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As a tennis game released by sega, who are well known for there virtua tennis series, I was intrigued by this game. Characters from past and present sega franchises make appearances within the game, including sonic, aiai and many more some of which must be unlocked via a single player challenge mode. Sega Superstar tennis is a game that immediately strikes one as being designed for kids, the cutesy graphics and presentation being an example of this. Typical of a kids game the gameplay is very basic with most shots being pulled of using just two buttons. The shallow gameplay is slightly made up for by the fun that can be had if a group of friend are present as the game caters for up to 4 players both on and offline. Overall I would say this game is decent and not as poor as I expected given its look but it is still far from a classic sport sim.
You might be wondering why someone like me, a student, would buy this type of game. The answer is very simple; the price. This game cost me a grand total of £3.99 from Play (Including postage and packaging!). As I write this review there is an advert from eBay to buy it for £7.99. I think I should also point out that my copy is brand new. Amazon are also selling this brand new for 50p; no I'm not lying it really is 50p however postage and packaging is about £5 so the cheapest copy still remains Play. After a second look i got my copy from Playtrade so the cheapest copy is no longer £3.99 however you should be able to pick this game up for less than a fiver. So I bought this game for a laugh; a bit of fun that could be decent with friends as it has 4 player multiplayer. I'm living with 6 guys next year so I thought this game could be perfect for the house.
It's a tennis game with characters from previous SEGA games. You have the choice of playing a random match, in tournaments, on Xbox live or following the superstar path. Superstar mode see's you competing across a variety of SEGA game worlds to unlock characters, courts and music tracks. Each stage will consist of either a set of challenges in relation to that theme or compete in singles and doubles matches.
Nothing worth mentioning here; it is typical bright quirky graphics which do the job. You can't fault the graphics as SEGA have gone for a particular theme however what's important in this game is the animation. What I mean here is; Does it look awkward when Sonic hits a tennis ball? I was impressed with the animation in this game. There's a wide variety of characters here; Sonic, Beat, Ai Ai, Knights, Dr Eggman etc. They vary in height and size so I was expecting it to feel a little bit weird when playing with some of the characters. For example Ai Ai , a small monkey, could have been awkward to use however it feels perfectly natural playing with the majority of the characters. The only difficult character is Knights as he (Maybe she, I don't know!) floats instead of walks so the animations are slightly different. It's not terrible but it's not perfect
Good and bad here. The music is all taken from previous SEGA games and each court has its own selection of tracks. You start off having one song available for each court however as you progress through the game you unlock more music tracks for each court. It's a nice touch and nostalgic SEGA fans will recognize the classic tunes. The music is thoroughly enjoyable and each court offers its own style.
The downside is the voice acting. With a game like this you can expect quirky comments when a point is won or lost and SEGA superstar tennis follows suit. The problem is there isn't enough of them; or you could argue the existing comments are used too often. Roughly 50% of the points you win are followed by a celebration from your character however there is only about 3 different celebrations. They quickly become repetitive and very annoying. I used the same character throughout most of the game so I was sick and tired of it by the end. My advice; change characters on a regular basis to avoid being driven insane.
The real issue here is whether or not the tennis is dumbed down for kids and kept quite simple. As a simulation it is obviously not competing with the likes of Topspin however there is a solid tennis game underneath all of the quirky SEGA characters. It's not as straight forward as it looks and you need to have half a brain to play it. It's not a simple case of pressing A here and there. The controls sound simple but funnily enough take a short while to get used to. The A button is topspin, the X button is slice and the Left stick moves your character. For a lob you press A followed by X and for a drop shot you press X followed by A. It's a little bit confusing at first and you'll probably find yourself doing a lob when you meant a drop shot and vice versa however once it sticks in your head this is a thoroughly enjoyable tennis game
It's a lot like the original Virtua tennis. I'm not sure what the latest Virtua tennis is like however the original is almost a carbon copy of this game. The tennis feels the same and even the challenges are the same. The only difference is the characters and the Superstar moves. Once your character has performed enough decent shots your character will be able to enter superstar mode. Any shot in superstar mode has a strange twist to it e.g. when sonic strikes the ball it will ricochets off the net in a random direction confusing your opponent. These aren't always guaranteed points however they are very effective against human controlled opponents. It is less effective against the computer AI as it seems to always know where you`re going!
