Virtua Tennis 2009 (Hands-On) (Wii) Preview

By Mike Mason 20.05.2009 7

Review for Virtua Tennis 2009 (Hands-On) on Wii

A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to check out the Wii edition of Virtua Tennis 2009 for a brief while. However, that was a mere taster session compared to an event on Monday which was dedicated solely to the game itself, and allowed me the chance to really put it through its paces.

This time I started out with the non-Motion Plus remote-alone control setup. It works very similarly to Wii Sports tennis; your avatar tracks along automatically and the main challenge is correct timing. To give you a hand there's a meter above your avatar that represents the court layout. As the ball comes towards you an indicator zips across the bar and tells you which direction it will travel back in, towards your opponent, if you strike it at that time. While this may sound as though it could wipe out any challenge, it doesn't remove the need to judge each shot as it comes in terms of how to return it, and the indicator does not move at a standardized speed, instead altering according to the ball's velocity. A comparable timing system is used in Wii Sports, but Virtua Tennis shows all of its working out, and if you don't like it you can switch it off entirely. Another of Virtua Tennis' advantages is that you can control movement with the d-pad. Say you don't trust the AI tracking during a certain rally, or you want to lurch forward for a surprise dropshot over the net; just use the d-pad temporarily. The second you stop pressing it the game will resume automatic control; something that also applies in Motion Plus mode.

Screenshot for Virtua Tennis 2009 (Hands-On) on Wii

There weren't enough nunchuks about, so I didn't test those control methods any further than I did last time. Far more Motion Plus usage was on the cards, however, and I'm happy to report that it was easy to slip back into using it, and I was much more accomplished with it this time. Taking on board some of the comments from my first impressions I tested out as many shot types as I could remember, from loopy backhands and windscreen wiper forearms to forearms with top spin. While there were a couple of instances of swinging one way and having the ball go elsewhere, the game did recognise most of the actions and reacted appropriately. Fear not, though, as a more experienced tennis player than I will be handling Cubed3's official review, doubtlessly testing a wider variety of shots than I.

One thing that was more obvious this time was how to get the best shots. Not only do you have to follow through with full motions, but you must also pay attention to which side of the remote is moving into the hit. If the face or the back of the remote goes right into the ball there shouldn't be any problems, but if the remote goes side-on towards the ball you're going to get a fault if you're serving as it is though the ball is just smacking into the frame of your racquet. Another feature of the game that becomes more apparent with extended play is its use of the audience. Rather than having a flat, lifeless crowd, the game's developers have instead generated a 3D crowd and constructed their reactions to subtly switch about during matches. Attendance grows and wanes depending on the level of importance of your match, too, which is a nice touch.

Screenshot for Virtua Tennis 2009 (Hands-On) on Wii

Before each point you must aim at your avatar to give Motion Plus an opportunity to reset itself. Sumo tested doing this behind the scenes but ultimately opted to have it obvious and on the surface; it can slow things down a bit, but Sumo figures that at least this way the remote is getting reset properly, isn't losing accuracy and isn't 'tricking' player into thinking they're playing differently. The time for calibration has a strict few-second limit online to keep the pace up. Contrary to some opinion drifting about the Internet, Motion Plus has definitely not been added to Virtua Tennis at the last minute - it's been included since way back in early development. Due to the new controls available because of Motion Plus, the developers have included demonstrations and training modes on how to use it properly, teaching you the different moves you should be doing to play as you want. This goes hand-in-hand with the other elements of the interface that help to make things more user-friendly.

Screenshot for Virtua Tennis 2009 (Hands-On) on Wii

Online functionality matches that of the HD versions. It's tied to the world tour tightly this time; you can't play ranked matches with any of the pro players, only your created avatar from the single player career mode, whom you must build up from scratch. This means you're not going to get a flood of Nadals and Federers dominating and trouncing you online; the playing field has been evened. As you go through the career with whatever monstrosity you've fashioned in the user-friendly but robust avatar creator (which features hundreds of pieces of apparel), you'll earn medals, trophies and experience that unlocks new play styles for you to use, of which there are around forty. You can also earn money to spend on new clothing and items to deck out your avatar. As you rise through the ranks you'll be invited to practice matches with various opponents; accept and they'll be added to a friend's list, allowing you to train against them at any time or choose them as doubles partners.

