- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

These new Wii titles will deliver star-studded events to an entertainment room.

Sega Superstars Tennis from Sega, rated E10+ for players 10 and older, $39.99. A cavalcade of video-game legends take to the court in a new sports challenge loaded with action and nostalgia. Characters from Sega franchises including Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Channel 5, Super Monkey Ball and Jet Set Radio can be selected as opponents on 10 courts culled from their colorful landscapes.

I think most would agree that tennis is one of those games made for the Wii. Sega does not disappoint with a fairly interactive set of singles, doubles and tournament matches that harness the magic of the wireless, motion-sensing Wiimote. For those who prefer a more traditional play scheme, the game also can be configured to use a standard set of controls rather than actually swinging the Wiimote like a racquet.

An on-court enhancement to traditional tennis finds characters powered up when they perform well, enabling them to hit some pretty strange returns. One of the best comes from the stalwart of the Golden Axe title, Gilius Thunderhead, whose ball is accompanied by lightning strikes as it randomly bounces on the court.

An extra to standard matches is the abundance of minigames. Most peculiar in the 80 or so challenges is the appearance of zombies in some of the events, not usually a group that comes to mind when talking about tennis.

The mutated creatures from Sega’s House of the Dead populate a decrepit court behind Curien Mansion and are ready to attack. Players find themselves in a life-and-bite-to-the-death struggle against the undead. The player must aim shots to take down some of the creatures, who may throw racquets at them like axes.

My only beef with the minigames is that the Wiimote must be used as a standard controller rather than a racquet.

Another disappointment is that Sega has not included a multiplayer function for Wii online users. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game both have that option.

Some also may find the Wiimote reaction times a bit lacking in especially grueling and wild matches. For the average younger player and parent, however, the hands-on competition is guaranteed to get them off the couch and excited to move. In fact, my sore shoulder and knees are more than enough proof that Sega Superstar Tennis can be a physically exhausting experience.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl from Nintendo, rated T for teen, $39.99. Nintendo’s latest version of “Battle of the Network Stars” taps into fans’ dreams through the interaction of a rich universe of characters.

So for those wondering what it would be like for Luigi the plumber to beat the tar out of Donkey Kong or for Princess Peach to punch a giant Pikachu or even Sonic the Hedgehog to smack Snake, this ludicrously robust and frenetic fighting game for up to four players reveals the answers.

Besides matches in interactive environments, the ability to design custom stages and a welcome online multiplayer universe that seamlessly rocks Nintendo’s wireless network, there is a new solo adventure called Subspace Emissary to consume plenty of time. The side-scrolling test of strategy and strength pits players against armies of extraterrestrial minions and bosses with success leading to unlocking more characters.

Unfortunately, this type of all-out brawl does nothing to propel the best parts of the Wii. The Wiimote isn’t used as boxing gloves here but simply as a controller. Veterans might want to pull out their old Game Cube controller to take the best command of the action.

However, the game’s nostalgia-trip qualities as well as the care taken to deliver a well-rounded, great-looking, replayable game make it an irresistible package.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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