The initial moments of Smash Court Tennis 3 are quite deceiving. You go through a rigorous training regimen, as well as learn different shots and how to aim for the alleys. And at some point, you assume that you'll be able to master your racket. This is untrue. While it seems like you're just dealing with a steep learning curve at first, it quickly becomes apparent that the controls in the third Smash Court Tennis are just sloppy. It is possible to have success--even some fun--in the single-player tournament by abusing the inept strategies of your artificial foes, but the experience quickly becomes flat and unsatisfying.
You can choose from a number of real-world athletes in Smash Court--including current world number ones Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic--but it's much more entertaining to create your own goofy character in the robust creation tool. It can be difficult to mold a good-looking participant, but it's certainly fun using your imagination to give life to some creepy-looking guy who shouldn't be allowed out of his house, much less onto an international tennis event. You can tweak your eyes and mouth to grotesque proportions, but what makes this stand out as something special is the baffling attire to which you have access. You can actually wear a shirt displaying an image of the painting Girl With a Pearl Earring, a devastatingly effective tool of intimidation. A pro shop is available if you want to buy new clothes, but why would you want to mess with a good thing?
Bow down to your new tennis master.
Things go downhill when you actually enter a match. The onscreen action does not mirror your button pushes. If your player is completely stationary and the ball is hit directly at you, it seems logical to think that you would be able to hit the ball all the way to the left by holding left on the controller. This is rarely the case. The ball usually stays toward the middle of the court unless you are off to one side. Trying to toss in a lob or drop shot to confuse your opponent is just as pointless. Drop shots are far too slow, ensuring that even a napping opponent will easily be able to chase it down. Lobs float tauntingly in the air, allowing your opponent to rain down smashes with ease. Matches essentially boil down to hitting the ball really hard and hoping your opponent just misses it.
And they will miss it. The animations in Smash Court are just as unpredictable as the controls. Oftentimes, your player will not even swing at a passing ball even as you desperately slam on the button. It's one thing to have a player swing and miss, because at least the effort is there; but frantically chasing down a well-placed shot only to watch in horror when your player refuses to swing at the moment of truth is just crushing. Other times, frames of animation will be dropped to make a swing work. If a ball is coming right at your head, your player will magically slide just before he or she swings, so the ball will make contact with your racket rather than your face. The magic-slide issue makes it much easier to return shots that should be impossible.