Sega Superstars Tennis review
Inconsistent and boring time waster inferior to Virtua Tennis 3
Every gamer has a deep dark secret about themselves. Mine is that I'm not a fan of Mario Tennis and its sequel. Both games just weren't all that interesting to me. I mean it was good with friends, but it just couldn't top Mario Party or Super Smash Brothers in that aspect. Even when compared to other Mario sports titles, Mario Tennis is just "eh its alright". Mario Kart was much better, though. Overall, Mario Tennis is just there. So why on earth did Sega think it was a good idea to put their characters in that sort of setting? Why give Sonic, Shadow, Nights and other characters they created... tennis rackets? Honestly, I was expecting them just flat out rip off Super Smash Brothers, but unfortunately, Sega didn't give a shit about anybody except the guys that give them money like the money hungry Jews they are, or they would've done a Super Smash Brothers sort of game instead! I know game developing and publishing is a business and whatnot, but seriously, what were they thinking here? I mean, don't you lose money based on returns? Because I'm sure many people returned this game straight away!
To start this off, think of Mario Power Tennis, then put Sonic and friends and acquaintances (like that monkey from Samba De Amigo or the monkeys from Super Monkey Ball) and settings over the Mario stuff. That is Sega Superstar Tennis in a nutshell. But if you haven't played Mario Power Tennis and are thinking of purchasing this game, let me just say that Mario Power Tennis is a far better purchase, because the way Sega handled this one is that they buggered up.
If you aren't familiar with tennis to begin with, it is a sport played between two players (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a string racket to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. It's a sport that requires a lot of hand eye coordination and concentration, and it's pretty fun to play (though very bloody boring to watch... kind of like golf, but not as bad). If this sounds like a better concept than the same thing but with special powers and shit, get Virtua Tennis 3 instead. That's tennis...and just tennis. Sega Superstar Tennis prefers to give everyone superpowers depending on their performance, because we all know that hasn't been done before! Actually, I'm starting to feel like playing Virtua Tennis 3 right now!
Anyway, what Sega decided to add are character-specific superpower-like abilities. If you do a good enough job of walloping your opponent, the star under your character will start glowing, and you can then use superpowers to aid in beating your opponent. However, I think this is flawed. Not really because I think the concept is stupid and makes the game feel like it appeals only to kids who probably have no idea who most of these characters are, but more because of how unbalanced it is. Seriously, a lot of them fall flat on their asses! Most of these powers involve hitting the ball in a certain sort of motion. Now, this would prove to be somewhat of a threat against other human players - which is the way it should be played, by the way - but against computer controlled characters, you could swear that they the intelligence of a six year old if they miss the ball.
On the subject, the AI sucks! It suffers from Soul Calibur 3 syndrome, which has two distinct varieties - it's either as if they're being controlled by epileptics, or controlled by supercomputers that should be trying to find a cure for cancer instead of playing crappy games that only get bought because they come bundled with 360's anyway. Playing against the opponents with little to no skill meant easy wins, while playing against much more skilled, or should I say much cheaper players usually ends up being a test of patience, meaning it'll take a millennium before you can get that ball over to the other side against the cheap AI, and it will be well before then when they get the ball past you! It's like they get super speed and super skill!
However, maybe I shouldn't slap the Soul Calibur 3 label so soon. Let's briefly look at Soul Calibur 3's AI. Yeah, it's inconsistent, but at least there, the AI of a particular fighter is consistent. Here, the AI changes often after you get a few points. It makes sense that they go from bad players who could easily be replaced by Stephen Hawking (as they hardly move or hit back) to the likes of a tennis pro, I'll live with that. It shows that they've been studying my patterns and crap. However, I'd like to know what they were thinking when they decided to go from pro to crap in that same match... It can't be fatigue, because the characters are able to keep running and scoring for entire matches, no matter the length. Somethings definitely screwy here, as opponents can go from good back to hardly doing anything to fight back! A constantly annoying thing is that there are changes in the AI every so often, that you wonder if the supercomputers keep getting red rings of death every few minutes!
So with that said, yeah, it's a party game. It's best played with friends or online, although only for short periods of time. Sega realized this, and thought it'd be a good idea to include a single player mode. Tournaments and single matches, fair enough, it is a sports game after all, and I wouldn't hate this game as much if it was just those (plus if it fixed up the AI), but that's not the single player mode that they thought of. Nah, they thought "let's just put in some shallow and boring mini games. I mean, we're all annoyed over the nasty reviews of Sonic 06, so let's just piss everyone off with this!"
Single player is, like I said, a bunch of mini games. It includes some tournaments and single matches where you can unlock extra characters, though at this point, extra characters = extra fanservice, as every character plays about the same. The tournaments and single matches are plagued with the AI problems I mentioned earlier, but Sega tried as hard as they could to make these mini game so juvenile and cheap (in conjunction with other problems) so that nobody could possibly want to like this game at all unless they were looking to kill time. I guess it appeals to kids, but what about other gamers? Hmm?
