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Contrary to what some will tell you, the PlayStation Portable had some bloody good games, and among the best of these was and still is Everybody's Tennis – or, as it's known in North America, Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip. Developed by Japanese studio Clap Hanz, it's a supremely polished, accessible, and downright addictive tennis title, and the best part is that you don't necessarily have to be a mega fan of the real-world sport to get stuck into it.

Often taking on the guise of a role-playing game, complete with a lengthy story, statistics, equipment, and even side-quests, Everybody's Tennis probably isn't what most people expect, especially from a sports release. Travelling around the world to – wait for it – spread the joy of tennis, you hop from one colourful location to the next, besting its inhabitants and recruiting new players as you go.

It's a plot that's suitable for all ages, but that doesn't take away any of the story's immediate charm. Alongside some fun dialogue, there's a diverse cast of enjoyable characters – and yes, that includes the infamous Helghast, who even shouts "headshot" when he hits a particularly good ball. We suppose that the game's structure is a bit predictable, but you'll never be too concerned over the details since each new area is so lovingly crafted.

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From tropical beach to high school campus, proceedings are kept consistently fresh as you jet around the globe, helping people solve their tennis-related problems. It sounds daft written down, but this is one of those titles that you have to play for yourself to understand what makes it click. As mentioned, there's a variety of playable characters to unlock and level up, each with their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to throwing down on the court. Movie stars, disgruntled teens, and martial arts masters make up the cast, and each inclusion is so thoughtful that just about anyone will be able to find a favourite.

While the hefty campaign will keep your attention for a good number of hours, it's the gameplay that'll have you coming back time and time again. Simple yet incredibly refined, it's tennis that everyone can pick up and play, but it's also got enough depth to satisfy those who really want to master what's on offer. Different shots are mapped to each face button, and by and large, everything's exactly as you'd expect from a tennis title, but it's the steady, rewarding flow of a match that really nails the best aspects of the sport.

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Rallies are somewhat easy to come by, powerful or well timed shots are echoed with brilliant sound effects, and a fatigue gauge forces you to play more conservatively if you're running low on stamina. The whole system is perfectly balanced without ever having to resort to gimmicks or over-the-top mechanics. It's a bit of a strange mix, the fact that this is a very cartoony game that boasts relatively realistic tennis, but it works better than you'd ever imagine, bringing an undeniable charm to the sport, while also celebrating what it's all about.

Timing is at the centre of the gameplay, requiring you to hit the ball at just the right moment in order to place it exactly where you want. If you connect too slow or too fast, your shot'll skew to one side, and your opponent could very well punish you for it. It's a simple and effective gameplay basis, and learning to time your hits to perfection makes for a rewarding, but subtle learning curve.

Everything's tied together into a neat little package by the release's attractive art style and its catchy soundtrack. As a whole, Everybody's Tennis is a superbly polished product, and as such, it's incredibly difficult to fault it in any specific area. Currently sitting at just a few pounds on the PlayStation Store, it's fully playable on the Vita – perhaps more so than it was on the PSP thanks to the handheld's much improved analog stick – and we heartily recommend it to anyone with even a whiff of interest in the real world sport.

Are you in (15) love with Everybody's Tennis, or do you think that this PlayStation Portable exclusive misses the mark? Smash your opinion into the comments section below.