheaper now you know where to look, it’s worth going after it to spend an afternoon on it. And possibly another one too. Pick up, play and try more. All available from your local second-hand game retailers.

Final Thoughts

So many people have sold this game off to the likes of Gamestation, Game, CEX and HMV (all fantastic stores) so they can invest in the newest games. This is great for the likes of us and is also for the likes of you. If you can pick this up for less than a fiver I suggest you to pick it up as it is well worth it as both a sports title and a mild video-gaming curiosity.