I love tennis games, I really do. In a gaming-world full of mindless first-person shooter games, I absolutely love playing a sport that isn't very commonly churned out in videogame form. Tennis is one of those few sports that doesn't have six variations released every year (see: NBA). You've got Top Spin for the simulation crowd, Virtua Tennis for the everyday crowd, and Mario Tennis for the Nintendo crowd. There was Sony's Hot Shot's Tennis, but that effort was poor. So how blending that everyday crowd who love Virtua Tennis, with the Nintendo crowd who love the simplicity and nature of Mario Tennis? Say hello to Sega Superstars Tennis.
Superstars Tennis is unlike any tennis game Sega has ever done before. It revolves completely around Sega's characters and mascots. Which means that the game will feature Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik/Eggman (Sonic games), Amy Rose (Sonic games), AiAi (Monkey Ball), Ulala (Space Channel 5), and Amigo (Samba De Amigo). There'll be 15 characters in total, and each tennis court will be themed based on the respective players game. For instance, Sonic's court will be set in the ever-classic Green Hill Zone. Meanwhile Amigo's will be set to Carnival Park, with cacti wearing sombreros and shaking maracas, and a host of characters in the background playing Samba music.
"Sega Superstars Tennis delivers a fun and fresh new take on tennis," said Rick Naylor, Director of Marketing for SEGA of America. "From its pick-up-and-play arcade action to its exciting roster of fan-favorite characters and settings, Sega Superstars Tennis has something for everyone."
There are still a number of characters left to reveal, but Sega is already claiming that they'll be leaving us surprised when we find out the entire character list. I can predict Tails and Knuckles as playable characters (and I hope I'm right), and everything else past that will likely be a mixture of Sega's past and present. The question is which franchises will we see characters from? Akira from Virtua Fighter? Nights should be a gimme. Alex Kidd is another possibility, as are Ristar, Shinobi, Toe Jam, Earl and Vectorman. I can't really think of any others that could possibly fit the bill, but I have a feeling that I've probably landed at least half of those guesses. We shall find out soon enough.
Remember, because SST is developed by Sumo Digital, it is also running on the same engine that powered Virtua Tennis. That means you can expect the same caliber of gameplay and tightness you've come to love out of Virtua Tennis in Sega Superstars Tennis. A full fledged tournament mode, in addition to a standard exhibition mode, will be just a few of the modes available in the final game. Sega has also confirmed online gameplay for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, but no word on whether or not it'll be one-on-one, or two-on-two.
As you can see just by looking at the screenshots, a vibrant color palette will act as one of the visual signature appeals for the game. Sega Superstars Tennis will feature a host of beautifully drawn stages, in addition to detailed characters looking better than they ever have in the past.
Sega Superstars Tennis will launch in March of 2008. Keep your eyes glued for it, because this one is bound to bring a considerable amount of fun.