The quintessential summer sport, tennis has always lent itself particularly well to videogame adaptations with the likes of Virtua Tennis and Everybody's Tennis on PS3 and PS2 bringing all the excitement of the centre court into your living room. Now it's the turn of the third game in the Smash Court Tennis franchise to take tennis portable and provide all the thrills of professional tennis on the smaller screen.
Tennis fans are well served with a massive range of game options to keep you entertained, including an Arcade Mode, which thrusts you into the middle of a thrilling tournament, a Pro Tour which includes a fun character creation mode and some excellent Training Modes to teach you the basics of the game.
Pro Tour Mode is the main gameplay option and sees you take your created player through a variety of tournaments in an attempt to rise up the world rankings and become the best player in the world. As you win tournaments, you also earn prize money, which can be used to buy your player new hairstyles, outfits, racquets and training programmes to boost your skills.
Order in the court
There's also a selection of light-hearted mini-games to keep things fun, ranging from Pacman Tennis, where you play with the famous yellow sphere, and eat dots along the way, to Bomb Tennis, where you knock a bundle of high explosives back and forth across the net with the noble aim of blowing your opponent to smithereens.
Luckily for those who dislike being blown to smithereens, the control system is extremely well implemented, easy enough for beginners to pick up straight away, with hidden depths to add an edge to your game as you progress. Pressing any of the shot buttons once your opponent has hit the ball will allow you to return the ball just by approaching it. These shots lack power, but are useful when you're rethinking your strategy.
As you get more familiar with the controls you'll be able to pull off NICE shots, which rely on your timing, Hard Hits, which need charging up to deliver a powerful smash, and the usual array of topspin, slices, lobs and drop shots.
You'll need them all too, if you want to rise to the rank of world number one, as you'll be taking on the cream of professional tennis, including the legendary Roger Federer as well as Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, and 2006 French Open champions Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin.
You'll be taking them on in style too, with crisp, detailed graphics making the most of the PSP system's large screen and some excellent sound design, which includes funky background music, and great sound effects, including crowds chanting the names of the players and satisfyingly solid noises as you return a ball perfectly. The courts you play on are excellent too, ranging from the traditional indoor arenas and grass courts to a neon-lit Tokyo rooftop, a Californian Beachside and the grounds of an English stately home.
In addition to the single player game, Smash Court Tennis 3 includes a fine range of Ad Hoc Mode multiplayer options that allow you to take on your friends in a selection of different events. Tennis is naturally a sport that lends itself extremely well to multiplayer, and playing with friends adds longevity to the already impressive single-player game.
Smash Court Tennis 3 is everything a tennis fan could hope for on PSP. The combination of comprehensive options, training and tournaments with fun mini games and multiplayer modes means there's something here for everyone. So grab a racquet - this one's going to be a smash.