This month saw the European release of Sony's enchantingly sexy PSP, and with it the newest instalment in Sega's acclaimed Virtua Tennis series. With IGN now in the clutches of Rupert Murdoch there's never been a better time for naive young upstarts like us to try and muscle in on their territory. Now, watch in amazement as we redefine the meaning of journalism whilst simultaneously informing the heck out of your grotty little brain.
Weebl - Butter-fingered drunkard.
Weebl: Ok, we're here today to review the game Virtua Tennis for PSP. Skoo has the game but no PSP. I have the game and a PSP, but I dropped mine and the screen is dead. Peabo has a PSP but no Virtua Tennis. Splush has Virtua Tennis, but it's for Dreamcast.
Peabo: I have it for the dreamcast, but it won't fit in the PSP
Splush: My dreamcast is all dusty.
Weebl: I think this should cover every possible outcome for gaming, and should set the traditional gaming press quaking in their boots. Let's give our first impression of the game, Skoo?
Skoo: The packaging is typical for a tennis game, utilising both the front *and* back of the case for displaying tennis themed pictures. Smart move. A point of interest, this game was developed by SUMO DIGITAL. Not to be confused with SUMO DOJO.
Weebl: That is interesting, I've also noticed that from the case and found it quite a talking point
Skoo: Both sides! I couldn't believe it!
Weebl: That's so hot. Well, I've put the UMD in my PSP now.
Skoo: I'm holding my UMD in my hand. It handles well.
Weebl: I'll be honest with you, I'm not seeing much.
Splush: I've turned my Dreamcast on. The Dreamcast version of the game has the kind of constipated American voiceover only found in Japanese games, and a similarly cheesy soundtrack with lots of squealing guitars. Does the PSP version live up to that legacy?
Weebl: I don't know
Skoo: [holds UMD to his ear] It sounds realistic, as if I truly did have a UMD held to my ear.
Peabo: From the look of the front cover of the dreamcast version, it seems that the objective of this game is to violently insert the tennis racket into your thigh before the time limit runs out.
Weebl: It would seem that my PSP is more broken than last time, I'm getting no sound at all now. Ooh, something's made a noise! It's rather like a pig blowing its nose, which is odd for a tennis game.
Skoo: I can only imagine what that must be like.
Splush: I just have to say now that the main thing that makes Virtua Tennis (as opposed to Virtua Tennis 2 or the PSP version) the best tennis game ever is the lack of female players, because I believe a woman's place is in the voting booth.
Weebl: Are you confusing voting with glory holes again?
Peabo: But it says on the front of the box that's it's rated 'E' for everyone.
Weebl: How are you getting this information Peabo? Are you simply looking at a photo?
Peabo: Yes, that's all the experience I have with this game at the moment.
Weebl: Is it an enjoyable experience?
Peabo: The photo has a man trying to wear the tennis racket as a hat, it's perplexing.
Splush: the dreamcast version is "OK 3+" according to the ELSPA, who don't seem to rate games any more.
Skoo: The PSP version is 3+, which is lucky as I fall into that category.
Splush: I think the 3+ demographic is considered a marketing "sweet spot" by most publishers.
Weebl: I've just heard a rather cheesy male voice announcing "Virtua Tennis World Tour!", I find this pleasing
Skoo: Was it American?
Weebl: It is, I believe its the same American voice as in the original dreamcast version
Splush: Then all is well.
Skoo - Anger, confusion, cigar.
Peabo: I'd pay to see four 3 year olds playing wireless virtua tennis on the PSP
Weebl: Now some hard rocking soundtrack has begun.
Splush: The music on mine has taken a turn for the worse with tinkly organs interspersed between guitar sections, like it's trying to give me a break from having my face rocked clean off.
Skoo: Mine still sounds like a UMD sat in the palm of a hand, which is pretty uneventful, but startlingly accurate.
Peabo: This game is also awesome because it's made by Sega.
[everyone nods in agreement]
Weebl: Well I am playing a chap called Ferrero I think, and it seems to be my serve.
Skoo: Good luck.
Weebl: Hmm, two volleys. At least that's how it sounded. I now consider myself to be like Rutger Hauer in that film where he plays a blind swordsman only instead of a sword I wield damaged consoles. Also I'm not blind.
Splush: I'm on the character select screen and it describes Tim Henman as a "volley master".
Skoo: Wait, Splush, you are telling me Henman is in your copy too?
Splush: Sure is! Henmania!
Skoo: I've been reading the box, because that is all I have (thank you Amazon, you little cockteasers). Some insane person included Tim Henman in "World's top tennis stars".
Weebl: Do you think Ferrero is actually a comedy chocolate character?
Weebl: Ah, my first game is over.
Skoo: Did you win?
Weebl: I will give you a guess
Skoo: Weebl, you are truly like Zatoichi.
Weebl: In that neither of us play tennis well?
Skoo: Exactly like that.
Weebl: I think my losing the game has shown how realistic virtua tennis is.
Splush: I've picked Thomas Johansson because he's a "fast runner" and the only really important thing in this game is being able to run across to the other side of the court very fast.
Peabo: How do you win at tennis?
Weebl: Perhaps Splush can inform us?
Splush: It's basically a competition of gentlemanly behaviour: trying to outclass each other by being sporting, never letting your whites get grass stains on them, and never ever breaking a sweat.
