We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

North America

Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis

by Lasse Pallesen - September 16, 2007, 3:56 am EDT
Total comments: 10

On the surface, Rockstar Presents Table Tennis seems like a perfect fit for Wii, but is it really?

Rockstar’s Wii edition of Table Tennis took up a considerable amount of space at GC 2007. The company had set up several demo stations complete with actual tables standing in front of the screens. There were also two company representatives. instructing players on how to use the remote as a paddle. This service turned out to be quite necessary, as few people managed to even make a proper serve, let alone get a lengthy rally going. For many, the problem persisted even after getting guidance, which speaks volumes of how inaccessible and counterintuitive the default control scheme was for beginners. Unfortunately, the other two control schemes don’t solve the problem. Aimed deliberately for the experienced players, they do provide a little more depth and subtlety to the gameplay, though.

Rockstar clearly tried to make the default controls simple and easy to learn. Not only are they handled exclusively with Wii Remote, your character also moves around automatically, akin to Wii Sports. Adding to the simplicity is the fact that you don’t even need to time your shots. As long as you swing the remote while the ball is coming at you, your character automatically performs the shot afterwards, if the ball comes in range. The problem is that sometimes seconds go by from the moment you swing the remote to the moment the ball is hit. You feel strangely detached from the game when seeing that your physical movements, which are supposed to be a simulation of actually hitting the ball, don’t immediately translate into corresponding movements from your character on-screen. Sometimes, the game doesn’t even register that you performed the swing at all.

Equally unnerving is the fact that - unlike in Wii Sports Tennis - the game seemingly only detects if you swing the remote, not how. You can apply topspin, backspin, or sidespin, but those feats are handled by holding down the corresponding direction on the D-pad rather than twisting the remote, which would have been much more intuitive. Perhaps true one-to-one controls are too much to ask for, but, certainly, the remote can do much more in terms of motion recognition than what is offered here.

Because of these issues, the default control scheme didn’t seem to provide an easy way for casual gamers to get into the game. Most people at the show didn’t get to see how intense the duels really get, when they develop into longer rallies, in which the speed of the ball increases, and the characters get the chance to perform cool-looking, slow-motion-inducing super shots at your command. When the rallies get really fast, the aforementioned lag between your swing movement and your character’s movement naturally decreases, which makes the controls considerably more satisfying.

Unsurprisingly, the two advanced control schemes aren’t meant to help out beginners. These schemes share all the Wii Remote-related problems mentioned earlier, but luckily they also provide an extra level of depth and a greater sense of control, sure to be appreciated by the hard-core crowd. The Sharpshooter control scheme enables you to aim your shot by using the analog stick of the Nunchuk. Now players are rewarded for being aware of the competitor’s position and successfully landing a shot outside his reach. Alternatively, Control Freak gives players control over the position of their character, which provides an extra level of challenge. Even if these control schemes don’t eliminate the core problems with the game, they do make the game more rewarding.

Graphically, the game looks respectable, though somewhat bare-bones at its current state. The characters, which almost represent the only models on-screen, move fluidly and look fairly detailed, though they obviously lack the high-resolution finesse of the 360 version. The clothes behave less convincingly now, and the beautiful sweat particles are gone. The matches also take place in empty locales with a just a simple black texture as the background. There is a distinct lack of atmosphere, seeing that the matches aren’t even set in a visible context. Fortunately, Rockstar said that practically all the content available in the 360 version, including venues, characters, and outfits, will be available in the final release.

Overall, Table Tennis still needs some work, especially in the controls department. It’s a shame considering how well motion controls and table tennis fit together conceptually. If the Wii version aims to be the definitive version of the game, a budget price also seems to be necessary, especially when considering the lack of online features and inferior graphics.


MaryJaneSeptember 16, 2007

I thought in WiiSports Tennis it does sense how you swing the Wiimote; speed/strength, direction (hitting it up as opposed to straight into the net) and backhands/forehands/overhands. These are all things I've been able to do differently depending on how I've swung the remote as opposed to just when (which adds another element because the balls' movement is affected by how close it is to you when you swing). It was very surprising to see that comparison, I don't think I've been imagining doing all of these things.

What also surprised me is that the newsbot played this game...

He said unlike WiiSports, meaning that it was in WiiSports, but not this.

ShyGuySeptember 16, 2007

The latest screenshots show that the backgrounds have been added in

I didn't find it too bad when I played, I figured out the serving after my second or third try, and I managed to get a rally of four or so swings back and forth. However the controls felt a bit clunky and delayed. Plus I wasn't really interested in the game even when it was released on the 360.

that Baby guySeptember 16, 2007

So spin and the like isn't an effect of how you swing? That's very unfortunate. I was looking forward to getting this for my father at some point, but if it is too button-based, he wouldn't enjoy it.

KDR_11kSeptember 16, 2007

Sounds like they just translated waggle to a button.

that Baby guySeptember 16, 2007

You call it waggle, I call it actual technique. Several people I know would be interested in a game that accurately translates the way you swing the Wii Remote to the way the ball is hit. Moving that function to a button is a poorly thought out decision. Besides, it isn't waggle if it's truly comparable to the real think, and in this case, it could be, but Rockstar must've decided that was too hard or time consuming.

MaryJaneSeptember 16, 2007

Lmao. Ok so I'm an idiot...

I still got the fact that the newsbot plays Wii games. I, Robot is coming to pass?

NinGurl69 *hugglesSeptember 16, 2007

"Rockstar must've decided that was too hard or time consuming"

Until they get it right, they're not getting my muney.

KDR_11kSeptember 16, 2007


Originally posted by: thatguy
You call it waggle, I call it actual technique. Several people I know would be interested in a game that accurately translates the way you swing the Wii Remote to the way the ball is hit. Moving that function to a button is a poorly thought out decision. Besides, it isn't waggle if it's truly comparable to the real think, and in this case, it could be, but Rockstar must've decided that was too hard or time consuming.

I call it waggle because it doesn't read anything from the movement other than its presence/absence, like an on-off button. Something like WiiSports Tennis has technique because it matters how you swing but that preview sounds like they simply mapped the swing button to the accelerometer and let other buttons decide everything else.

GoldenPhoenixSeptember 16, 2007

Looks like Rockstar is blowing a potential hit with lazy utilization of the Wiimote.

Share + Bookmark

Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Rockstar Leeds
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
Release Oct 23, 2007
PublisherRockstar Games
eu: Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
Release Oct 26, 2007
PublisherRockstar Games
Got a news tip? Send it in!