Most of these mini games range from running to get coins (and on half a court with tennis-like controls I might add), to breaking blocks, to killing zombies and even hitting monkey balls. I'll admit that I found some of these mini games kind of fun. Hitting the colored blocks was fine and dandy for a bit. Hitting cardboard cutouts wasn't bad either. Hitting zombies with tennis balls was pretty fun, if only for about five minutes (which is how long it took to beat most of the zombie level). The only problems I could pick out is that they get old after a while, and with some of them, passing them was way too easy (in fact, only very few parts of a couple of levels tried to be hard... which failed because they were just tedious as hell). Unfortunately, the other mini games are just plain tedious due to either mediocre at best aiming physics (which is kind of inaccurate at times) or because of some power problems I'll point out later. Overall, it's a complete chore to play through the single player mode, and you're better off leaving this for parties or multiplayer purposes, provided you don't mind embarrassing yourself in front of your friends when you get annoyed because of some crap (trust me, people can get that competitive).
So what's so special about multiplayer, anyway? The fact that you don't have to deal with crap AI (unless you're playing doubles with or against computer controlled characters). You do mostly the same sort of thing you do in the single player matches and even the main single player mode, whoopee! Even if, for some reason, you found them fun, it doesn't usually last too long, for old man repetition rears his ugly head. But even when he does, this is probably the most fun you'll ever have, competing with your friends to see who is better (or better yet, who is more patient). Unfortunately, that's probably where all the fun went.
To be absolutely honest with you guys, gameplay-wise, repetition is the biggest flaw. After an hour or so, the game really starts to get boring. There isn't really much point to playing this for too long because there isn't really any content. All the courts are different only by their cosmetics, and all the characters play about the same. Like I've said many times before, this is more of a multiplayer game.
You know what really gets on my nerves, though? The controls. I honestly did not know that it was possible to screw up such simple controls in this day and age. The first problem I have has to be the fact that the hitting buttons only register half the time, and when they don't, you're just standing there looking like an idiot. No, I did not just lightly tap the A button like it was nothing! I bloody pressed it normally and the character didn't even hit it! This is a real game killing problem!
The second and final problem I had with the controls was that the game couldn't consistently measure my power. Even if you hit the ball from the same place and pointed the left analog stick at the same place, the force of the hit wouldn't stop changing. Oftentimes, it lead to some cheap losses because the ball would bounce probably a millimeter over the line - yet I bet if it was the opponent who did that, they'd get the point anyway. Another game killer, and possibly one that'll get you to smash your controller. And you think overly Christian folks brainwashing kids would get people angry!?
Before I start to smash my computer and strangle myself with cords, I'll start talking about the aesthetics. The graphics are cartoony and whatnot, and they suit the game considering it's supposed to be about old Sega characters. If they looked more realistic, they'd look like crap. However, the visuals that stand out have to be the vibrantly colored environments and courts, which are very well detailed and the special effects for the courts were also worth checking out. That said, it makes the character models look a bit bland by comparison, even if they still look nice too.
Soundwise, it was mixed. Hearing everybody say the same few lines each and every time something happened got very repetitive - and in a terrible way I might add, since it was basically the same few lines with some mediocre voice acting. However, the soundtrack makes up for this. What it is, is that it's either ripped from the not so old games, or remixed from old games. Although it takes a simple approach, at least it works well. I enjoyed the soundtrack very well for the most part, though that seems to be how Sega operate nowadays... good graphics and soundtrack, but hackneyed everything else.
Now, you're probably all wondering "why so elitist". Good question guys. Well, it lies in the fact that I didn't find it fun at all. I couldn't stand to play it for too long because the AI was driving me nuts and the mini games were either too tedious or too easy. The only fun I found was when the AI got lost and competing with friends seemed like a grand idea. I know it's meant to be one of those time wasting games you play with friends, but with many issues, I don't see why people should settle for this when Mario Tennis, Mario Power Tennis, Virtua Tennis 3 and even bloody Wii Sports's tennis mode are much better? Nostalgia?
I mean honestly, if what Sega wanted to do to bring players back to the past, they certainly did a below-average job of it. Personally, I would've settled for a free for all fighting sort of game with remixed or ripped soundtracks from Sega titles if they wanted to give them freaking tennis rackets! But if you want to go back to the past with Sega without the need for friends to come over or get it to play with you via Xbox Live/PSN/Wi-Fi, just go grab Sega Genesis Collection for the PS2, or just dust off your old Master System or Genesis and play some of those! Even if you can't do any of those, this game isn't worth a purchase. For the most part, there are way better tennis titles and way better party titles, and if it means missing a chance to go back to the past with a lackluster tennis game, so be it.
A tennis game with unbalanced powers and AI, as well as getting very boring very quickly. Mini games weren't too bad, though.
Inconsistent power and angle measurements as well as inconsistent registering of button presses really gets annoying after time. Nothing special, though.
Character models look fine, but feel like mid-PS2 quality models when compared to the nice looking courts.
Voice acting that will eventually get on your nerves due to repetitious dialogue (couldn't be helped though), though the soundtrack is pretty cool.
Not really much incentive to play after finishing tournaments, single player and such. Maybe multiplayer, but that's about it.
Only seems to be around when the AI isn't. Funny, isn't it... But yeah, with friends or on Xbox Live, it's quite fun playing against other people. Against the AI, though... get out! And even with multiplayer, the controls and unbalanced superpowers will eventually make you lose it.
Sega Superstar Tennis wasn't really that good, and even if you have fun with it, it doesn't last too long due to craploads of repetition and very little incentive to go on and on. Skip this game unless you're that desperate for some tennis action and Virtua Tennis 3 isn't on sale. Even though that's probably just as boring, at least it plays finely. This, however... ehh could've been much better.
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