Weebl: Why do Americans always seem to win then? They are, on the whole, rather uncouth.
Splush: Cutting-edge stain-resistant fabric technology.
Skoo: I flicked through the manual while you did that, Weebl. Apparently there are mini games, which are like breakout, only with a tennis ball.
Weebl: That sounds fun.
Peabo - Larger than a CD
Splush: I will now try a game without looking at my TV to simulate Weebl's experience.
Skoo: I am closing my eyes now and imagining what it must be like to play.
Splush: I didn't win a single point, but I did have some good rallies going.
Peabo: Why are the game boxes bigger than the PSP itself?
Skoo: To make you feel like a man.
Skoo: A man who paid for a tennis game.
Weebl: Games cases should never fit in a purse, they are not tampons.
Skoo: Unless they are some sort of virtua tampon game.
Weebl: If that was by Sega I bet it would still rock.
Splush: It could be one of the less romantic episodes in the Project Rub series.
Peabo: Who can make the biggest ball of used tampons within the time-limit?
Skoo: Ok, lets give this game our scores. First off: let's rate the sound out of 10.
Weebl: I'd give it a 7, as I couldn't tell if the ball was going left or right merely by a soft swooshing noise.
Splush: 10 if you're a Korean who loves hard rockin' and manly American voiceovers, 3 if you are not.
Peabo: When not in use, it emulates silence perfectly, I'd give it a 10.
Skoo: I give this game a 5 for sound, because I don't have a PSP, but the voices in my head sound good.
Skoo: Now, graphics.
Weebl: 0 for me. Actually, I'll give it a 1 since there was a flickering red line at one point which is more than happened with Wipeout.
Splush: 7: the Dreamcast version is pretty spiffy looking for its time, even though the players sometimes resemble some kind of sporting ogre when they put their hands in the air (like they just don't care). Also, the "replay" graphic looks like the Weetabix logo.
Peabo: No matter how I combine the CD and the PSP, I can't see any graphics, so 0.
Splush: Hey, also, there's a tiny rendition of the on-court action on the screen of your visual memory unit, for no clear reason.
Weebl: That is nice.
Splush: Maybe just looking at that would be an accurate simulation of the PSP experience.
Skoo: I am basing this purely on the box now, on which I am given a few screenshots. This game looks good, and the manual even comes with a few black & white pictures, too. I like the look of the mini game and when my PSP arrives, this will be the first game I play. Quite possibly because I only own one game, but regardless, I rate the graphics 8/10
Weebl: Are you rating the experience of looking at things highly?
Skoo: All I have is the box, so my scores are going to be tilted in favour of the visual.
Splush - Eats memory units.
Skoo: Now, Gameplay.
Weebl: I'm going to go out on a limb here. since it sounded like I actually managed to return the ball once or twice it made me feel like a highly skilled ninja. This is a good thing as reality suggests otherwise, so from an escapist point of view I'll give it 8
Skoo: I rate this game 0/10 for gameplay, because I can't play the game, or *any* game, until Amazon get off their slack behinds and find me a PSP to review with. Can you believe they sent me a game without the console to play it on? Why I oughta...
Peabo: There are several games you can play with a CD, and all of them are relatively boring. However, it makes cool lightning when put in the microwave, so it gets a 7.
Splush: 10 for gameplay: it's fun enough to make me care about tennis, and you can keep up good rallies without even watching the screen which is important for my hectic modern lifestyle.
Weebl: Showoff. You've made me feel even lamer.
Splush: Yeah. A big part of my life involves keeping an eye on my huge wall of security monitors so that nobody sneaks into my mansion, so "games I can play without watching the screen" is my favourite genre. Maybe second favourite next to "shopping simulators made for teenage girls".
Weebl: I'll trade you my psp for something of value then, as all games on it fit the category you mention.
Splush: I'll swap it for my DS, because it has TWO screens to keep an eye on which is frankly way too demanding.
Weebl: I already own one.
Skoo: I own none. We have four screens between the four of us, lets sort something out.
Weebl: You have a supreme lack of portables it would seem.
Peabo: I had mine first, I win.
Splush: Skoo has a GBA and it's still better than the PSP or DS.
Skoo: Oh, true, I have a GBA SP fliptop jobbie.
Splush: Maybe you can play some Mario Tennis game for it. Maybe, just maybe, it will feature Waluigi.
Peabo: Tennis sounds like Dennis.
Splush: Dennis sounds like dentist.
Weebl: Dentist sounds like "I'm pissed".
Splush: "I'm pissed" sounds like a cry for help.
Weebl: My name's Weebl and I'm an alcoholic.
Splush: Does it numb the pain of dropping your PSP?
Weebl: A little.
Splush: Did it cause you to drop your PSP?
Weebl: A little.
Peabo: So what we clearly have here is a game which is subliminally advocating the heavy use of alcoholic drinks.
Splush: And maybe Weetabix.
Peabo: Never mix the two, it goes soggy even faster than normal.
Splush: how about Weetabix soaked in Baileys in favour of milk?
Weebl: Vodka weetabix is living the dream, most important meal of the day I'll have you know.
Skoo: Are we done here? I'm onto level 2 of "staring at my virtua tennis box".
Henman - Wet.
Total: 65/120, 54%
Verdict: You need this game in your life. Be prepared to sell your PSP to be able to afford this game, if necessary.
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