by William Thompson
reviewed on WII
Time for your headband
It seems that it isn’t just retro gaming that’s in fashion at present. Retro sports stars seem to be having a great time of things recently too. NBA 2K11 featured His Airness, Michael Jordan as its selling point, NBA Jam had the big heads of the 1990’s star players, and so now 2K sports has brought back some former world number ones for their latest edition in the Top Spin series. Tennis legends such as Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and even Andre Agassi come together with some of the stars of today – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams – and some promising future stars such as Bernard Tomic in Top Spin 4.
The first new feature that Top Spin 4 brings to the table is the use of the Wiimote and Nunchuck combination to play. Those familiar with tennis in WiiSports or Virtua Tennis may find this a bit strange, but it works quite well. For the most part, the Wiimote controls the swing of the racquet much the same as the previously mentioned titles, whilst the thumbstick on the Nunchuck controls the player’s movement and hit direction.
Serving in tennis is normally one of the more difficult things to master. Top Spin 4 has come up with a simple solution by providing two variations. There is a simple mode which simply uses the A button to serve and the thumbstick controller on the Nunchuck to aim. It works really well, and although you can still serve faults if you aim too wide, it is a great fallback option. The advanced mode requires gamers to swing the Wiimote. Timing is everything. Get it wrong and faults will be frequent, but get it right and it can be a lethal weapon in your tennis armoury. As with most things, practice makes perfect when it comes to serving.
Of course, you aren’t always going to score an ace on your serve, so you will have to run around the court and return balls to your opposition. As mentioned briefly earlier, controlling the player’s movements is just a matter of moving the thumbstick in whichever direction required. I found this works extremely well. Once you get the ball, there are a number of different shots you can play, such as drop shots and lobs simply by holding the B or A buttons prior to swinging, or slices or flat shots by just swinging the Wiimote as if it were a tennis racquet. Upon swinging, the thumbstick is used to direct the ball. Unfortunately, the swinging controls are somewhat unresponsive. This leads to frustration with some swings seemingly not registering. I also found that I was stuck to performing less attacking shots due to it being difficult to control the power shots.
Naturally, all these skills can be practised in the tutorial. The tutorial does quite a good job of showing gamers each of the required skills. Everything from how to move around the court to how to perform a backhand slice is well described and you get Rafa himself to help you out in a visual sense.
A decent range of quality players to choose from. The use of the Nunchuck works well.
At times the controls are unresponsive. Some players hardly resemble their likenesses.