Not all guys are massively into violent games of fighting, blood sport, and fighting to the death. Some men out there prefer to get their kicks from sports, and there’s no gaming company that does the niche sports genre better than SEGA. Their Virtua series of games have tackled many sports over the years, but one of the best Virtua titles of modern times is for the mobile platform, and it goes by the name of Virtua Tennis Challenge. For tennis fans, this one’s a no-brainer: it’s the closest you’ll get to a tennis sim on mobile while still having the accessibility of an arcade-level tennis game. Its controls are supreme and allow you to get quite technical yet allow for some less-than realistic moves, so is there a catch? The review below shall explain.
Designed Around Mobile
Virtua Tennis Challenge isn’t merely a like-for-like port of the console version of Virtua Tennis – it’s a reworking of the idea around the interface of the modern-day mobile device. The primary mode of interaction with the tennis on the screen is through the touch-screen interface. This is the most intuitive control option available, and requires a variety of swipes on the screen, only performed slightly differently and at certain times to get the desired results.
There are a few different types of shots on offer here. To start the game off, if you’re serving, then you swipe your finger to the area from which you wish to serve, releasing to throw the ball in the air, and then swiping yet again to smash the ball in the desired direction. Returning a shot/serve is also as easy as swiping to the part of the screen you want your player to run to. If you fancy slicing the ball, then a backwards swipe of the hand will allow this. The techniques are there for playing with in Virtua Tennis Challenge’s sublimely intuitive interface.
However, there are also on-screen (D-Pad/Joystick and buttons) options included by SEGA as well, you know, if you really don’t like the modern-day touchscreen controls. Some people like it old-school after all, so SEGA have been kind enough to cater for all input preferences.
Now we come to the age-old problem of content in a sports game that doesn’t seem to have obtained the official licenses from the official bodies of tennis like ATP World Tour and the like. This results in a body of content not dissimilar to that of Pro Evolution Soccer, whereby you’re able to play as and against a variety of names that kind of sound like the real-life professional players, but aren’t quite the same (Bojan Jovanovic, is just one example).
The lack of licenses doesn’t restrict the game from giving you a few modes to enjoy its action in, though. Exhibition is the closest to quick-play you’ll find, with its roster of opponents that increase in difficulty with each one you beat. You’ll experience a variety of the different court types offered by the game here, such as clay and grass pitches. You’ll get to play in various places too, such as Spain and Wimbledon. SPT World Tour is a more engrossing mode, however effectively serving as the game’s single-player campaign mode where your aim is to become the best tennis player in the world.
There’s even multiplayer where you can pit your skills against other players via WiFi, or even link up with Bluetooth locally and play friends that are in the room with you.
Having trawled the depths of the internet for the best tennis games on sites ranging from generic flash game portals such as Y8 to Tennis Game specialist websites like http://www.freetennis.org/, you’ll likely to come to the conclusion that most would arrive at: that Virtua Tennis Challenge is one of the most instantly-gratifying tennis games out there at the moment. Flash games don’t quite cut it, and rival tennis games simply don’t have the slick control interface of Virtua Tennis Challenge. Its graphics are impressively polished too, as one would expect from any modern-day SEGA title.
The only things that will put players off are the lack of variety in gameplay modes and the lack of official licenses and therefore the big names in tennis like Murray, Nadal, and Jokovic. It’s not a game-ruining omission however, since Virtua Tennis Challenge manages to live up to SEGA’s stellar reputation of implementing top-quality arcade-sports titles for sporting fans around the world.