As with Sumo's other tennis titles, there're a bunch of mini-games included in addition to the main content. They're all suitably deranged and feature you battling aliens and pirates with tennis balls, collecting shopping while dodging giant spheres and removing blocks from walls. There are twelve or so in total, most of which are online-enabled, and the highlight from what I saw is probably the one in which hungry animals beg for food at the far end of the court. The food they're after is thrown at you to thwack over to the correct beast. It starts semi-sanely - initially lions might want meat, but soon they start hankering for pizza and changing their minds haphazardly.

Screenshot for Virtua Tennis 2009 (Hands-On) on Wii

Final Thoughts

Virtua Tennis 2009 Wii appears to be fully inline with the other versions in terms of its feature set. It's easier to play with buttons on the HD systems but arguably not as fun; in a rare twist, the Wii version could well be the best of bunch, but I'll leave that for the tennis expert to judge. You're going to have to wait until June for that, though. The delay of the Wii edition is not for technical reasons but rather a practical one: it needs to be released alongside the Motion Plus.

Developer

Sumo Digital

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Like the sound of the career mode. Sounds very realistic having to play challenge events before you can move on to the main circuit. I think this will be the only area that Virtua tennis beats EAs game. EA have opted for a dumb "Beat a pro and take their strong attribute" which is so stupid but I will over look.

EA should look at this for the next rendition

Game does look painfully ugly I have to say. Even in the trailer. Like a dated PS2 game. Perhaps an extensive crowd has meant the players and court have to suffer. Wrong way to go if thats the case.

Good preview though. I like that you touched upon the internet murmurs. Makes sense that they want the game to utilise motion plus from the start.
Wish they released the last VT on wii so that they had something to work on graphics wise.

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

It all sounds very impressive and far better than SEGA Superstar Tennis, but I can't help but think EA's Grand Slam Tennis might just wipe the floor with it...We shall see! Good coverage Mike Smilie

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Sounds snazzy, and looks better in motion that's for sure - but still a little dated/rough. The setup does seem decent for the most part, and good that there's a whole load of options/control setups to use.

Still, that whole pointing thing sounds odd :/

Good preview Mike!

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

jb said:
Still, that whole pointing thing sounds odd :/

I was thinking that, actually. Sounds a bit cumbersome. I hope it won't need to be constantly 'reset' in other games as well...It'll be interesting to see how that is handled in the golf part of Wii Sports Resort to see if it's merely Sumo Digital having trouble getting used to the MotionPlus settings or something.

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I talked to them about this, as EA have done automatic caliberation for Grand Slam Tennis I believe. I'm not sure if it's so much a difficulty with Motion Plus on Sumo's part, more of a procedure and conscious decision to ensure that the Wii is reading it as accurately as it can for each point from what they told me; making sure that the remote is in a definite position (i.e. it has to be held the standard way so that you can point) at each stage means it's going to respond as the player expects it to rather than how the Wii has estimated movement when the starting points are inconsistent. Setting it to a neutral position before each point means it's going from the same place each time and improves its chances of performing as expected.

That said, EA seem to be confident they've managed it without this stage, so it'll be interesting to play both to see which comes out on top. Just another thing that will be part of the deciding battle, I imagine!

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

Hate to seem like a broken record but. . .

The screenshots seem like the game was planned for a last gen GC game =(

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

Aki-T spilt the water.

The Screen shots look like they rushed it and they don't have any professinal photos of the game like Rafeal Nadal vs. Roger Federer With their eyes Slit like
.. <---Eyes
-- <---Blade line
.. <---Eyes
You know like a duel photo :/

( Edited 30.10.2017 06:45 by Guest )

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John:
I..I can't watch porn. My Mommy finds out
:}

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