|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sumo Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sega||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
February 27, 2008 - With a large cast of characters to work with, and probably somewhat inspired by Nintendo's Mario Tennis, Sega Superstars Tennis looks pretty promising based on recent trailers. While the control scheme of the racket-swinging may be most fun on the Wii, the over-the-top arcade feel of Sega Superstars Tennis may also appeal to Playstation or 360 owners who want a more fun, less simulated tennis experience. On all platforms other than the DS, the content will remain pretty much the same. However, online play will only be available for the 360 and PS3 versions - Sorry, Wii owners.
With what we know so far, Sega Superstars Tennis will represent a total of fifteen Sega franchises in its characters, playing courts, and mini-games. The game will include 16 playable characters from eight different games. From the Sonic the Hedgehog world, you will be able to play as Sonic, Tails, Amy Rose, Dr. Eggman, and Shadow the Hedgehog. From Super Monkey Ball, Aiai and Meemee will join the cast as well as Alex Kidd, Amigo, Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe, Beat and Gum from Jet Set Radio, Ulala and Pudding from Space Channel 5, as well as Nights and Reala from Nights into Dreams. When you first begin playing Superstars Tennis, you will only have access to eight characters - Sonic, Tails, Eggman, Aiai, Nights, Ulala, Beat, and Amigo. The other eight will have to be unlocked in the game's Superstars mode. These, however, are only the game's "playable characters," and it is rumored that other characters that may be featured in the game cheering you on from courtside. It is also rumored that there may be other characters and extras available to be unlocked which may be announced closer to the release date or left for a surprise for Sega fans. Keep in mind these are just rumors, however.
Screenshots of the tennis courts included in Sega Superstars look pretty impressive - full of bright colors and lots of activity. There will be a total of ten courts inspired by Sega franchise games including Sonic the Hedgehog, House of the Dead, Alex Kidd, Space Channel 5 and others. Confirmed playable courts will be Aqua Garden, Carnival Park, Coconut Beach, The Curien Mansion, Galactic Cruiser, Green Hill Zone, Monkey Island, Scrap Brain Zone, Shibuya-Cho, and a yet-to-be announced court from the classic After Burner.
As far as gameplay, expect fast-paced tennis with a strong focus on unleashing special moves individual to each character. Each superstar will have their own ability that will be disruptive to the opponent and helpful to you or your team. While playing a match, the pulsating star that marks your character underneath it will grow brighter depending on how well you do. When it reaches a certain level of brightness it will begin to spin, at which point you can unleash your special move any time while the ball is in play. When you unleash the super-move, there will be a small animation that plays, though if they become too distractive during gameplay, they can be turned off in the options menu. For example, when playing as Sonic, his super move transforms him into Super Sonic which puts his signature speed into his shots, along with a crazy spin on the ball. When unleashing Dr. Eggman's super-move, he will return explosives along with the tennis ball forcing opponents to dodge out of the way while trying to whack the ball back.
Another big draw to Sega Superstars Tennis will be cool-looking mini-games, a few of which seem borrow ideas from Sega's classic Virtua Tennis title. Sega is promising a total of eight mini-games, four of which will be available immediately and the other four will have to be unlocked by completing certain challenges in Superstars mode. Sega recently released video of one of the coolest-looking mini-games based on the classic House of the Dead. While you play as a character of your choice on one side of the net, undead zombies rise up from the ground on the other side and slowly make their way towards you. You must hit balls onto their side to wipe them all out before they reach the net. Another mini-game will be based on the Sonic the Hedgehog ring collection, where any two characters of your choice race around the tennis court to collect the golden rings while avoiding getting hit by electrified mines. Also announced are games similar to those in the Virtua Tennis series including a target mini-game, a Space Harrier game, a Puyo Puyo game, a Virtua Cop game, and a Samba De Amigo game.
The Superstars mode is a tournament mode where you unlock these mini-games as well as new levels, characters, and challenges. In Superstars mode, the player will choose a Sega game world of his or her choice and complete challenges specific to that land. For example, the Jet Set Radio tennis court features spray cans to collect while you avoid police officers in Superstars mode.
Sega fans who love the characters and love playing less-realistic, more arcade-like tennis games will have a lot to look forward to this March. Time will tell how much fun Sega Superstars Tennis will actually be, though screenshots and recent trailer footage looks promising.
CCC Freelance Writer