Are you looking for the next party game? This might be the one! Sega Superstars tennis is a cool sports video game for those who don’t need a serious tennis experience in their living room. It’s all about having fun.
The game features 16 Sega characters, most of which you will recognize at first glance. Sonic, of course, is the center of the party, but many others have joined him, like Tails, Amy, Shadow, Dr. Eggman, and characters from other popular Sega franchises like NiGHTS and Reala (from NiGHTS into Dreams and NiGHTS Journey of Dreams), Alex Kidd, Amigo (from Samba de Amigo), Beat and Gum (from Jet Set Radio), Ulala and Pudding (from Space Channel 5), Gilius Thunderhead (from Golden Axe), and Ai Ai and Meemee (from Super Monkey Ball). With this complete lineup, the game is sure to please Sega fans more than anyone! Luckily, the gameplay is fun enough that it will please many others as well.
Sega Superstars Tennis will have you play tennis as you know it, but not without a twist: each character has special abilities and a Superstar State. By performing well, a star symbol beneath your character will fill up and start glowing. That’s your time to shine! Activate the Superstar State and surprise your opponents with amazing powers like throwing bananas to the other side of the court, sending a bunch of aliens their way to cause distraction, hitting the ball with “Super Sonic” effect, firing spiked eggs or dazing them by dancing around or flirting with heart shapes. Although this game formula has been used in Mario Power Tennis, I don’t think having a Sega version is that bad. It’s important to have options! I can’t say the game turned out as good and sharp as Mario Power Tennis, but it’s still fun and it’s available for Wii.
The game has a few game modes that will keep you entertained. First of all, you can play a match at any time, singles or doubles, against computer opponents, against friends or with friends against the CPU. That means you can jump right into the action, and up to four people can play at the same time. There’s also a Tournament mode. Here you’ll face five different adversaries in order to achieve the Tournament Cup. It’s funny how they show a cup at the beginning, but then there’s no celebration when you win! Where’s my Cup? There are indeed a few problems with the game presentation, but we’ll talk about that later. There’s also a Games mode that contains eight Virtua Tennis-like mini-games, four of which you’ll have to unlock by playing the main mode: Planet Superstars.
Planet Superstars has several different sections with diverse challenges. Each section has a different Sega game theme with cool courts like Sonic’s Green Hill and Scrap Brain Zone, Carnival Park from Samba de Amigo, Super Monkey Ball, and even the Curion Mansion from House of the Death. You’ll play tourneys, matches, and mini-games, unlocking new challenges as you go. The challenges are based on one of the eight mini-games and evolve into different variations of each of them. I spent a good amount of time playing in the Jet Set Radio neighborhood, picking up paint cans and trying to color graffiti with the tennis balls. At the Curion Mansion you’ll encounter the undead; they’ll drag themselves towards you while you try to shoot tennis balls at them to take them out. The mini-games are not that clever, but can become addictive if played for long. The more you play and win in Planet Superstars, the more bonus stuff you’ll unlock, including new challenges, game tunes, characters, etc.
Technically, the game is not top of the line. It plays, in fact, better than Wii Sports Tennis; but that’s easy enough to do, as Wii Sports was basically a “test” title. In Sega Superstars Tennis you have the option to attach the Nunchuk to the Wii remote and use the control stick to move the character around the court easily. You’ll use the Wii remote to perform the actual tennis moves, as if it were a racket. The instructions included in the game manual are pretty terrible and don’t explain the motion controls very well, and there’s not an actual tutorial within the game, so I didn’t quite figure out the technicalities on how to perform a slice or a lob, although I did know how to do a drop shot, which was a good strategy against the computer once in a while.
The game has a learning curve, and at first you’ll feel like things are not working. After a while, you’ll get the hang of it and start destroying the CPU player with ease. To return the ball, simply hold the Wii-mote flat over your hand and swing it left to right or right to left. Moving the Nunchuk’s directional stick just after hitting the ball (almost simultaneously), will send the ball in the desired direction. This doesn’t seem to always work, but I think it’s part of the learning process. The drop shot is executed by holding the B trigger while hitting the ball.
If your mind is not open to motion controls, you can just use the Wii remote as a classic controller. You can either hold it horizontally or vertically once you select it on the controller options screen; the D-pad will move the character and help you aim the ball. You can hit 1 or 2 to return the ball, and by pressing one after another (first 1 then 2 or vice versa) you’ll achieve the useful slice and lob shots. Serving is also very important, just like in real tennis. There’s a star gauge that fills up while the ball is in the air. If you hit the ball when the gauge is at its max, your opponent will have a hard time returning that excellent serve!
The menu interface is not very good-looking, and switching between Wii remote and Nunchuk to just Wii remote to move through the menus it’s rather dull. I have seen this in other Wii games, and it’s kind of frustrating.
I also wished the game was more visually appealing, but it’s not. Even though it’s basically the same game you’ll see on the Xbox 360 or the PS3, the textures are very blurry and just plain ugly on the Wii. The characters look pretty good from far away, but also a little fuzzy, and same with everything else in the game. The design of the stages is nice and colorful, and a good reminder of those old and newer games. However, they look too blurry on the Wii. Also, not enough detail was thrown into the different courts. I especially noticed how bad the NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams stage looks compared to the actual NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams game, even though it’s the same exact environments. I’m not sure why the graphics turned out this way, but it’s not attractive at all, although I’m sure kids won’t have a problem with that. Adults will though; we don’t want our party attendants to laugh at us and make comments about the tacky graphics on Nintendo Wii!
The soundtrack is packed with popular Sega tunes you’ve heard in the different games showcased in the title. From Super Monkey Ball to Sonic or Samba de Amigo, there’s music for everyone. They’re mostly lighthearted tunes, although levels like those from Jet Set Radio and Space Channel 5 have a much more alternative feel. You can unlock new songs as you play though the Planet Superstars mode. The sound effects are typical of tennis games: the ball drops, the ball is hit by the racket, the audience cheers, etc.; nothing too special in that department. As for the characters’ voices, you have to remember it’s a cartoonish game with cartoon characters and cheesy cartoon voices that complain when they lose and celebrate when they’re kicking butt. They do get repetitive, as it’s to be expected from this kind of game.
So what’s the final judgment for Sega Superstars Tennis on Wii? It’s a fun and more complete alternative to Wii Sports tennis. Being able to move the character with the control stick is huge. The presentation is not great, but it doesn’t detract from fun and engaging gameplay, and if you love Sega characters, you’ll enjoy having them as part of the game and playing in their environments. There’s a learning curve for the motion controls, but it’s worth learning how to play with them. However, please keep in mind that if you play too many hours at a time (don’t play more than two!!!) you’ll become the perfect candidate for “Wii-elbow syndrome.” I can tell you from personal experience it wasn’t easy to type this review with terrible pains shooting all through my arms. Still, I had to do it before one of you makes the same mistake!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
Unfortunately the graphics and presentation don’t look great on the Wii. Textures look rather ugly and don’t compare to other Wii games. 3.7 Control
There’s a learning curve, but using the motion controls is where’s at. The game is an improvement over Wii Sports Tennis, thanks to the use of the Nunchuk controller to move the character, while swinging with the Wii remote. It can get tiring though. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is totally Sega-ish, which means mostly simple and lighthearted, with some techno added to the formula, for stages like Space Channel 5. There are plenty of familiar tunes right off the bat, and you can unlock even more. Typical tennis sound effects and cheesy character voices finish up the equation. 4.0
Even though the graphics don’t look great on the Wii, motion controls make the game special. If you enjoyed Wii Sports Tennis, you should enjoy this one even more. It may be your next party game!
3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.