Sega Superstars Tennis
- Sega characters, some cute themed mini-games
- Crummy lob recovery, obnoxious special moves, more suited for lounging at home
Sega Superstars Tennis' character roster has potential, but the tennis here is just too gimmicky and frustrating to recommend.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
There's nothing wrong with having a Sega character sports game. In fact, it could be cool to take advantage of series with unique characters from Sonic the Hedgehog to Ulala of Space Channel 5. Maybe the mice from Chu Chu Rocket can't play tennis, but they can definitely feature in a mini-game! Sadly, while the characters add style, they really don't do much for the faulted gameplay you find in Sega Superstars Tennis.
We had heaps of fun playing with Mario Tennis, so we were excited at first to see the similar two-button approach to hitting different types of shots: A-B for a lob, B-A for a drop, and B or A for slice or topspin respectively. Alternatively, you can use the stylus to move while tapping to swing, but it's about as imprecise as you might imagine. Sometimes placing shots was troublesome, but it could've just been our character type – Amigo (Samba de Amigo), for instance, is a power player, while Beat (Jet Grind Radio) specialises in speed.
Instead of just letting players focus on playing good tennis, there had to be some sort of gimmick. Unfortunately it comes in the form of Superstar abilities that you can't turn off. If these special moves had even the slightest ties to the individual characters' personalities, they might have been interesting, but as it stands, Sonic going Super Sonic and hitting the ball at a weird angle isn't very compelling. Whacky bounces and physics-defying trajectories are good for annoying friends in multiplayer, but against the computer it's just disruptive.
An even larger frustration, though, is everyone's inability to recover lobs. In most tennis games, if you hustle you can often find some way to smack the ball back over the net, even if it's behind you. Here your characters just give up even if you are clearly within a reasonable rescue range.
After abandoning the tournament modes, you can punk around in multiplayer with friends (multicart or shareable single cart options) or explore eight different mini-games based on Sega titles like Virtua Squad, Space Harrier, and Super Monkey Ball. You'd think the mini-games would be good training for your serious matches, but often they employ completely different aiming mechanics. Whacking zombies in Curien Mansion is cool for a minute, as is eliminating Puyo groups in Puyo Pop Fever, but running around for rings in the Sonic level is old before you start. As with any mini-game collection, it's pretty hit or miss.
The final thing to keep in mind when avoiding Sega Superstars Tennis for DS is that the game looks better on consoles. Also, the play style isn't really suited to handhelds, since there doesn't appear to be a way to save your progress in a tournament. While the character roster has potential, the tennis here is just too gimmicky and frustrating to recommend.
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