APP OF THE DAY: Virtua Tennis Challenge review (iPad / iPhone)

If you are reading this with a sense of nostalgia then you no doubt owned a Sega Dreamcast and remember the halcyons days of the previous generation of console gaming.

Still, rather than reminisce about gaming days gone by, you should relish the fact that Sega has released Virtua Tennis Challenge for the iPad and iPhone just in time for Wimbledon. So is it any good?

Virtua Tennis Challenge

Format
iPad (version tested), iPhone, iPod touch
Price
£2.99
Where
iTunes

Serve up the app and you are presented with various options: Quick Match, which involves a you playing for a single point' SPT World Tour, the campaign mode; Exhibition Match, that lets you practise in game; Multiplayer, that lets you involve others; and Training to let you hone your skills.

Exhibition Match is the quickest way to get to the action, allowing you to pick a quick game to experience the tennis action on several different courts, including clay at Madrid, grass at Wimbledon or hard at Melbourne.

If you have more patience you can opt for the SPT World Tour and it is here you’ll find the single-player campaign element to the game, playing for coin to advance in the game and become world No 1.

Whichever route you choose, you get to play plenty of tennis - no bad thing considering this is a tennis game - and that means you’ve got to hone your racquet skills.

With dozens of competitors there is plenty of variety - even if on the surface they all look the same - and the main focus is to learn the trade of the control mechanisms put in front of you.

Sega has opted to give you plenty of choices on this front and there are four different ways to control Virtua Tennis. Making the right choice will depend on whether you feel that this game is worth the pennies you paid or not.

Sega will from the offset suggest “Swipe”, which sees you perform a number of gestures on screen to serve your way to victory. Trouble is, unless you have the skills of a ninja and reactions to match you will be struggling to return serve at any chance let alone when it is important.

After getting frustrated we switched to a different control mode, and got far better results from a more traditional setup. While it might litter the screen with buttons it did mean we could at least return the volley.

You’ll know which one is best for you, but it is worth pointing out that if you might fail at one, you’ll succeed at another, so don’t give up hope.

In game and the graphics are just as we remember from the Dreamcast, with the tennis flowing wonderfully. Forget the menu graphics - which are appalling, by the way - and focus on the gameplay, which is great.

Virtua Tennis isn’t by any means as polished as previous Sega offerings on the consoles, but for an iPad app we have to admit this is pretty good fun whether you like tennis or not, and perfect to let you relive the joys of Wimbledon. 



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