I love tennis games. One of my favorite games on the Sega Dreamcast console was their Virtua Tennis title. It was a completely wonderful game, regardless of genre. Wii Sports Tennis is less serious, as it’s more of an excuse to flail around in a silly manner, and we’ve already mentioned Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii. When I saw that Top Spin 3 was an available demo, I downloaded it and decided to give it a shot.
The first thing I noticed when looking at the menu was the “Top Spin School” selection, which provides a full training program for learning and improving your skills. The Top Spin School provides detailed information about your shots, which allows you to see real data that can be compared to remembered actions. The detailed statistics include power, shot type, angle, timing, and more. This is very handy, because the timing and swing controls are far different than what I expected and am used to. Rather than simple pushing a button at the right time, all swings must be “charged”, by holding the swing style you wish before hand, and releasing it when you want to swing. In previous games that I have played, the power is generally determined by manipulating the joystick when swinging. Given the choice, I much prefer a single tap to swing to the “press-hold-release” method in Top Spin 3, but I can understand and appreciate that many players may find this to be a very welcome change, as it does provide a much more precise method of controlling your shot.
Service seems somewhat standard. Press to toss, joystick to aim, press again to serve on the fall. The joystick is very responsive during service, providing a level of control that I haven’t seen before in the tennis games that I have played. While this is a great benefit for skilled players, it can be very difficult for amateurs to attempt, as it can easily result in shots going out of bounds.
After the training, I jumped into an exhibition match. Without the training, I don’t think I would have done quite as well as I did. The game mechanics are very different from those of the tennis games I have played in the past. The motions are very fluid, the sounds are crisp, and the gameplay is excellent. The demo, unfortunately, only provides a 7-point Tie-Breaker set, so I was unable to play through an entire match. What I did play, however, was very entertaining.
I wonder how Virtua Tennis 2009 stacks up against Top Spin 3…
-Because I said so