After last week’s long-awaited release of Sonic 4: Episode 2, SEGA surprised gamers by releasing Virtua Tennis Challenge for iOS and Android this week. Arguably the premiere tennis franchise for consoles, Virtua Tennis Challenge does a great job translating to the small screen, packing tons of content into its first appearance on smartphones.
Translating a tennis game to touch screen is no menial task; the precise nature of the game makes it inherently difficult to create a realistic experience. By keeping the game mechanics fairly simple and offering a number of unique control modes, it gives players some freedom in developing their styles and finding a scheme that works best for them.
The meat of the game’s content comes from the SPT World Tour mode, which spans 18 stadiums, multiple tournaments, and dozens of challenging opponents to conquer on the way to the top of the world rankings.
Players can upgrade their skills and customize their playing strengths, which gives every new run through career mode a unique feel. There’s also exhibition and quick match modes, plus daily challenges for players to conquer as they master the different court styles in Virtua Tennis.
What makes Virtua Tennis so much fun is the accessible, challenging gameplay awaiting in each match. Playing to your strengths fill up a power shot meter, which allows players to take ultra-powerful shots to try and dominate opponents at key points in the match. There’s a bit of a learning curve to the serving system, and it will take a few double faults until one can really get a feel for placing serves accurately.
Visually, Virtua Tennis won’t blow anyone away, but the court designs look nice, and the addition of high-res replays from multiple vantage points provide some cool moments in between plays after big shots. There are moments of occasional lag even on the newest generation of iOS devices, but nothing that the average gamer is going to get frustrated with during a match.
Sports games are still trying to find success in the App Store, and the presence of Virtua Tennis on the platform is a solid sign that big companies are starting to take it more seriously. Either way, it’s a great addition to any sports fan device, a great tennis game that translates well to iOS, with only the smallest of hiccups.