Ever since we took our first swing on the Wii remote during the tennis game on Wii Sports we've been hoping for another tennis title to grace the console. Don't get us wrong, Wii Sports is still a fantastic game, we were just hoping for a title with a little more depth in terms of gameplay options. Well, Sega obviously hopes that plenty of other Wii fans feel the same, with the company releasing the first tennis title for the Wii since Nintendo's bundled-in title. So, is Sega Superstars Tennis a pick up and play title with enough depth to overshadow Wii Sports or are most people better off with Nintendo's tennis original?
Sega Superstars Tennis isn't just a straight up tennis game. Sega Superstars Tennis is what would happen if Sonic had a party and during this party he decided to play tennis. Sonic is a charitable guy (we always get his invitations), so he invites us along with several Sega friends, such as Ulala from Space Channel 5, AiAi from Super Monkey Ball and just because he doesn't want to leave him out, Dr. Eggman.
Sega Superstars Tennis is a title that contains a healthy amount of options. Sure, there are all the standard tennis options, such as playing a singles or doubles match or participating in a tournament, but the main single player mode is the superstars mode. The superstars mode contains 14 different worlds, with each world based on a recognisable Sega franchise. Franchises such as Super Monkey Ball, Sonic the Hedgehog, Puyo Pop Fever, Samba De Amigo, House of the Dead, Space Channel Five, Jet Set Radio and more are represented. Each different world in the superstars mode features different challenges. The challenges can be quite varied, Sonic the Hedgehog for example starts off with a single match, then a tournament but the third challenge is a ring collection mini game. There is a surprisingly large amount of challenges in the game, but while some of the mini games are solid, others are just tedious. Sega fans will probably get a decent amount of enjoyment out of "discovering" some of the challenges, new worlds and characters though. Those who just want to skip the tennis game altogether can just select the games option from the main menu, but not every game is available from the beginning.
One of the main omissions from the Wii version of Sega Superstars Tennis is an online mode. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game include online support and considering the Wii's online service is quite established by now it's a little disappointing Sega decided not to include online support in the Wii version.
The main problem with Sega Superstars Tennis is the fact that the game is just too shallow. Virtua Tennis is an arcade title, but still has a surprising amount of depth that gives the player a large degree of control over the ball. Sega Superstars Tennis, however, does not give the player a whole degree of control. In the Wii version there are a few control systems, one with the nunchuk, one without the nunchuk and one with just the Wii Remote turned on the side. Most players will just stick with the default control system, which utilises just the Wii Remote. Unfortunately the controls aren't as responsive in Sega Superstars Tennis as they are in the tennis in Wii Sports and sometimes the game won't even recognise the player's motions.
In Sega Superstars Tennis each character also has a superstar ability, which can be activated once the star below a character flashes (for example: Sonic can turn into Super Sonic). The superstar abilities aren't all that satisfying and end up feeling more like gimmicks. Points also have a tendency to go on forever, which means that half of the time during a match we would feel ourselves tuning out of a point, until eventually someone would accidentally miss the ball and a point would be awarded. It is actually both unfortunate and ironic that the tennis is easily the most disappointing aspect of Sega Superstars Tennis.
In terms of lifespan, Sega Superstars Tennis does feature a heck of a lot of things to do. Aside from the superstars mode (which is extremely lengthy) there is also the multiplayer aspect of the game. As a party title, we can see Sega Superstars Tennis getting some playtime, but a lot of the unlocking feels like Sega artificially extending the length of the game. For example, most of the worlds in the superstars mode are locked at the beginning, only half of the characters can be selected and only four mini games are available when you first boot up the game. The lack of an online mode does mean the Wii version won't last gamers as long as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions of Sega Superstars Tennis, too.
Those hoping for a Wii Sports replacement are sure to be a little disappointed by Sega Superstars Tennis. The motion controls just aren't as intuitive and responsive as the tennis in Wii Sports and some of the mini games do get old quite quickly. Ultimately, Sega Superstars Tennis tries to mix both mini games and tennis and unfortunately doesn't excel at either.