SEGA's Virtua Tennis sees another release this year, although this time around it has some serious competition. How does it stack up on the Wii?
The menus have been specifically designed for the Wii version, differing from the other consoles. But it’s by no means an improvement, just different for the sake of being different.
I found this easier to pick up and play without the MotionPlus peripheral. A handy bar at the bottom of the screen advised when to swing if you wanted to go across-court (swing early) or down the line (swing late). Using MotionPlus made the game more accurate, but the learning curve is a steep one. If you have M+ then use it from the start, because if you learn without it, then start using it then you have to retrain your whole swing and timing. Definitely use the nunchuk for player positioning as letting the AI control it provides many controller-throwing moments.
You can see why the smart game developers opt for the non-realistic, cartoony option when making Wii games. Virtua Tennis 2009 looks very average indeed as it tries to display the same character models as the more powerful consoles. They look crunchy, with extreme contrast in the lighting making the likes of Roger Federer look like Marcel Marceau. At best, the game looks like a PS2 port, albeit an average one.
The lengthy Career mode is thorough and will hold your interest. There’s a heap of varied mini-games just as in the other console versions to provide a distraction to the gruelling season.
Virtua Tennis 2009 looks like a port from the more powerful consoles and suffers for it. It has framerate issues and feels like Sega made the PS3/360 and PC versions then thought “Oh crap, I suppose we’d better do one for Wii too”, at the last minute. If you don’t have Wii MotionPlus then this is the one to go with as you’ll see results without too much effort.
The Wii was made for games like this and it’s only a matter of time before someone strikes the perfect balance between graphics, simulation and accessibility. Perhaps it will be up to Nintendo themselves to develop a Tennis sim that doesn’t involve Mii characters, floating limbs and cutsie sound effects – but don’t hold your breath.