Sega Superstars Tennis

Sega Superstar TennisWhereas Nintendo have let their sprightly mascots settle their differences with a spot of fisticuffs in the Super Smash Bros series, Sega have instead opted for a friendly game of tennis. The term ‘superstars’ is pushing it a bit though. Sure, everybody knows who Sonic and Tails are but Gum from Jet Set Radio? Ulala from the super-obscure Space Channel 5? Heck, Alex Kidd hasn’t been seen since 1990! Then again, Sega couldn’t really have included a thug from Condemned 2, a chap from Viking: Battle of Asgard and a car from Sega Rally Revo as playable characters.

Like most Wii games developers Sumo have thought to include a number of different control systems. That number is three. You can play it the lazy way like Wii Sports Tennis with the characters automatically running around, leaving you to merely swipe the Wii remote when the ball comes in your direction. Or you can control the characters yourself with the nunchuk, or do away with the nunchuk altogether and hold the Wii remote on its side like an NES pad. Which of course means backwards digital control. The problem is that all three are sluggish – you never feel completely in control as you did in the Virtua Tennis series. You do have plenty of influence over the ball’s direction though, not just when serving but in mid-air too.

Various tournaments are available from the off, but the Planet Superstars mode takes up the bulk of it. Here you’ll find dozens of mini-games each themed around various Sega titles of yore (Chu Chu Rocket! Space Harrier! Golden Axe!) complete with soundtracks ripped from their subject matter and a range of unlockable goodies. Don’t get too excited – they’re mostly additional soundtracks. No playable retro games or such sadly.

The Super Monkey Ball section includes knocking giant spheres into holes with some well-aimed shots, while the Jet Set Radio mini-games involve collecting the different coloured spray cans to fill in tags on the other side of the court. Then there’s the jolly fun House of the Dead mode where hoards of zombies have to be knocked over within tight time limits. Thankfully there are a few power-ups on hand including rapid shots, giant balls and triple balls. Sometimes it’s worth thinking about who to pick before tackling said mini-games.

Predictably each character has their own skills – Sonic is the speedy one, NiGHTS the all-rounder while Eggman can pull off powerful shots and so fourth. Also, after a decent rally a special move can be pulled off like Monkey Ball’s AiAi lobbing some banana skins on to your turf. It certainly looks better than most multi-format Wii efforts – the NiGHTS court with its lovely water effects is particularly alluring. It’s just a shame that some of the mini-games require more luck than skill, and with iffy controls it might be an idea to go for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions instead.

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