Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sega Superstars Tennis for Nintendo DS - A Review

For more video game reviews, head over to the brand new

In retrospect, Sega's decision to quit making consoles and instead focusing on making games for other consoles is a good one for gamers in general. Otherwise we wouldn't be enjoying such an excellent tennis game for in the Nintendo DS in the form of Sega Superstars Tennis.

I admit that I approached this title with rather high hopes, as the previous tennis game I played, Prince of Tennis: Crystal Drive, although GBA-ish, delivered quite an enjoyable experience. I'm happy to say that Sega Superstars Tennis has exceeded even my expectations and probably is one of the better games I've played this year.

Almost every part of the game screams excellent production values and from the start you are greeted with a FMV sequence which would probably give the Crystal Chronicles or Revenant Wings developers a run for their money.

With its player roster being a showcase of Sega icons such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Nights, Amigo, Dr. Egghead and Ulala, the developers have set out to provide just that, and then some. Gameplay is realised in 3D, not unlike another Sega title, Virtua Tennis for the PSP.

While the DS is not much of a pixel pusher compared to the PSP, character models and the various courts that they play on are jaw droppingly pretty, and look Ma, no lag! As a nice touch, the tennis courts in the Sega Superstar Tennis are based on past Sega titles. Among those titles featured include Curien Mansion (House of the Dead), Space Channel 5, Samba de Amigo with more to be unlocked.

The usual suspects are here when it comes to gameplay options. There's the Quick Play mode and the Single Player mode which allows players to have a match against the computer opponent in either singles or doubles matches. If you are up for it, there's a tournament mode within the Single Player mode as well.

As mentioned earlier, the player roster reads like a who's who list of Sega icons and while you have 8 characters to choose from the start, there are 8 more waiting to be unlocked! Each character has his/her/its own style of play, some are power players while some are spin or all-rounders. In addition to that, characters such as Nights handle differently then others as she floats instead of being grounded.

Each character has also a special ability which can be triggered during gameplay with the right-shoulder button. Abilities work like those featured in Crystal Drive and can only be triggered when the star on the character's feet starts glowing. It is not a convulated as Crystal Drive and while the number of abilities are noticeably lesser, at least you don't need to remember combos :).

Multiplayer mode is confined to local WiFi, which is a little bit disappointing, as I planned to take my A-game online :).

One of the more interesting aspects of Virtua Tennis for the PSP was its collection of mini games and likewise, Sega Superstars Tennis doesn't disappoint. Accessible from the Single Player mode screen, these mission games are themed according to various Sega games such as ChuChu Rocket!, Super Monkey Ball, Virtua Squad and Curien Mansion (House of the Dead).

For example, the House of the Dead mission will have you hitting tennis balls at zombies crawling out from the ground amongst other things. The Virtua Squad mission will definitely give fans of the arcade game a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't spoil it for you; get the game and find out for yourself!

I am so getting this game. Sega Superstars Tennis is available at the following online retailers, click on them for further details:
  • Play-Asia ~ USD 34.90 (Free International Shipping)
  • Amazon UK ~ £24.98 (Super Saver Delivery - within UK)
  • ~ USD 29.95 (Super Saver Shipping - within US)
I would recommend International buyers to opt for Play-Asia. Never failed me once.