Known as Minna no Golf, or Everybody's Golf in Japan, the Clap Hanz-developed Hot Shots Golf series has been a casual sports standard for Sony since the days of the original PlayStation. Now the publisher is branching out with the series, applying the same accessible-yet-deep design sensibilities to a new sport with the upcoming PlayStation 2 game Minna no Tennis (Everybody's Tennis).
In the most recent Weekly Famitsu, the magazine interviews Sony Computer Entertainment senior producer Daisaku Ikejiri and Clap Hanz CEO Takashi Muramori about its new project, which it turns out isn't that new after all.
"The game's plan was finished in 2001," Muramori said. "However, we had to make Minna no Golf Online, so we didn't have the manpower to do it...We decided to wait until we could get some good people [for the project]."
Like the Minna no Golf franchise, Minna no Tennis is designed with casual sports fans in mind. The game won't use real-life tennis stars, and the developers are trying to avoid making it feel too much like a simulation-minded game. Muramori and Ikejiri explain that such things risk scaring off users who aren't already fans of the sport. But that doesn't mean the game won't have depth.
"Without depth, the players will get bored," Muramori said. "We had to see how deep we could make the game and how many complex elements we could hide inside of it."
According to Ikejiri, they succeeded in making the game fairly accurate. "We had some experienced tennis players try the game, and they said it's 'close to actual tennis'...We were very particular about preserving the sequence of rally, tempo change, and kill that is inherent to tennis."
One thing that is not on the menu is online play. "We aren't supporting network play this time," Muramori said. "Since this is an action game that runs at 60 frames per second, the delays caused by using the network would impact the feel of the game."
On the other hand, Ikejiri said the game is made with future hardware in mind. "Minna no Tennis will be a PS2 title, but we hope that people will continue to play it on the PlayStation 3. On the PS3, up to four players will be able to compete using wireless controllers."
The pair is also thinking about future software. Muramori hinted that this may be just the tip of the "Minna no" iceberg. "I like sports games...I'm making plans for various other sports titles besides tennis."
Minna no Tennis is scheduled for release in Japan on September 14. In the meantime, a promotional video is available from the game's Web site.