Question: What's better than Virtua Tennis 3? Answer: Virtua Tennis 4, obviously. Unfortunately, that hasn't been announced yet, so it's not the answer we're looking for. What else is better than Virtua Tennis 3? Sega Superstars Tennis - which replaces Tim Henman's potato-faced grin with Ulala licking her lips at you before hitting the ball in a five-shaped star (Space Channel 5, see?) while glittery pink stars explode and aliens dance everywhere. This is tennis gone mad.
The concept is Sega-like in its simplicity. Take a smattering of characters from Sega's rich back catalogue, dump them in the Virtua Tennis 3 world, change the clay courts for Outrun's beaches and the grass of Green Hill Zone, add over-the-top special moves than set fire to the whole lot, stand back and put your fingers in your ears lest the fizzy explosions deafen you. This is a loud, riotous, noisy and deliriously camp take on tennis that's designed to hit your soft spot for Sega. Going by what we've seen, it'll be a direct bullseye.
Different, but similar
Given that it's essentially a Virtua Tennis remix, the game feels almost exactly the same. You have soft shots, hard shots, lobs and drop shots and... that's it. The only other move comes in the form of a special move. A star under your player slowly lights up as rallies progress and you hit winners. When it's maxed out, you can unleash a special shot that has all sorts of effects from zig-zagging across the court (Gum), hitting players instantaneously back (Sonic), spinning upwards in a tornado before shooting across the court (Tails), firing bombs along with the ball (Egg-Man) and so on.
Inspired in VT3, the mini games hit dizzying new heights here as they all pay tribute to Sega games. There's a House Of The Dead court with shuffling zombies who need to be knocked down, a carbon copy of Virtua Tennis' opening level where you fire tennis balls instead of bullets, and a wicked ChuChu Rocket tribute.
This packs the arcade simplicity of Virtua Tennis combined with Sega fan service. It might not please Henman fans but Sega fans should be hugely excited.