Sega Superstars Tennis

Given that it’s essentially a Virtua Tennis remix, the game feels almost exactly the same. You have soft shots, hard shots, lobs and drop shots and… that’s it. The only other move comes in the form of a special move. A star under your player slowly lights up as rallies progress and you hit winners. When it’s maxed out, you become powered up in “Superstar” state with better attributes unique to each character such as moving faster (Sonic), and you can unleash a special shot that has all sorts of effects from zig-zagging across the court (Gum), hitting players instantaneously back (Sonic), spinning upwards in a tornado before shooting across the court (Tails), firing bombs along with the ball (Egg-Man), sprinkling banana skins all over the court (AiAi), and so on. Characters even feel unique in the way they move - NiGHTS flies around the court while Beat skates.

The motion controls promise to be more interactive than the simple time-your-swing in Wii Tennis. As developer Sumo Digital told us, “We take the Wii remote’s speed and direction and use this to determine the shot you get. But of course as with real tennis, the better your timing, the better the shot you do. Hit it too early or too late, and you’ll wind up pushing the ball out to the sides of the court. We also see which way the Wii remote is going, so let’s say you do a quick upwards move at the just the right time, you’ll see this get translated in game to a sharp lob shot.”

Inspired in VT3, the minigames hit dizzying new heights here as they all pay tribute to Sega games. There’s a House of the Dead court with shuffling zombies who need to be knocked down, a carbon copy of Virtua Tennis’ opening level where you fire tennis balls instead of bullets, and a wicked ChuChu Rocket tribute. There’s also a Space Harrier game where you fight off the classic floating enemies with your serves, all the while dodging various attacks. This packs the arcade simplicity of Virtua Tennis combined with Sega fan service. It might not please Henman fans but Sega fans should be hugely excited. A gloriously simple idea, there’s not a Sega fan on the planet who’ll be able to resist this knockout combination.

Feb 7, 2008