Two-time French Open champ Rafael (or "Rafa," as his fans call him) Nadal currently holds the distinction of being ranked number two for more consecutive weeks than anyone in ATP history. Unfortunately for Nadal, much of his career has been played in the shadow of one of the most dominant players ever, Roger Federer. There is one thing that Rafa has that Federer doesn't, and that's a video game that bears his name and likeness. But this isn't something he's going to want to brag about when hanging out with the likes of Maria Sharapova. Thanks to poor controls, a paltry list of game modes, and a lack of real-life players not named Rafael Nadal, Rafa Nadal Tennis double-faults in its Nintendo DS debut.
Whatever the tutorial tells you is wrong. The touch-screen controls don't work well at all.
What separates Rafa Nadal Tennis from other tennis games is that it's nearly impossible to play thanks to the default control scheme. This "innovative" scheme has you use the stylus to move your player and hit the ball. To serve, you hold the stylus on the screen as a power meter fills, and then you push the stylus toward where you want the serve to land. To move your player around the court, you touch the area where you want to go; to hit the ball, you make a quick slash toward where you want the ball go. This half-baked control scheme would hardly be ideal if it worked in the first place, but it's even worse because it doesn't really work at all. It's a crapshoot trying to figure out where the ball will land on a serve, but unlike the rest of the controls, serving at least somewhat works. It's incredibly difficult to get your player in position to hit the ball by the time it gets there, and it's even more difficult to actually hit the ball. Sometimes you won't swing; sometimes you'll swing late or early. Once in awhile, you will actually hit the ball. If you're truly blessed, you may even hit it where you're aiming! You can thankfully play with a more traditional control scheme that uses the D pad and buttons if you go to the game's options menu.
Once you've got controls that somewhat work at your disposal, you can play an exhibition match, start a career, or play multiplayer with up to three other people. Even though it supports game sharing, multiplayer is a bust thanks to laggy controls and choppy play. There are no minigames, so you'll want to start a career if you're looking to do anything other than play a single match. You start by creating a male or female tennis player in the poorly translated create-a-player menu. There aren't a whole lot of options available, but you can choose from a handful of different heads, shirts, and pants. Anyone who has played Virtua Tennis will notice more than a few similarities to Sega's popular tennis series when it comes to how the career mode is laid out. You select tournaments from a world map and unlock new tournaments as you win. You can spend your winnings on new rackets and clothes, and the credits you earn for winning matches can be used to improve your player's attributes. There's even lousy guitar rock playing in the background.