The challenges in superstar mode vary from world to world however they are generally fun on the whole. They can be a little tedious in places sometimes relying on luck however with enough attempts you should be able to achieve them after a while. Challenges include shooting bad guys in Virtua squad, collecting rings in Sonic, killing zombies in Curien Mansion (House of the dead) and painting graffiti in Jet Set Radio. The only annoying world is Choo Choo Rocket where you must guide mice to a rocket by hitting floor pads which control the direction they move in. The time limits are strict and you will often hit the wrong pad or miss completely. It can get very annoying after a while. On the whole it's nice to see a variety of SEGA games and characters make an appearance in the game although only select worlds will have unique challenges. Worlds like Golden Axe, Alex the Kidd and Space Channel 5 only contain singles/doubles matches which makes Superstar mode seem unbalanced however it shouldn't dampen the fun
The main addition I'd like to see would be interactive environments; apart from the superstar moves the tennis plays out as it would in real life. This game would have benefited from being a bit wackier with the court layouts; a few obstacles, moving targets and things to hit in the background would have taken this game to the next level
Superstar and tournament mode can be completed fairly quickly. You shouldn't have too much trouble competing both. Defeating the secret stage in tournament mode and the odd random challenge will have you troubled for a while but they can both be overcome with time and effort. The game adds longevity in the form of multiplayer and Xbox live. There aren't many people playing this online however I've been on a few times and there's just enough people to get a game. I doubt you will find more than 10 online at once however you only need 1 to play a game. It's best to find a game at peak times during the evening. If you have enough mates (And controllers) than the fun is potentially endless. The single player can last you a while if you don't play it constantly however I played it solidly for about 2 days so the offline was completed relatively quickly.
I thought I'd put in a quick note for those who like to top up their gamerscore. The achievements are relatively straight forward here as expected. I have 690 after playing it for 2 days. There are a few Xbox live related achievements however these are quite manageable with repeated play. Those who try to obtain all the achievements will get in the region of 900+ if they keep at it. The complete 1000 might be impossible however as one achievement requires you to get a grade of AAA on all challenges in Superstar mode. A grade A in Superstar mode means you have passed that set challenge (Grades E to C are all fails). Grades AA and AAA can be seen as an A* or platinum for example. I honestly don't think many will be able to get AAA in everything. Getting an A is relatively straight forward but some challenges will have you pulling your hair out if you go for the AAA. In particular are the single/double matches where if you lose 2 points (It might even be just the 1 point) you can't get the AAA grade.
It's a fun and quirky game which anyone can enjoy with friends. Kids will enjoy it for the quirkiness although I don't think many will recognize all the SEGA characters. Only the older generations will recognize Golden Axe, Virtua Squad and Space Harrier. It's good to see a solid tennis game underneath the kiddy characters and worlds. After all, SEGA did make Virtua Tennis so this was never going to be a bad tennis game! Probably not the best game if you don't have Xbox live or friends to play with. Even Xbox live might not be enough as the game has been out a while and it was never going to compete with the likes of Gears of War and Left 4 Dead. A game to enjoy with friends for a laugh and you can't go wrong at under a fiver
Sega Superstars Tennis is a console tennis game using many of Sega's trademark characters as the players, this means that each has their own special powers and characteristics which make them good or bad players.
Players included in this game include, Sonic the Hedgehog, AiAi from Super Monkeyball fame, Ulala of Space Channel 5 and Amigo from Samba De Amigo.
There are a wide variety of settings based on the arenas each character hails from, so you can play in the Green Hill Zone as Sonic or Carnival Park if you play as Amigo.
The game in concept is a good one, the idea that each character has their own special characteristics is good and there special move is an interesting one too, as in Sonic's Super Sonic Attack where the ball zig zags through the air, however as a tennis fan it really ruins the fun of the game, this really shouldn't be classified as tennis but as an arcade game involving tennis, because the tennis itself is fairly simplistic until a special move is thrown in.
The controls are easy to use but the game play is way too simple, I do like the idea that there are a plethora of old Sega games within the game, so you can play mini-games involving Space Harrier, Space Invaders, House of the Dead and Virtua Cop, this gives a real throwback value to the game and makes it more fun.
The graphics are Sega through and through and could have been on the Megadrive ten years ago and nobody would have said they were groundbreaking, however they are sweet and a nice throwback.
The game is not anything special, its fun enough for a couple of matches but I've not used it again since, the game is available for £10.99 via HMV which seems reasonable for a game with not much depth and limited game play.
At first glance, Sega Superstars Tennis looks like one of those nothing games that would be better suited to a Wii. Stupid, fluffy characters hitting a ball around whilst accomplishing very little. Right? WRONG.
I first picked this game up for a bargain price on the Wii, and it was almost unplayable. However I liked what the game tried to do so I bought it on 360 instead. Perfect. It's much, much more suited to a controller, and is a surprisingly deep game. The controls are excellent - controlling in a very similar way to Virtua Tennis, and each character has a special move, which is a great addition and adds an extra twist to the game, in a similar way to the colelctibles in Mario Kart.
