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Virtua Tennis

ìItís Virtua Tennis. How badly can they screw up Virtua Tennis

Oh, the dreaded last words of a person buying an N-Gage game.

What can I say, Iím a bargain hunter. When I see a game for dirt cheap, any game, Iíll usually at least look at it, just because the price is so low. Sometimes, it pays off, and I get great games for really cheap, like the time I got Baldurís Gate II for a dollar. Sometimes it doesnít, like that time I got Virtua Tennis for the N-Gage.

Thatís this time.

As the proud owner of both the Dreamcast and the PC versions of Virtua Tennis, I was quite happy to see that the N-Gage version dropped down to a low price. Yes, I do in fact own an N-Gage. But, thatís not the point of this one.

Virtua Tennis is a delightful little game. Well, is a delightful little game on every system other than the N-Gage. The game quite obviously sets you into the role of a Tennis superstar, and has you competing through the ranks to become number one in the world through a series of matches. Throughout this quest, youíll battle fierce competitors that would make a lesser man cry from tennis elbow. Do you have what it takes to be the number one competitor in the world? If you do, find this game in your local arcade, because thatís where itís best.

This is one of the first N-Gage games that Iíve found thatís actually comfortable to play. Virtua Tennis doesnít use all twenty six buttons on the N-Gage to play; you only need to use the D-Pad and the 5 and 7 keys. This is the best feature of this title. Playing any other game requires you to push too many buttons at once, and my feeble American brain simply canít take the strain. Virtua Tennis is much nicer in this regard.

It just screws up everywhere else.

Virtua Tennis was a wonderful game because of its speed and feel. Unfortunately, all of that is lost in the transition. Every player moves too slowly, and getting up from dives takes forever. Whatís great though is that this has made the game much, much easier. All you have to do is simply make the computer controlled opponent dive and then hit the ball to their opposite side. Theyíll never get up fast enough to hit it.

It doesnít feel exciting either. It just kind of sits there. Volleys arenít exciting because they arenít nearly as frantic as theyíve been in previous versions. This is caused by the fact that the ball moves like itís stuck in bullet time. Youíll just sit there watching it and on almost every return youíll have more than enough time to adjust your position and plan where youíll hit it.

Even the loading times are slow. I donít remember any of the other games taking this long to load. Thereís really no visible excuse for it either. The ball physics donít seem all that special and the graphics and sound arenít braggable either. The game fits well into the N-Gage screen, but the colors seem subdued and uninspired. Player animations are stiff and repetitive, while the crap-rock soundtrack overpowers familiar menu sounds.

The N-Gage version of Virtua Tennis has turned a two minute game of tennis is turned into a six minute battle with boredom. This game does few things right, but I did play through it a few times over the course of the last couple of days, and it is arguably the best of all the three N-Gage games that I own. If you have an N-Gage, this is the best tennis game available for it, but in the end, it just doesnít live up to the Virtua Tennis legacy.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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