However, we're puzzled -- according to the localization director at Namco Bandai, "there isn't really a story" in the game. Beyond the fighting, there isn't much else to do, although he noted that there's Naruto's Room --a place where collectible images and videos can be viewed.
Supposed "technical limitations" prevented the game from getting Infrastructure multiplayer, something that we would've loved to see in the game. However, the Game Sharing feature seems to be fairly advanced, giving players with access to the game "as normal."
We're a little disappointed to see the game doesn't have a fleshed out story, as the original PS2 series. Hopefully, the gameplay will make that point irrelevant. For now, enjoy the new screenshots we've secured in our updated gallery below:
It's clear from the moment you begin the game that Smash Court Tennis is easy on the eyes. The menus are easy to read, and fairly stylish. The graphics look very sharp on the PSP, with little to complain about. The text overlays that appear during matches are sleek and professional. The game certainly does a great job with visual presentation.
For a PSP game, it certainly impresses. The cel-shaded graphics look quite remarkable on the PSP's smaller screen. Since the PS2 original didn't use the analog sticks for fighting, the controls have translated quite well on the portable. We were really surprised by the game's quick load times, which lasted for only a few seconds. In fact, we'd surmise that the game loads much faster than its PS2 counterpart.
Although the fighting engine in the Ultimate Ninja series has never been celebrated for its depth, it does faithfully recreate the battles found throughout the Naruto series. Quick dodging, counters, and special moves are key to victory, and the PSP version is no different. We don't know if we were doing something wrong, but we found that the Chakra-based special attacks were limited in the PSP edition. While in the PS2 versions, each character could have up to 4 different attacks, we only saw one. Also, the "tag team" element of the game doesn't involve active switching of characters. Rather, each team of three sends out a single fighter, and when a character gets KO'ed, the next character in the roster jumps in. To be honest, we were hoping for more team-based gameplay.
Overall, we were impressed by Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes. It offers a solid fighting engine that's faithful to the anime, and its quick load times, large character roster, and use of Game Sharing, make it potentially the best anime licensed fighter on the system.
We're most impressed by the game's stellar production values. The menus simply look gorgeous. The camera moves in a nice, cinematic way, and the text overlays border on sexy. Load times are incredibly brief, rarely interrupting gameplay. The graphics look solid on PSP's diminuitive screen, and the animations, for the most part, are detailed and fluid.
There's a lot of potential in Smash Court Tennis, and we're sure that its various game modes will offer a lot of value. The tutorial mode has been excellent, and we've enjoyed playing simple matches of tennis. Arcade, Pro Tour and Challenge modes look to offer a significant amount of gameplay. The build that we've played does have some very noticeable glitches, though. There are some missing animations and graphics, especially when playing near the edge of the court. At times, it appears that there's no way to exit back into the menu. We're hoping that these issues get cleaned up by the game's final release -- if so, we could be looking at a winner. We'll be giving you more info on the game as we get closer to its release.
[Image source. Thanks, Robert!]
Smash Court Tennis 3 downloadable demo
Namco's upcoming fanservice-filled RPG Tales of the World is hitting PSPs soon, and Gametrailers has posted a new montage video, featuring the anime intro and various battles to be found in the game. It looks sharp, as expected, but we're wondering: where's our j-poppin' intro? We're hoping it's not axed for the US version.
[Via PS3 Fanboy]
Namco is promoting their new PSP exclusive tennis game, Smash Court Tennis, with a strange emphasis on gender. The game allows you to create your own tennis star, male or female. As these videos show, the character customization looks to be rather deep, something that can be easily appreciated in games. The graphics certainly represent the sport quite well; let's hope the gameplay can do the same.