UPDATE: This game has been shutdown and is no longer available
This game has been SHUT DOWN – It is NO LONGER available. This means the official servers are offline and no one can create new accounts or log in to the game. For all intents and purposes this game is dead. This page will be updated if the game ever re-launches.
Smash Online Overview
Smash Online is a 3D anime-inspired tennis MMO published by Gamigo. In both graphics and gameplay, the game plays out a lot like Alaplaya’s tennis MMO, Fantasy Tennis. Unlike Fantasy Tennis, Smash Online aims to be a bit more realistic. The game has no outrageous “Mario Tennis” special abilities, or anything too wacky. The game is being published by a German company called Gamigo, but North American players are welcome to play the game. Broadband users shouldn’t experience any lag, but those on slower connections will certainly notice some latency issues. If you’re not a hardcore tennis fan, you may wish to avoid Smash Online, as it appeals to a very specific audience of people looking for a balanced tennis MMO. Its direct competitor, Fantasy Tennis, is often believed to be a superior title, but Smash Online is well worth checking out if you’re looking for a balanced tennis game.
Smash Online Screenshots
Smash Online Featured Video
Smash Online Review
By Sam Truong
Smash Online is a free-to-play tennis MMO developed by Gamigo entertainment. An experiment into a largely untouched MMO genre, the game has only a handful of players who compose a very small playerbase. As a result, one of the immediate setbacks of Smash Online includes the difficulty in finding other players to actually play against. Nevertheless, once the game has begun, players will find fast paced, lag-free rallies against opponents quite enjoyable, but do keep in mind the servers are located in Germany – there may be some communication issues. Smash Online holds potential as tennis MMO, but currently lacks luster, and doesn’t have the essence that makes an MMO game truly ‘addictive’.
Let me play already!
Registration for Smash Online was straightforward and simple. New players are required to create a Gamigo gaming account, which can be easily done in three steps. Literally, three steps. I was surprised at how quick and easy registration was: enter a desired username, check e-mail, agree to the terms, and your account is created. There was one thing that slightly annoyed me, however, and that was the time lag between the creation of the account on Gamigo and the account activation on the game servers. Fifteen minutes of wondering why your username and password are ‘incorrect’ took the wind out of my sails. Maybe Gamigo should take their time in sending out that ‘Your Account is Ready’ e-mail, as they certainly take their time in actually activating the account.
During the character-creation stage, players will have the ability to select a pre-determined ‘play style’, each with focuses on different abilities. These playstyles help determine the mechanics behind the player character and the percentage of points that are allocated to particular stats. For example, selecting ‘Base Line Play’ will focus on forehand and backhand abilities (18-20% development) at the start, whilst selecting ‘Critical Smash’ will allocate a large percentage to the ‘smash’ and ‘move’ stats. The game’s versatility should (in theory) make a difference in skills of the newbie character. However, I personally thought that it really didn’t make all that much difference, due to the ‘slow-motion’ feature in-game, which will be covered later on. Another option is to simply select nothing, which will set the abilities to default and allocate around 10-13% of the stats points to every attribute.
Thankfully, there is a fair amount of character customization options. Players are free to pick from numerous different hair styles and colors as well as starting clothes. This may not seem like much, but compared to some MMOs with no customization options, Smash Online fares well.
Where’s my eye candy?
The graphics in Smash Online can be summarized in one word, ‘decent’. What I mean by this is that although the game itself has character designs which are inspired from a typical ‘Anime’ character (and drawn relatively well might I add), the graphics aren’t as good as they could be. There are no options for full-screen, and the only resolution that players can use is a 1024 x 768. The limited game resolution may prove to be a disappointment for some players, whereas others may find that the ability to change the camera view from third person to a zoom-in, first person cut makes up for the difference.
Bring home the win
Anyone that has played Mario Tennis on the Nintendo consoles should be able to get a good feel for Smash Online’s controls without much effort. The controls are relatively straightforward and easy to handle. Use the arrow keys to move around, A or D to hit the ball, and S to lob the ball to your opponent back court (if used carelessly, they will smash it). It was a letdown to see that unlike some old school Nintendo tennis games, players aren’t able to pull off any ‘special moves’ like in Mario Tennis. Smash Online is a down-to-earth, straightforward tennis rally game, and it’s probably because of this that the game restricts itself to only certain audiences. Why play computer tennis if you can’t make the ball catch on fire as you hit it?
Smashing is a definite plus to the fun factor of this game, as players who play will undoubtedly get the chance to get a smash the crap out of the ball after their opponent lobs the ball into court. Once a lob has been initiated from the opposition, a circle containing an ‘S’ will appear for a certain time, and the player must be inside the circle to initiate the smash. Holding down the ‘A’ or ‘D’ buttons used to hit the ball will charge up for a super smash which almost guarantees a return, which is extremely difficult to hit.
The game mechanics allows for new players to quickly adapt thanks to a ‘slow-motion’ feature. Once within hitting range of the ball, and upon pressing A S or D, the area surrounding the ball will completely slow down, giving the player time to think about where and in which direction to hit. Although some may think that this takes the fun out of a fast-paced sport, the feature is actually well balanced since it gives the opponent time to position themselves for the counterattack. Additionally, it doesn’t cover for the fact that if the player is too far from the ball, there is no way that the ‘slow-motion’ will help them get near the ball in time.
Talk while you play!
One of the features which I felt worked well in Smash Online was the ability to talk in-game through a speech bubble. Messages that are typed through the chat box are displayed through a speech bubble above the head, allowing for a newbie to ask for help, including the all important question in case they skipped the training – ‘How do I hit the ball?’. Personally, I like this sort of chat system better than the ‘chat box’ system most games utilize – as text is always easier to read when it appears over someone’s head than in a box tucked away at the bottom left corner.
Time to do some… shopping?
Like most MMOs, you would expect the game developers to stock up some extra features to the shop that you would have to pay some real money for. The current game shop however, doesn’t have as many extra features as one would expect. Players can choose from a selection of different avatars (which have various different attributes), new maps to play on, but purchasing any new abilities was nowhere to be seen. While this does ensure that the game remains fair and balanced, it is also another factor contributing to dullness of the game, which again isn’t bad if you’re looking for a balanced tennis MMO.
Final Verdict: Fair
Smash Online makes a decent attempt at creating an MMO and delivers a good tennis game – but that’s about it. There are no extra features which enhance the game, the playerbase is small, and although games are relatively easy to join and start up, they are hard to find. A,S, and D become repetitive and boring after a while, so perhaps Gamingo should pick up the pace on the game and develop it to its full potential by adding some more features.
Smash Online Links
Smash Online System Requirements
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 2000
CPU: 1.0 GHz Pentium 3
RAM: 256 MB Memory
HDD: 300 MB Free
Graphics Card: Geforce2 or ATI Radeon 7500 series card or better.
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 2000
CPU: 2.0 GHZ Pentium 4
RAM: 512 MB or higher
HDD: 300 MB Free
Graphics Card: Geforce 3 Ti or ATI Radeon 9500 series card or better.