In addition to the standard tennis matches that make up the core of the game, there are also extra game-specific levels which are fun to play and add an extra layer to the game. House of the Dead levels for example, has you knocking off zombies with tennis balls, while Puyo Pop levels ask you to destroy the familiar tetris-style blobs with tennis shots.
Overall a great game that's suprisingly fun to play and adds a few great twists to the standard tennis format.
Tennis; not a sport I particularly enjoy watching, and certainly not a sport I've ever considered donning my finest Fred Perry and participating in, so any console game based on the racket sport was always going to face an uphill task trying to engage me. Sega Superstar Tennis nearly didn't deliver; I first played it last year, but getting beaten twice in quick succession and not being bothered to read the instructions and learn the controls meant I tossed it aside after half an hour of random joypad jiggery. Luckily, somebody I know started to extol its virtues as a good, fun and engaging game - so I thought I'd better slip it back into the Xbox 360's disk drive for a second outing. And I have to say I'm glad I did; five minutes browsing the instruction booklet and familiarizing myself with the games controls and I was away, lobbing and volleying like a modern day McEnroe in graphic form.
So what's the game all about then?
In its purest sense this is a tennis game, no surprise there then. But to lump this game in with other sport simulations would be to do it a disservice. You see, there are myriad of mini games that move this from a pure sports game to a fun and entertaining party game for all the family, young and old. To start, you play on the Sonic the hedgehog themed court, playing games either singularly or doubles as well as completing mini games relevant to the theme. As you progress through the games you unlock further missions within the sonic section by scoring an A mark - doing exceptionally well in any one game gives you a triple A mark which unlocks music tracks all pertinent to the section in question. For example, in the Outrun section you get to unlock the music you may have enjoyed while driving your Ferrari at high speeds in some dingy arcade in the eighties. When you complete a mission you unlock another theme as well as the character from the section you have just completed so you can play as that character in other sections. The goal is to complete all sections and unlock all of the sixteen characters to play with.
Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses; some are better chosen for their speed while other are slower, but pack much more power into their tennis strokes. Part of the game it determining which characters are best suited to any particular mini game or tournament and using their strengths accordingly. Characters also have super powers in keeping with their original games, for example AiAi from the Super Monkey Ball series of games throws bananas at you and curves his shots, while Dr Eggman from the Sonic the Hedgehog games fires spiked balls at you to throw you off your game and generally cause mayhem. These superpowers are gained by charging your players power meter which is achieved by winning points and hitting shots well. When your power meter is charged a star beneath the character spins, meaning a simple tap on either trigger button released merry hell in super power form.
Graphics, Sound & Gameplay
Unsurprisingly the graphics are bright, bold and beautiful; rich colours all adding to the gaming experience with all textures and details well executed. The sound comprises of the various squeaks, warbles and cries of joy from the characters as well as music tracks which are unlocked by completing tournaments, single games of tennis, or non tennis minigames. I have to say the gameplay is pretty good too; there are no skill levels to select, so everyone that picks up the joypad will be playing on an even field, or rather court. The minigames offer a nice little diversion and break up the monotony of the tennis matches while the tennis tournaments themselves offer a great way of pitting your racket based wits against a number of Sega characters, past and present. As the game nears its conclusion there are a couple of harder opponents that spring up as their sections become unlocked, not least an annoying little character called Alex Kidd who has me running around the court like a virtual reality madman - he really is extremely hard to defeat! Controls are easy once you know what they are; those who wish to push their opponents to the limit can practice a myriad of button pushes to lob, chip and smash their opponents, while those happy to play long rallies can easily get by with one button press and the directional stick on the joypad.
What sets this game apart from any other run of the mill tennis game is the minigames. Again you unlock these by completing matches in various Sega game themed sections. The games are many and varied; from defeating the approaching zombies by hitting them with balls, to taking out miscreant's sniper style as your racket spouts crosshairs. My personal favourites take place in the Sonic the hedgehog sections where you run about the court hitting balls and collecting rings, that and the Space Harrier section where you have to avoid assorted rocks, fireballs and dragons for a pre determined length of time - far harder than it sounds, trust me!
Can I play it online, or with a friend perchance?
Yes and yes to those two questions. Friends and acquaintances can simple grab a spare joypad and lend a hand defeating the best the game can throw at you. As far as online play is concerned the game offers the ability for eight people to compete in tournaments as well as single and doubles games. If you don't have anyone handy to play with you either online or by your side the game simply assigns a random character to partner you in doubles matches or tournaments.
