Grand Slam Tennis Preview: Tennis With a TwistS

The Wii ships with a free tennis game bundled in with a clutch of other sports titles, so how can you convince Nintendo gamers they should spend more money on a stand alone tennis title?

What Is It?
Based on the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the Wii version of the game will give players total control of their racket thanks to MotionPlus and blend pick-up-and-play with deep control and tactics.

What We Saw
I played several matches with and without Wii Motion Plus.

How Far Along Is It?
The game is finished, but the Motion Plus device was a prototype, I was told.

What Needs Improvement?
MotionPlus: Snapping the MotionPlus add-on to the remote certainly made Grand Slam Tennis harder, but maybe not for the right reasons. Instead of auto-selecting whether you were using a backhand or forehand, the game knew which you were going to use, and that worked great. But the game is also suppose to use the more refine motion detection to determine where your shot is headed and that seemed off. The developer I spoke to implied that such issues could be fixed when the retail version of MotionPlus hits. I guess we'll have to wait to see.

Serves: The serve didn't always work like it was supposed to, MotionPlus or no MotionPlus. On a few occasions the game didn't notice my throwing the ball into the air, or thought I had when I hadn't yet made the motion.

What Should Stay The Same?
Rally and Returns: Once the ball is on the court, Grand Slam Tennis quickly becomes a tight, strategy-packed and, mostly importantly, fun game of virtual tennis. Players can use the A and B buttons to deliver lobs or drops, and can manually move around the court with the D-pad or thumbstick to crowd the net or back-up for a hard return.

Graphics: It's hard to tell, with the likes of McEnroe and Sampras, whether the game sports big-headed characters or not, but either way their cartoonish noggens are a perfect fit for the game.

Sound: The remote will, I'm told, eventually make little sounds at key moments including McEnroe's famous "You cannot be serious" recorded by the man himself specifically for the game.

Final Thoughts
Grand Slam Tennis does all of the right things to push the already popular of virtual Wii tennis into the realm of lasting fun. The addition of different types of hits, ability to twist the racket and move yourself around, all add to the game's nuance, giving it a much needed level of sports strategy.

I actually got so into the game at the EAE3 event that I missed two appointments. But that could just be my competitive nature.