Friday 15 July 2016

Virtua Tennis (Nokia N-Gage review)

Developer: Hitmaker
Publisher: Sega
Released: 2003

Virtua Tennis is a sports game that was first released in the Arcades in 1999.

It consists of three modes; Arcade (attempt to win four consecutive matches), Exhibition (single match) and World Tour (compete in tournaments to win money and rankings). Serving uses a simple metre to judge power and once a rally begins the shots on offer are a Top Spin, Slice, Lob and Drop Shot. Being a mobile port one nice feature is the ability to customise how many games are required to win each match. The Arcade style gameplay is good and the controls are tight and responsive. The action is super reliant on timing to gain momentum in a rally and it's fun trying to put yourself in the best possible position on the court to wind up for a powerful shot. Each match only lasts for a few minutes and in that sense it's perfect as a handheld game. However, while it's not a huge issue, players do move quite slowly and it takes forever for them to regain their footing after diving for a ball! It's also too easy to abuse the net, as opponents rarely lob, meaning you can win tournaments by using the same strategy. On a similar note, the game isn't even remotely challenging and the difference between Normal and Very Hard is minimal. The atmosphere is also lacking (as the motionless crowd only pipe-up on a few random occasions) and there's some lengthy load times, including delays of up to five seconds where players awkwardly stare at each other! The World Tour mode is too short (with only four tournaments) but it has the most substance and it's addictive climbing up the rankings while winning cash and improving your stats. There's also some great energetic music that harkens back to 1990's Arcade racers.

Virtua Tennis is a solid sports title that's ideal for a quick gaming session on the go. It's very accommodating to both newcomers and veterans but I just wish it was more balanced in the gameplay department and had a bit more depth to its modes to make the experience last longer.
Random trivia: The game was also ported to the Game Boy Advance in North America (2002) and in Europe (2003).

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