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North America

WTA Tour Tennis

by Jonathan Metts - July 5, 2002, 10:15 pm EDT

Jonny doesn't know much about either tennis or women, but he'll do his best to give honest impressions of this women's tennis game for GBA.

First, let's just establish that I'm no tennis fan. I'm possibly the worst tennis player who ever lived, and I could care less about the sport's professional side or who's dating Andre Agassi. However, I have played Mario Tennis on N64 rather extensively, because it is "the bomb", so don't consider me totally unqualified to give impressions of WTA Tour Tennis.

In case you're as clueless as me, WTA is apparently the Women's Tennis Association...meaning that every player in this GBA game from Konami is a woman. Fortunately, tennis happens to be like the only co-ed sport in the world whose women players might actually be more popular than the men. Even a disdainer of sports like me can recognize names like Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, and Jennifer Capriati. Too bad my favorite "tennis star", Anna Kournikova, didn't make the roster. I'm guessing her agent wanted too much money for the rights. 'Tis a shame, I tell ye!

WTA Tour Tennis uses a cute anime character style for the players, but otherwise the game is a pretty realistic representation of the sport. You're not going to get explosions of light or laser eyes for making a great serve; apparently these lovable Mario Tennis staples are not a feature of the real game, which makes me wonder how anyone can watch this stuff on TV... Anyway, the graphics get the job done but certainly aren't astounding by GBA standards. The animation is smooth and fast, which is probably the most important thing in a sports game. Colors seem a tad washed out and occasionally it's hard to judge the ball's location and/or speed; I can see the latter becoming a significant problem unless it takes care of itself as I become more accustomed to the game. So far the sound is noticeable but not overbearing. Announcer annoying, music of the pleasant Japanese type often found in such sports titles.

Arguably the most impressive and endearing aspect of Camelot's Mario Tennis is the intuitive yet versatile control scheme, which allows for several shot types with only two buttons. WTA Tour Tennis is not quite up to snuff in this department. The development team tried to make the game easy to pick up and play by shoving multiple shot types into just one button, B, and supposedly the game will choose the proper shot based on context. I am finding this not to be the case. Often pressing B will make the ball just barely float over the net, when I was hoping for a powerful shot out to the back corner of the court. Sometimes a hit at the net will result in a simple volley when I really wanted to smash that sucka.

There are three selectable shots: you can lob with A, and there are two variation shots done by holding either L or R while you press B. The lob works well enough, although I rarely use that particular shot, but the trigger-based shots are just a bad idea. In the middle of a long, heated volley, moving your index finger up to activate one of these hits takes too long and just isn't very intuitive. On top of all that, the game's directional control isn't very forgiving; it's way too easy to hit a ball out of bounds on the sides. I expect a tennis game to guide my shots a little so that most of them stay in the legal playing area...these ladies are pros, right?

Aside from the self-explanatory Exhibition and Tour modes, WTA includes four-player multiplayer, which is a blast with any tennis game, except every player needs his or her own cartridge. I can't see any reason why this relatively simple game couldn't use mult-boot; Konami is really limiting the multiplayer's practicality by requiring extra copies of the game.

Despite my various control gripes, WTA Tour Tennis is initially quite fun and even a little addictive. Right now there aren't many choices for tennis on GBA, and this one seems to be at least decent. Stay tuned for a full review soon.

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Genre Sports
Developer Konami
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: WTA Tour Tennis
Release May 31, 2002
jpn: WTA Tour Tennis Pocket
Release Feb 14, 2002

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