It is that time of the year when the minds of millions turn towards the lawns of England those noble feet mowing them down in pursuit of yellow spherical objects. Yes, we are talking about the sport of tennis, which, for all its massive following, has somehow never really generated the kind of sensational mobile game catalogue that the likes of golf, basketball and football have.
That said, the one really great it HAS inspired is perhaps one of the best sports game we have ever played on a mobile device – Sega’s Virtua Tennis Challenge. The game is available in both free and paid versions, but if you plan to really experience it at its best, we would really recommend going for the paid version. Be ready for a 300 MB-plus download, but rest assured, it will be well worth it.
For, while Virtua Tennis Challenge does come with some decent graphics (not in the FIFA class, but decent and hey, this game has been around for a while), it is the gameplay that makes this digital avatar of tennis worth playing. Mind you, that previous statement applies only if you opt to go for the Swipe control system, and eschew the onscreen direction and shot keys – we still are dazed by the whole array of options in Arcade mode. But the Swipe mode, ah, that is another mode. You move a player by tapping the screen where you want him to go, tap to start a serve and wait for a power meter to fill up and then swipe in the direction you want to send the ball, swipe upwards for a normal topspin shot with the direction of your swipe determining the direction of the ball, swipe downwards for a swipe, make an inverted U for a drop shot, and a proper U for a lob. Long swipes result in deep shots, shorter ones in less deep ones, and if you are near the net, you automatically volley in the direction of the swipe.. Now, THAT is how a game should be played on a touchscreen, with no buttons or stroke combinations.
And it all fits together so brilliantly – we would recommend playing it on a tablet for best results.You can opt for best of three or best of five set matches, and the game comes with a decent tie-breaker option. You can also twiddle camera angles. As you move your career along, you win prize money, get endorsement offers and keep moving up the rankings. There are three difficulty levels so there is plenty of replay value here as well.
No, it is not perfect. You cannot play as a lady, and there are no official players or tournaments. Player customisation options are also limited and if you are the type that likes messing around with noses, hairs, sweatbands and the like, this is not really the game for you. But on the flip side, the game does play so brilliantly in swipe mode that we have no hesitation in branding it one of the best sports oriented games we have played on any platform. And hey, while the player options are limited, there is nothing stopping you from renaming your player. So you actually could have Federer or Nadal (you can only select one player at a time, alas) still playing in a tournament.
Now,that surely counts for something. Our recommendation: download. Get addicted.