With gaming fans loving titles that bring together a whole bunch of their gaming heroes together in one handy package, it’s little surprise that SEGA Superstar Tennis exists. What’s a touch more shocking is the fact that it’s a hell of a lot more fun than most could have expected.
SEGA, of course, have ample experience crafting stunning tennis titles. The sublime Virtua Tennis series provides a real solid base for SEGA Superstar Tennis to build upon, and some added fun features crammed in helps add up to the kind of game that no-one could fail to find enthralling.
The developer's history of tennis titles – and one that’s still considered the absolute pinnacle of the genre – is blatant considering that SEGA Superstar Tennis is little more than a simplified version of said classic series. You only have two shots designated to face buttons on your controller, with combinations of the two initiating the kind of lobs and drop shots that when used to their zenith, almost always initiate an awarded score.
But if that was all, why would anyone plump for this when they already own so many tennis titles? Well, each character has an entirely unique shot, a special move that can only be initiated when a little yellow star representing your Superstar move meter fills out entirely. Each shot ties in perfectly with the character, and thankfully all of which - while incredibly difficult to return - aren’t a guarantee to win the point, meaning the game doesn’t descend into seeing who can unleash their special moves first.
So out on court things are a real treat. The gameplay is dazzlingly fun, and the simplistic nature of the control system means that almost anyone can pick up and play and put up good fight against a grizzled old veteran. But for some, that might not necessarily be a plus point.
One huge difference between this and the Virtua Tennis series is the lack of character building. Where the latter offered glorious mini-games to up your character's stats which you really felt as you got further up the rankings, such depth isn’t to be found here. It’s just pure arcade-like goodness, and hence isn’t exactly one to keep the more lonely gamer in rapture.
The minus points don’t stop there. The mini-games refuse to hit the heights of SEGA’s other tennis-based title, and a somewhat unreliable frame rate doesn’t help keep your mind focused purely on the task at hand.
What you do have to love is the sheer, well, SEGA-ness of the entire affair. It’s all blue skies, colourful joyous characters, and that kind of blatant "SEGA feel" that millions of gamers worldwide love. Sumo Digital have done another fantastic job with a SEGA IP and will make it one of those that fans of some of Sega’s classic titles will enjoy.
Though the lack of depth makes this one a weekend play for a single-player, multi-player is about as joyous an experience as gaming gets. The simplistic control system is a breeze to get to grips with, and makes it the perfect title for the whole family to enjoy.
For long-time SEGA fans, and particularly those who remember those days of pure blue skies, SEGA superstar Tennis is much more than a simple fan service. It’s a fun filled multiplayer riot, and one that comes highly recommended to those bored of the obscene "depth" offered by most titles in this modern gaming age.