Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In the background: characters who were collecting dust before this game.
This is going to be relatively quick as I didn't have much patience to play beyond what the game initially offered. As such, don't view this as anything more than an extended impression of sorts.
That being said, I found Mario Tennis on the N64 more enjoyable.
Sega Superstars Tennis doesn't have much to offer in terms of stuff to do. You can experiment with different characters as there is a decent roster of 16 characters (though 5 of them, almost 1/3 of the roster are Sonic characters). There are different types of characters with different focuses such as ballspin, speed, power, control, and all around. The only ones that seemed to make any major difference in how I played were speed and power.
Each character is also supposed to have a special ability that builds up over the course of a match which can cause the ball to take weird paths through the air and confuse the opponent, as well as having other effects such as the Rokkaku Police running onto the court for Beat's and Gum's specials. The thing is, the computer opponent is never fooled by the weird flight patterns, which make the ball take way more time to get across the court and reduces that would-be strategic move to little more than a novelty.
You can play a singles or a doubles tournament if you like, though at most you'll end up playing three matches and a "special" hidden stage against the Sonic villains before a rather lazy credit sequence plays. Outside of adjusting the difficulty, that's it for this mode.
I don't wanna work. I wanna bang on this game all day.
The beef of the game, however, is in a mode called Planet Superstars. The idea is to jump around different game worlds based on different Sega franchises and completing specific tasks according to the world you enter. For example, the Puyo Pop Fever world involves completing a game of Puyo Pop by smacking tennis balls at grouped puyos of matching colors. The House of the Dead "Curien Mansion" world involves hitting zombies with tennis balls as they shamble toward you and/or throw axes. The Virtua Squad world turns the game into a gallery shooter where you try to take out targets before they "shoot" you. Space Harrier world is basically Space Harrier... with tennis balls and without the ability to fly.
Those are all well and good except for two things.
One, some of these challenges really expose how strange some of the game's controls are. Only in singles or doubles matches/tournaments can you pick the control scheme to use, of which there are three (one with the nunchuk, two without). Most of the time it forces you to play with the Wiimote held like an NES controller, where performing drop shots or lobs involves mashing both buttons at the same time in a certain sequence. Aiming these is also a chore as sometimes you need to hold a certain direction, then move to a diagonal direction while making the shot. This is absolutely infuriating to do in places like the Chu Chu Rocket world, where you need to hit a specific tile, sometimes more than once, quickly to not fail the stage. Thanks for taking the fun out of Chu Chu Rocket, Sega.
The second problem is the more glaring issue, though. There is zero balance to these worlds. The Sonic world has a total of 14 missions, easily the most in the game. Super Monkey Ball and Jet Set Radio have 12. Virtua Squad, Puyo Pop Fever, Chu Chu Rocket and Space Harrier have 10
Guess how many missions the Space Channel 5, Samba de Amigo, OutRun worlds each have? Just two each.
NiGHTS isn't much better off with only three missions, though all of them got it better than Golden Axe and Alex Kidd which have just one goddamn mission each.
More like Lonely Axe, am I right?
Not only that, but many assets get reused between each world. For example, Space Channel 5's court is used for the Chu Chu Rocket world, which really pissed me off because Space Channel 5's court legit screws with my eyes. Because of the mix of dark colors and bright lines I would occasionally lose track of where the ball was or, for overhand smashes, have no idea where the ball was in the air and completely miss the shot.
Oh, and did I mention the game isn't the best programmed thing I've played recently? In the time I spent playing doubles matches with this game, my character froze for no apparent reason on five separate occasions.
It's a good thing I didn't pay much for this game or I'd be more pissed off. Until then I'll just continue to sulk about how there are no new Jet Set Radio/Golden Axe/Chu Chu Rocket/OutRun/House of the Dead games coming any time soon.
Although there is Hover: Revolt of Gamers being developed, so that's something.