Is all this ball bashing child friendly?
It most certainly is; the good folk at the Entertainment Software Rating Board have pegged this cartoon mayhem as an E10, meaning it can be enjoyed by anyone aged ten or above. There is no blood thirsty mayhem to worry about, the worst that can happen is for racket throwing Zombies or a stray banana striking you and making you miss a shot. Language wise the game is safe as well, indeed the closest thing to a cuss word is when one of the stars of the Super Monkey Ball series of games - AiAi, makes a disgruntled squeak if you manage to beat him/her. All in all it's very child safe, with lots of little jokes and asides all harmless and friendly.
So all in all a very nice little game that grows on you as you play it and unlock the content. Personally I'd of liked a pure tennis mode without the power ups and gimmicks to extend the games playability and add a new dimension for tennis purists - or as pure a tennis mode as it can be when you're playing as a blue hedgehog or robot! Currently you can purchase this game new for under £10; at that price you really cannot go wrong. Four stars out of five from me.
I was brought up on sonic the hedgehog (Milk would of been better, but times were hard) I had the comics, the games, the music, the videos hell i'd of bought a sonic the hedgehog home pregnancy test kit if I had found one. So when this game came along I thought why not, what a pleasant activity themed trip down memory lane this will be. And I was right, and I was wrong...
The game is chock full of sega nostalgia; the stages take the themes of various sega titles from past and present (Golden axe, Jet Set Radio, Outrun to name but a few) there is music from said games, and if you still dont have enough even the achievements are sega themed (SEGA RALLY - For hitting a 40 ball rally or AFTERBURNER - For a serve over 100mph, Genius!) and the characters - Sonic, Tails, Robotnik, Ulala (From the dreamcast game Space Channel 5), AiAi (Super Monkey Ball), NiGHTS, Beat (Jet Set Radio) and Samba (Samba Di Amigo) as well as another 8 secret unlockables are all lovingly recreated for your viewing and playing pleasure.
So how does it play? Well the games addictiveness is in its simplicity, choose a character from one of three classes - Speed, Power or Spin and wander around the court with the analogue stick and when the ball is hit as you or to serve it, hit a. It's that simple, of course as you play more you discover how to lob over the net, perform jumping smash shots and a whole lot more crazy acobatic feats which all feel become second nature as you battle it out for more wins.
The game is split into two main modes, the first mode is a straight up tennis simulator, 15, 30, 40, Game Set Match, Singles or Doubles, Wimbledon Fun. This is great with a second player, however take on the computer on any of the higher difficulty settings and prepare to bring a napkin as you will get served.
The second mode is called "Superstars" and involves your chose character taking part in a load of mini games to win more stages, music and characters for the main game. These mini games are all also sega themed, and go along the lines of the housed of the dead and virtua cop among others. Who among us hasnt wanted to use drop shots to drop zombies, or paint graffitti using tennis balls dipped in neon pink, and I know you're lying if you say you've never wanted to stop international terrorists from weapon smuggling with some well placed lobs.
So far so good I hear you cry but the problem comes along in the form of superstar moves.
The superstar moves are what the good people at sega threw into the game to make it more whacky and off the wall. And the superstar moves are what made me throw this game by the good people of sega, towards the wall. The premise is this - For good play and rallys etc you will fill up a star shaped meter at your feet, once this is topped up you can pull the back right trigger to activate your "Superstar" and do a special move, each character has his or her own unique move: Sonics ball zooms in weird directions, Beat graffitis his enemies stage making it hard for them to see and aiai throws bananas everywhere. These would be perfect except the computer... Is a computer, it knows what these moves do so it isnt fazed when your ball makes a number 5 then veers to the right as a human player would, so these "superstar" shots and replayed as if nothing has changed, then when they do it on you, of course you dont know what is happaning, so you lose, lots.
Added to this is the frustratingness of the minigames, they start off fun and get harder but every so often one will be thrown at you that boggles the mind, such precision, in a limited time, against unspeakable odds would drive even the Dalai Lama to break some controllers and you can see why this game becomes a love / hate one for me.
The graphics are fine for what the game is, everything is clear and easy to follow so that works well, and the sound as mentioned before is a fun trip down memory lane that fits in well with the action on screen.
Overall if you can look past these annoyances then this game is a brilliant cheap multiplayer game that will keep you playing for a long time, however if you have a short fuse or aren't too fussed by the idea of nostalgia or are after a more realistic tennis sim then there are others out there for you.
Oh and one last point, if Sonic is "The fastest thing alive" then in theory how can you shoot a ball past him? Or return a shot from him without your racket breaking? Not a problem in the game, more of a musing by a fan.