Rockstar has finally brought its table tennis game to the Nintendo
system, but lack of precision and average graphics say rent, don't buy
Last year's surprisingly addictive table tennis game for the Xbox 360 has finally gotten around to the Nintendo Wii. Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis seems like an ideal fit for Nintendo's machine, with its motion-sensitive controls and simple to pick up gameplay. However, this version comes up short due to a lack of precision and a less-than-notable visual presentation.
Graphics normally wouldn't matter in a ping-pong game. However, considering the Xbox 360 version looks impressive, it sucks playing this watered down edition. The player models don't look exceptionally realistic. They move efficiently enough but they lack that certain sense of detail to personify them. The settings where you battle it out for paddling supremacy aren't that noteworthy either, with dimmer lighting and even less detail.
That's too bad, because the sound is superb. When the ball comes back to you, you can hear it through the Wii remote's speaker. Furthermore, the music is great to listen to, with a comforting electric piano groove that doesn't wear out its welcome. Kudos to the cheering crowd as well—they really add on to the auditory experience.
Rockstar did attempt something new with the gameplay. It included three unique play styles, all of which involve the use of the Nunchuk (for player movement) and the Wii remote (for arm movements to return the ball). Even the d-pad on the remote has a likable function, as you'll hold down one of its directions to put spin on the ball. This comes in handy for making the ping-pong ball veer off the table, zigging when your opponents expect a zag.
If you physically swing at a ball, however, your player doesn't mimic your exact swinging motion on-screen. They actually prepare their swing and then make contact. It's this sense of mistiming that really throws off momentum, as it never really feels like you're in complete control of your player.
Along with the standard Exhibition mode, a number of ping-pong tournaments against CPU-driven opponents are accessible, along with versus options against a friend. The two-player mode is an obvious recommendation here, even with the slightly disjointed gameplay. Unfortunately, one of the key features for the Xbox 360 version, online play, didn't make it into the Wii game. This makes the $40 price tag hard to digest, especially considering that the better-quality edition sells for half that.
Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis should've been an excellent game for the Wii. The sound design is splendid and the multiple gameplay options have potential. However, the stiff gameplay and uninspired graphics give off a paddled feeling. Stick with a rental and save your money.