Sunday, February 07, 2010

Video game number thirty nine: Sega Superstars Tennis

Game review number thirty nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Sega Superstars Tennis".

Ever wonder what Sonic the Hedgehog gets up to when he's not starring in terrible 3D adventure games? Apparently, he gets together and plays tennis with his buddies from other Sega games.

I enjoy a good arcade tennis game once every couple of decades. The last one I actually purchased was Super Tennis for the Super Nintendo when I was in high school. I enjoyed the simplicity of the game, and I remember playing it for hours on end. In the last couple of years, I played tennis in Wii Sports, which is pretty fun, but using a Wii-mote took some of the fun out of it. You swing at the ball, you hit it....and you can't really control the motion like you could on the old games. I recently played Rock Star's Table Tennis, but that's ping pong and doesn't really count. I think this is actually the first tennis game I've played on my Xbox.

I picked this one up out of frustration with the Sonic the Hedgehog game I am about to give up on. The review is linked above, but's an incredibly difficult and confusing RPG/3D-action game that I am not enjoying at all. I've been grinding through it in the hopes I can reach an achievement, but the only reason I want to do that is because of this project and so I can stop playing. That's not really in the spirit of this project, so I think I may just give up playing it and move on to another game in it's place.

In any event, I wanted to remember why I liked Sonic, so I grabbed a fun little game of tennis...starring Sonic and a bunch of my other favorite Sega characters. Right out of the box, it was an enjoyable experience.

The controls are exactly what I remember Super Tennis being on the SNES back in the day. "A" button hits the ball, there's a "Spin" button you can use (X), but that's basically it. It's the kind of game you would see in an arcade and have some fun challenging a friend on, quick to pick up and learn, tough to master.

Serves can be powered up by timing your "A" button press when your star meter is full, and a 5-star serve gives you a "perfect" rating. Most of the time it's an ace, sometimes the computer can return it. After you've had a long enough volley, you get a special move you can use, and they vary from character to character. Some of them are pretty crazy (making the ball spin in circles, teleport, or in the case of Ulala from Space Channel 5, throwing a bunch of droids in your way).

I played through the career mode, and played probably 10 or 15 matches before I called it a day. I used a lot of the different favorite was probably Amigo (from Samba de Amigo on the Dreamcast). Other characters I enjoyed using included Sonic, AiAi (from Super Monkey Ball) and Beat from Jet Set Radio Future.

Each character has their own court, and the levels are really interesting to look at. The one from Space Channel 5 reminds me of Tron, whereas the Samba de Amigo court is a tropical paradise where the crowd sings songs. Some characters have mini-games you can play. The Jet Set Radio Future guys have a graffiti game where you collect spray cans and then hit tennis balls into graffiti to color it in with the selected color in your can. It's challenging, and fun. The Super Monkey Ball level has you hitting tennis balls at Monkeys in their little plastic balls, trying to knock them into gates. There are more, I didn't unlock them all yet.

This is a fun little game, although some of the bonuses and super powers can get challenging at times. Still, after playing Singles and Doubles, I can say it's a good tennis experience at heart. I give this one thumbs-up all the way, definitely glad I played it.

Also, it made me hate Sonic a little less. :-)

Overall Score 7/10 Fun tennis game, lots of stuff to do besides just the regular games.

Achievements? There are a ton, here's what I got after a few hours.

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