Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Are the Grass Courts Greener on the Nintendo DS?

Sega's Virtua Tennis 3, in my opinion, delivered one of the nicest gaming experience I'd ever had on the Sony PSP. Looking for the same sort of tennis experience on the Nintendo DS however, was a little difficult.

For starters, games that even feature tennis as part of their repertoire number in less than a handful. A couple of them, Prince of Tennis: Driving Smash! Side King and Side Genius are basically team management simulations. This leaves me with just the 2005 title Prince of Tennis: Crystal Drive.

I've always been a fan of the manga (haven't started with the anime yet) and like the manga, the game features a huge roster of players, with most of them waiting to be unlocked. The premise is really simple, win matches (duh!).

This is easier said than done as fans would attest that tennis is not what it seems in the manga, with characters having a whole lot of special moves. Some of these moves translate intact to the game, and players can pull them off under certain conditions (like filling up the bars and meters ala Street Fighter) with certain button combinations.

Each time this happens, the game will pause for a moment with a picture of the character appearing in full pose and yelling a catch phrase. This gets rather annoying as it interrupts the flow of a match, but it fortunately has an option to be disabled.

Graphics-wise, Crystal Drive is no Virtua Tennis 3, and has more in-common with GBA games, which is perfectly understandable as it was one of the earliest Nintendo DS titles. Audio-wise, it's pretty much expect of this sort of game, with characters quoting quotable quotes from the manga/anime.

While Virtua Tennis was a little intense and technical, Crystal Drive plays more of like a 2D brawler on a tennis court, which makes it rather fun. I'm currently waiting for this particular title to be available on my favourite online retailer, as it's back-ordered. Click here for purchase details.

Stay tuned for first looks on K-1 World GP for the Nintendo DS. It's not what you expect, and then some.