Wii

North America

Virtua Tennis 2009

by Lukasz Balicki - August 1, 2009, 9:55 pm PDT
Total comments: 8

8

Sega serves up a solid tennis game with a couple of faults.

Virtua Tennis 2009 is the first Wii title in the series, and also one of the first Wii MotionPlus-enabled games for the console. The latest game in the series stays faithful to the series' roots while enhancing the experience with Nintendo's newest peripheral. The game provides one of the deepest tennis experiences found on the Wii.

The main mode in the game is Career mode. It starts with you creating a tennis player and advancing him or her through the ranks from 100th to 1st place in the world by competing in tournaments and doing various activities to build up stats and abilities. Career mode plays out on a week-by-week basis, with each activity requiring one week and consuming part of your stamina (which affects your performance in a match or activity). To restore some of your stamina, you simply take a week off and rest at home. Tracking activities on the calendar is crucial, since specific tournaments and special events are held on different weeks. Completing these activities are the key to advancing in the ranks and preparing your custom character for online play.

The game's other modes are typical for a sports game, such as Exhibition, Tournament, and Arcade. The one that stands out the most is Games Mode. Rather than being a standard tennis game with some mundane rule variations, the Games Mode is a series of mini-games that range from tennis versions of curling and billiards, to weird games such as feeding animals, collecting fruit, and avoiding an avalanche of gigantic tennis balls.

Like Grand Slam Tennis, one of Virtua Tennis's main selling points is its Wii MotionPlus controls. You hold the controller like a tennis racket and swing like you would in real life, performing forehands and backhands naturally. The controls are accurate and fluid, and swings are accurately represented in the game. Calibration of the Wii MotionPlus peripheral is done before every serve; you simply point to an icon with your player number until you see a checkmark.

It can take a couple of matches to get accustomed to the controls, but the learning curve isn't very steep. If you are having issues, or need help learning the basics of the game, VT Coach explains specific techniques and allows you to practice them. The game and manual thoroughly describe the controls and how to hold and swing the controller properly.

Without Wii MotionPlus, Virtua Tennis 2009 is an entirely different experience that is predominantly based on timing and a visual assist meter. When the tennis ball is near your character (whether serving or returning), a meter appears above. When you swing, your character performs a forehand or backhand swing, depending on where the indicator is on the meter. These controls feel clunky without Wii MotionPlus; it's highly recommended that you purchase the peripheral in order to get the most enjoyment out of the game.

Online mode is actually split into separate modes. If accessed through Career mode, your custom-made character participates in seasonal online tournaments or a ranked mode against other players. When accessed through the main menu, you can play with your friends, once you exchange Friend Codes. Playing online yields mixed results. In some games, there is a low amount of latency, but some matches suffer from a significant amount of latency that adversely affects gameplay. You won’t know when a player has served the ball or returned a rally until it's too late.

Local multiplayer does not feature a split-screen mode. Instead, you play from a static, full-court camera perspective. Unfortunately, this causes one player (or team) to manage with the backcourt camera. All players do not require Wii MotionPlus; however players without the peripheral will be at a severe disadvantage if they play against players who do have it.

Graphically, Virtua Tennis 2009 retains a realistic style like all the games in the Virtua Tennis series. The most noticeable visual issue is the frame rate. Occasionally, you will see a significant difference in the frame rate during various points of the game, whether the camera pans out to the audience before the tennis match or during a match. In singles matches, there are times at which the frame rate differences are distracting; however, in doubles matches, the frame rate drops are extremely noticeable and a lot worse.

Overall, Virtua Tennis 2009 is a really good tennis game, primarily due to its variety of satisfying game modes. Unfortunately, the game is weighed down by several glaring flaws. The accuracy of the Wii MotionPlus control might be a little disappointing, but on the other hand, it does provide a more fluid and accurate experience that is ultimately more enjoyable than the Wii Remote alone. Despite a great deal of potential, Virtua Tennis 2009 lacks the requisite polish to be considered the definitive Wii tennis title.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 6 8 8 9 8
Graphics
6

The graphics are solid but not amazing. The tennis players are animated well, and the character models that represent real-life tennis players look good, but the custom-made tennis players are ugly. The frame rate issues are distracting at times and affect gameplay when playing doubles.

Sound
6

While not memorable, the soundtrack does provide decent background music during tennis matches.

Control
8

The Wii MotionPlus controls are reasonably accurate and make the game more enjoyable to play. Without Wii MotionPlus, the game is decent, but not as intuitive. It's also recommended to play with the Nunchuk, since the A.I. can do some stupid things when chasing after the ball.

Gameplay
8

All of the gameplay modes are deep and enjoyable. Career mode has a nice amount of variety and stat building. The biggest issue with local multiplayer is the lack of split-screen.

Lastability
9

This game will definitely last a long time, with many deep modes to choose from. Career mode is lengthy, as it takes a while to climb from 100th place to first place. There are also many local multiplayer modes and online modes.

Final
8

Virtua Tennis 2009 is a great tennis game with many deep and satisfying modes. However, its lack of polish and omission of split-screen for local multiplayer causes it to fall short of being the definitive Wii tennis game.

Summary

Pros
  • Deep Career mode
  • Good MotionPlus controls
  • Great mini-games
Cons
  • Frame rate issues, especially during doubles matches
  • Inconsistent online experience due to latency
  • No split-screen in local multiplayer
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

I wish I reviewed this instead of Grand Suck Tennis.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 03, 2009

I love the fact that many websites have issues with defining the true winner between VT 09 and Grand Slam Tennis. I hope VT 2010 for Wii will have the framerate issues fixed and include split-screen in local multiplayer. 

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterAugust 03, 2009

Yeah, Gametrailers for example said that VT 09 had tacked on MotionPlus controls and gave GST credit for being the better game on Wii.

After the dust settled, my prediction was completely off. I thought GST was going to be the bee's knees and VT09 was gonna suck. After reading up on VT09 and reading Luke's review, I'm set in the fact I shouldn't have bet money on my prediction.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 03, 2009

Hehe, the big issue was the technical stuff but the deep modes just drew me into the game. The only reason why the game isn't in my Wii now is because of Wii Sports Resort.

GKAugust 03, 2009

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Hehe, the big issue was the technical stuff but the deep modes just drew me into the game. The only reason why the game isn't in my Wii now is because of Wii Sports Resort.

Ditto. Though I still want to try Grand Slam Tennis since that one has John McEnroe. I read that Boris Becker is unlockable in VT, but where's Ivan Lendl?

BwrJim!August 03, 2009

Was it grand slam tennis or VT where the developer went on record saying that the the M+ was too sensitive and they had to tone it down?  Overall, that could also impact how the game feels and plays.  Does the one with the toned down sesetivity control better or worse then the rival company?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 03, 2009

Quote from: BwrJim!

Was it grand slam tennis or VT where the developer went on record saying that the the M+ was too sensitive and they had to tone it down?  Overall, that could also impact how the game feels and plays.  Does the one with the toned down sesetivity control better or worse then the rival company?

That was the producer of Grand Slam Tennis. I have a feeling that each company tones down the sensitivity in different ways.

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Virtua Tennis 2009 Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer
OnlineYes

Worldwide Releases

na: Virtua Tennis 2009
Release Jun 02, 2009
PublisherSega
RatingEveryone
eu: Virtua Tennis 2009
Release Jun 2009
PublisherSega
Rating3+
aus: Virtua Tennis 2009
Release Jun 18, 2009
PublisherSega
RatingGeneral
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