Monday, May 28, 2007

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Rafa Nadal Tennis

Product Number: 155
How much: £5.00 (Mobile)
Where can I buy one: Text NADAL to 88188

When I wrote my first mobile phone review I remarked that good mobile phone games are quick to play and offer simple controls. By comparison a good console game offers depth, longevity and controls that put you at the center of the action. But what if these lines are blurred? What if a game offers the longevity of a console game with the controls to match on a mobile phone? Rafa Nadal Tennis is one such crossover.

For example, the games' championship mode is a relatively simple affair of player vs player which is perfectly positioned to offer quick mobile gratification. However the only playing options on offer are a ‘3 set game’ and or a ‘3 and 5 sets game’, both of which take about half an hour to play till the end , and that’s if you don’t end up in a deuce struggle for about 5 minutes. In essence that’s like asking you to play a 90 minute long football match in its entirety, something which is an optional extra on console games and unheard of for mobile gaming.

Thankfully an exhibition mode is on offer which makes the game a little quicker, although this still takes around 10 minutes to play through, if you simply want to play a quick back and forth your only option is to play first to 45 and then turn the game off. Naturally you can pause the game and come back to it later although the times when I tried this left me faced with the title screen and lost progress when I ‘resumed’ the game (although this may be a fault of my handset...)

Controls on the other have been given some simplicity and most moves can be handled with a single button press. This generally works by pressing the button once to get your character to run for the ball, then holding the direction you want them to hit the ball in. It actually works well, although as it has to stick to the analogue controls of a mobile phone you can’t angle the shot much more than left or right.

To resolve this the developers have added a range of extra shots which can be activated by other keys on the thumb pad. This is a nice solution with left and right spins letting you hit shots in to more exposed positions. Of course this complicates matters and brings things closer to a console game, and as the game states in its tutorial for a ‘game winning shot’ you’ll need to use the other moves.

Console aspirations do bring a few nice features to the game such as surprisingly well animated characters complete with effective running and hitting animations. No doubt the motion capture used for the Nintendo DS version of this game has filtered down and done it no end of good. And that’s essentially what we’re left with, the Nintendo DS version, slightly cut down but retaining most of it’s time limits and demands. Rafa Nadal isn’t a bad game, it’s just clearly playing in the wrong court.

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