We're probably one of the few video game blogs that actually discusses tennis games on a regular basis. For that, we apologise to our non-tennis fan readers — but just give us 1,000 more words to talk about one of our dream E3 announcements: a PlayStation Move tennis game developed by Zindagi Games.
For those that aren't aware, Zindagi Games developed the excellent PlayStation Move launch title Sports Champions. As far as we're concerned, Sports Champions' table-tennis mini-game is the best showcase of motion controlled technology currently available on the market. We've spent ample time with the alternative motion solutions available, and nothing comes close to the precision of the implementation in Sports Champions' table-tennis. On its upper difficulties, Sports Champions demands you to play in a realistic manner. You're no longer simply swinging the PlayStation Move controller like a fly-swat, the game implores you to move naturally as you would around a real table-tennis table. The "mini-game" — which is part of a collection of six — is essentially a simulation of the sport. It's that good.
But Zindagi's talent clearly doesn't stop at the ability to craft phenomenal motion control mechanics. Many of the nuances of Sports Champions were lost on its casual audience. The game's AI for one was terrific, forcing you to utilise different play strategies against different opponents. Some would play defensively, requiring you to push and pull them all around the table. Others would be aggressive, so you'd need to return balls as awkwardly as possible. Of course, all this strategy programmed into the AI demanded you to be even more astute with your motions. The simulation level of the motion controls coupled with the complex AI meant the game had one of the most realistic and enjoyable learning curves we've ever experienced, and is heavily under-rated for that very reason.
It's easy to see where we're going with this story. Both Virtua Tennis 4 and Top Spin 4 are fantastic games when played with the DualShock, but fail in different regards as motion controlled experiences. Virtua Tennis 4's Move implementation is solid, but is not precise enough to deal with the nuances of shot placement and control. Furthermore, it's substantially hindered by its limited use — resigned to a side option in the game's main menu. Top Spin 4's motion control can be used at any point in the game, but is poorly put together. Swings of the controller are used to trigger animations, making the whole affair feel largely unresponsive.
This is where Zindagi Games come in. The studio already has the rough technology to create a fantastic table-tennis game, so why not expand that into a full-blown tennis title? Stick with us: imagine playing tennis with absolute control over every shot you make. With Zindagi's table-tennis technology, it shouldn't be enormously challenging for the company to create a game where you can purposefully control slice, spin and placement on a full-scale tennis court. Turn it into a full title, with career progression, multiplayer and costume unlocks. It doesn't have to be the most rich game in terms of content, it just needs to have some kind of progression to it. If the controls are as good as in Sports Champions, then the primary hook of the game would be in the enjoyment derived from them. If that could be taken online into worldwide tournaments, then the replay value would be almost endless — particularly if you're unlocking costumes and clothing all the time to make your character look unique online.
The feasibility of the game is unfortunately less likely. As reasonable (and brilliant) as the game concept sounds, we know it would be targeted at a niche. No matter how flawed, two bigger franchises have tackled motion controlled tennis this year and neither set the sales charts alight despite offering full DualShock support too. A PlayStation Move exclusive tennis game would probably struggle at retail. Our best hope is perhaps in a compilation. A spiritual successor to Sports Champions, for example, could include a tennis mini-game amongst other sports.
We can be pretty certain Zindagi's working on something for the PlayStation Move. The company describes itself as a "PlayStation Move developer" on its website, and apparently played an integral part in the development of the controller. We also know the company was recently hiring for a PlayStation 3 project. Whatever they're cooking, we have the utmost faith in Zindagi concocting a title that justifies the PlayStation Move for a second time, and hopefully we see it at E3 this year.
While we're open to any new titles for Move, we'll have our fingers crossed a little bit tighter for a tennis game from Zindagi. It's all we've ever wanted since first experience table-tennis on the device.